Friday, July 30, 2010

Still At It

I wanted to try out some changes to the way I worked the decrease section at the top of the Burning Love hat; so I knit another, though this time in a baby size.

The changes were subtle, but they are an improvement.

I figured that it was worth writing down; and that since I had a very big size and a very small size, I should try to work out a few more in between. It's a slow process, this "writing down" business. I'm making progress, but I'm not quite there yet.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Uncharted Territory

Once I reached the point where I needed to start decreasing for the top of my hat, I was on my own. Well, the book does have some charts for calf gussets on socks that I might have tried to employ (and it might have been wise to do so); but I just launched out and charted my own. I am not 100% satisfied with the results. There are a few spots I'd like to tweak. But I'm probably 95% satisfied.

There is a little bit of biasing going on. I may block it to see if that makes any difference. I got lots of practice crossing stitches, to the point where the maneuver is almost smooth and I feel as if I might be ready to take on a project that includes more than one basic pattern. It fits well enough, though 1/2 inch shorter would have been OK, too. The fabric is very elastic. Unstretched, the circumference around the bottom is about 19". I can pull it out to at least 24", though the texture starts to flatten out a bit when it's pulled that firmly.

The yarn is Cascade 220. The color (which looks truer in the top photo) is #9474. I used #5 needles, but I'm a loose knitter.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Hunka, Hunka

The name of that little twisted stitch motif I was practicing is "Burning Love", so how could I resist it? (I'm not a big Elvis fan, but Mr S. most definitely is.) Besides, it's fairly simple as these things go, and I think it's very pretty. So I've started a hat.

I re-charted it in symbols I'm more familiar with, which really helped. It's still slow going, but I'm starting to get the swing of it.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Recent Acquisition

A new book that I love: Twisted-Stitch Knitting: Traditional Patterns & Garments from the Styrian Enns Valley by Marie Erlbacher, published by Schoolhouse Press.

The book contains a small bit of history, instruction for the technique, 174 pattern stitches with photos and charts, and a number of sweater and sock patterns. It's the "stitch dictionary" aspect that appeals to me most. These are the type of small cable patterns often referred to as "Bavarian", worked with travelling/crossed stitches that are twisted by knitting into the back to give them a more raised or chiseled appearance. The book is a great resource.

You may wonder about the gloppy bits at the lower end and in the middle of my swatch. Well, I hate to admit it, but I did lose my place (more than once) on an 8 st, 4 row pattern repeat. The charts in the book are really fairly simple and straightforward, but employ a different system than I am used to reading; and the eye/brain/finger connections went askew a couple of times. It didn't help that I started late in the evening. Note to self: use Post-It tape to mark rows worked, even for short pattern repeats.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Ooooooh-Kay, so what is it?

aside from an unlikely looking, not going to win any knitting prizes object, that is?

Well, it's a swatch from camp.

Down in the bottom part are some practice short rows. The important part about them for me is that they were worked by "knitting back backward". I, personally, do not have a figure that calls for bust darts, but if I did, this would be the way to go. And on my next heel I'm going to give this try, if only to reinforce the motions in my hands and head.

Just above that is a bit of practice with Norwegian Purl. I'm not sure I'll be switching over my purling style, but it's kind of nice to have done it, just to try something different.

At the top is about two hours worth of plugging away at double knitting with one yarn held in each hand. Not perfect, but definitely getting better. So maybe I should go ahead and make, oh, a potholder or something. Actually, I think it would be lovely to have a pair of double knit mittens, because they would be so warm. (Add to growing mental list of things to do.)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

About Those Mitts

The set made with my birthday yarn is done. I am now officially coordinated, Yay!

The headband pattern is a freebie available here, but I haven't written up a proper pattern for the mitts.

So here is a really sketchy, and yet verbose, description of what I did:

First off, the ball band did not describe the yarn weight or give a suggested gauge. (on Ravelry it is described as Sport, and I would agree). The band did say to use Size 6 needles, so I automatically dropped to Size 4, which gave me a gauge of 6 sts per inch in stockinette. I used double points, but Magic Loop or 2 circs would do as well. How much yarn? Well I got both the mitts and headband out of a 250 yd skein with a fair bit left over

Cast on 32 sts and join to work in the round.

Work 20 rounds in k2, p2 rib.

At this point, stop and slip the little tube onto the top of your hand to make sure it fits closely yet stretches enough around the knuckles to be comfortable. If it is too tight for comfort, change to larger needles and keep going. If (not likely) it is too loose, start the whole thing over on smaller needles; because if it is too loose around the widest part of your hand it will be way to loose around your wrist.

Pick a knit rib to be the one that will grow into the thumb gusset. I picked one that was toward the center of one of my needles. Work up to that rib, place a marker, k1, M1, k1, place a second marker, finish the round.

Work the thumb gusset:
Rnds 1 & 2: work even in pattern (meaning knit the knit stitches including all stitches between the markers, and purl the purl stitches)
Rnd 3: work in pattern to the first marker and slip it. K1, M1, knit to one stitch before the second marker, M1, k1, slip the marker and complete round in pattern.

Repeat Rnds 1-3 until there are 17 sts between the markers.

Work 5 more rounds even in pattern (or to the length you want to the thumb opening).

Next round: work in pattern to the first marker, remove marker, k1, put the next 15 sts on waste yarn, k1, remove marker, finish round in pattern.

Work 8 more rounds in pattern (or as many as you like) and bind off in rib.

Put the 15 reserved stitches onto 3 dpns, join yarn and knit 4 rounds. Bind off.

Curse hole that appears where thumb meets body, and darn closed with yarn tail. Weave in other loose ends.

Rinse and repeat/make a second mitt just like the first.

A note on increases: you can M1 any way you like. I like a raised/lifted invisible increase of the kind Cat Bordhi calls LLinc and LRinc. If you aren't familar with these, she has a very good video here. Oddly, the title frames call it a lesson on paired decreases, but it really is on increases. Trust me.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Another Fun Thing About Camp

I sat next to the "Summit" shawl. (You can click the picture to make it big, because I know you will want to see how close I was.)

The stitch pattern is brilliant which you can already tell from the photos. In person you can see how wonderfully it drapes and flows. So if you make it, take Mandie's advice and use silk or something with similar characteristics.

Mandie and her friend Janet were also a hoot, and would have been fun even without the shawl.

Where To Begin

I'm back from Knitting Camp, tired but happy. It was a very rich experience, and I'm still sort of processing it all, but here's the start of a report/set of reflections.

The drive up was perfectly lovely (and that's saying a lot, coming from anxious driver me). In choosing a route my two priorities were "stay off the interstate" and "avoid The Dells at all costs." This put me on secondary state highways lined with Chicory, Monarda and Queen Ann's Lace, Rudbeckia and Daisy Fleabane at the height of green and flourishing summer.

I arrived late afternoon, feeling shy, and slightly worried about what my roommate might be like. Passed some knitters in the lobby and went up to a still empty room and hung out there for a while, then gathered my courage and went down to join the knitters. The group had grown a little, and of course they were all very nice. When we went in for dinner, I spotted Heather and Katie from the Sow's Ear and headed for their reassuringly familiar faces. It turned out that Steph, my roommate was in that group, and she's an absolute peach: friendly, enthusiastic, easy to talk to - couldn't have asked for a better companion.

After dinner we went over to the classroom and, oh my, it was lined with tables

covered with knitted originals by Elizabeth Zimmerman (and Meg Swansen and Joyce Williams). It was rather stunning.

I was most touched by these.

Note to AnniePazoo: that's the pattern I used for Katie's little blue baby sweater.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

More Experimenting

While browsing through my one and only (so far) Japanese stitch dictionary, I found a little all-over pattern that I thought might work with self striping yarn. As it turns out, not so much. The yarn pattern overpowers the texture of the stitch.

So after a couple of repeats, I eliminated the purls, which is better for this yarn, and I will probably transition to a 9 x 1 or 4 x 1 rib before I get to the heel.

I'll still like the socks a lot, because I love the colors. And I'll try the little pattern again with a solid or kettle dye.

Be back next week.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Mr S Travels Light

He managed a whole month in Europe with only a large Rick Steves backpack. So the gifts and souvenirs he brings home are small. Though in this case, small and extravagant are not mutually exclusive.

Straight from Paris. I'm still rather blown away, and very touched.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Back to the Real World

So, I took Kmkat's good advice and picked up some real (as opposed to virtual) knitting, very soothing after the reclassification frenzy. I managed to finish off the second skinny looking mitt and make a start on the headband.

I also managed to knock off a couple of loads of laundry, and get myself slightly more organized/partially packed for Knitting Camp. Ohmygosh, it's only three days away! I dithered about what to bring for "Show and Tell". The handout says only one thing... I ended up stuffing a few in the bag and will make up my mind when I get there. It did say bring things you can wear as an extra way to share/show off (though how much wool can you wear in Wisconsin in July, even if it is air conditioned?).

Another, happy, real world event takes place this evening. In a few hours I'll be heading to Madison to pick up Mr S. He left Heathrow somewhere around 3 a.m. our time. It's been almost a month. It will be mighty nice to have him home.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Somebody, take away my Internet, please, for my own good.

I've been dragged into the Ravelry pattern reclassification vortex. If you aren't tuned in to Ravelry, they have asked users to help classify and assign attributes to their database of knitting and crochet patterns (over 100,000).

It started innocently enough, when I did my own designs. Then I kept going.... It's like crack. My weekend is gone. I have other things I should be doing....

On the other hand, I've only reviewed 277. Some folks have done over 1000.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

In and Out

Just sitting there, this looks ridiculously narrow.

But 2 x 2 ribbing is amazing stuff. Fits like, well, like a glove.

I wanted to use the special birthday yarn from my daughter for something I would wear often, and in the winter I wear handwarmers and headbands on almost a daily basis. I'm pretty sure that after I finish the second mitt I will have enough yarn left for a headband. And the colors should go well with my winter coat. I may even look coordinated for a change.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

I Finished the Toe-Up Socks

with an eyelet ribbing. Even plain Jane, essentially functional socks can use a little decorative touch.

Now I'm faced with some organizational challenges.

I need to pack for Knitting Camp. I'll be leaving a week from tomorrow. Unfortunately, I tend to be a terrible over-packer who still manages to forget something essential. So I've started some lists. But my impulse is still to throw in every knitting needle I own and half the yarn. I'm going to need to narrow things down.

My other, bigger challenge is preparing for the window installation project. It's scheduled for the 27th. We're supposed to move everything three feet away from the windows being replaced. Ha! this is a small house. In the upstairs rooms, no window is more than 4 feet away from a wall (in some cases much closer), and the limited wall space, as well as the space in front of the windows is occupied by furniture and stacks of stuff. It's the stacks of stuff that are probably the major problem (especially in my workroom). So I'm trying to get a head start on clearing some of that out. Sisyphus had it easy.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Full Disclosure

The following is an advertisement. But if you would like to see all of the designs in Knit Prayer Shawls, here's a slide show

Monday, July 05, 2010

Sometimes a Sock is a Little Work of Art

Sometimes it's just something to cover your foot.

I'm working on a pair of the latter sort right now. Between gaping holes and dryer disappearances, I'm down to two pairs of summer anklets.

I decided to get wild (for me) and work toe up, and to get even wilder and work a short row heel. I usually don't use these for a couple of reasons. 1) They don't fit my high instep foot as well as a heel with gusset increases. And 2) while I can work wrap and turn short rows, I don't enjoy dealing with lifting those wraps, especially the double wraps of a heel.

So in the spirit of "what the heck, why not try it?" I addressed #1 by increasing eight stitches a couple of rounds before beginning the heel turns; and then decreasing them away a couple of rounds after finishing the heel. I dealt with #2 by using the no wrap method from the Lifestyle Toe Up Socks. I like it. This is a great pattern, with links to video help. I goofed up in a couple spots (and thus have a couple of holes), but with practice I think this could become a favorite. There's a good photo tutorial for almost exactly the same thing here.

I think this approach could change my entire attitude toward short rows.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

A Little Help From My Friend

Since I so spectacularly forgot about Last Saturday Knitting (or really more precisely forgot which weekend of the month we had actually reached), I couldn't exactly be counted on to show up for Late Night Knitting last night at the Sow's Ear. So Molly Bee (yes, the widely recognized Molly Bee) very thoughtfully emailed me a heads up in advance. Thanks, Ms Bee!

It was a lovely summer evening. The place was packed, and we ended up out on the front lawn, which (after a small argument with the sun umbrella, which Dale-Harriet resourcefully resolved with yarn and a couple of half hitches) turned out to be the perfect place to be.

I got to see Ms Bee's holey Kauni scarf, and Jen's awesome handspun that is becoming a shawl (she spins amazingly finely and evenly), and Dale's red thing that I assume was a toque, and Mary's start for a sweater. I brought along the wonky cable socks.

I could deal with them during conversational knitting because I've finished off the cabled part and am now on the straight stockinette shot to the toe.

I left a little on the early side, to drive while it was still light, and because I had to get up for work this morning. As I got up to go, Jen handed me jar of her Strawberry freezer jam. My favorite. On the way home, the evening air was soft, and the rolling green hills lovely. Couldn't have asked for a better Friday night.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Sneak Peek

A package arrived on my doorstep late Tuesday afternoon, and it contained three copies of this:

A lovely little book, just 5 x 8 1/2, hardbound with a nice lay-flat spiral binding, with 15 patterns from 11 designers, for wraps and shawls in a variety of shapes and techniques. And... (jumps up and down, waving hand in the air), "Look, look! Look at the red one! That's my design!"

My online friend Joan (aka SSK) contributed a lovely mobius wrap.

Here's a little taste of just some of the others.

Fifteen patterns for under $10, pretty good deal. Here's the detailed info: Knit prayer shawls: 15 Wraps to Share, published by Leisure Arts. Now available for pre-order at

You know, just in case you need a gift for someone (or even yourself).