Monday, July 31, 2006

the state of the stole; comments; blah

1. Hiawatha!

Hiawatha - July 31

As you can see, I finished the second Starlight section, and have started on the side section. I'm one pattern repeat in, and enjoying it now that the patterning is more established. It's a bit complicated to get the feel of this section, because it's really 3 different lace patterns in a total of 5 sections, with faggoting between them. To make things even more fun, the wrong side rows aren't just purl for every pattern. To help myself stay sane and keep track of all that's going on, I did this:

how I've been managing the Hiawatha side section

There are too many charts to fit on one 8.5x11 sheet of paper, and I didn't want to work off of the original, so I scanned, printed, cut, and taped. I need to use stickies to help keep track of rows because I don't know where my other magnets are. And you can see all the notes below, including notes that come with the pattern (for special WS row instructions), and my own notes to help me keep track of what to do on WS rows and how to knit the patterns in the proper order. Now that I'm a repeat in, I don't really need all those notes anymore. But they were extremely useful to have all in one spot as I was starting out on this section.

For the record, I'm not doing the k1, purl across, k1 on the WS rows of the Arrowheads pattern. I'm just purling across because 1. I think it looks nicer, and 2. I'm not convinced that they really mean it when they say k, p across, k. To me, that reads like vestigial instructions from when the pattern lived alone, as a single lace panel, not for when it's incorporated into a larger structure. I don't really know whether it's a pattern mistake or not, but I like it better without the stitch of garter stitch at the beginning and end of that pattern, so I'm doing it my way.

I have about 9 more repeats of the side section charts to go. The pattern says to do 10 repeats, and I think I'll probably stick with that, because using much smaller needles will do enough to keep the stole from being ridiculously long.

2. Stuff from comments:
  • Molly asked if I'd be knitting the cover sweater (Autumn Color Cardigan) from Sweaters From Camp. That's actually the sweater that got me to buy the book, and is definitely on my list. Probably sometime next year, when I've finished current projects, knit up yarn I have sitting around (I don't like to have a big stash), and have the money to order the yarn. As a side note about that sweater, I realized a couple of months ago that the patterning is very similar to the patterning of the Komi mittens in Schurch's Knitting Marvelous Mittens. It's no wonder I was so drawn to that sweater, now that I know that I love that type of colorwork patterning. This also means that the colorwork in the sweater will be quite easy, without long floats. The shaping, on the other hand, will be a fun challenge.

  • Alice suggested I submit the photo of the Hedera sock with cherries to the Knitty calendar contest. I've been thinking of doing that, but am still unsure about whether the photo I have is high res enough. (The info given is contradictory - one can't get an 8.5x11 photo with the DPI requested with a 3 megapixel camera, as suggested. So I need to find out exactly what Amy needs for a final photo, because I only have a 3.1 megapixel camera, and don't want to submit something she wouldn't be able to use if my photo were selected.)

  • Lotta wants to know more about my experiences submitting knitting to the fair. I'll have more on that after the fair is over, in a week, and will be happy to post here and send you an email. I dropped off Ingeborg and the Nordic Mittens yesterday. It was a bit difficult to hand them over to a stranger. I got little claim tickets in return, and have an hour window to pick them up again next Monday, or else I'm not sure what happens to them. eek! Let's just hope that they stay far away from dirty, grubby fingers, and that there isn't a massive disaster in the building that causes all the jars of preserves and shelves of homemade pies to smear themselves all over my woolen goodies. (Yes, I know they'll be fine. But I still worry.) I'm a bit disappointed with my county fair because of the very limited number of categories for knitting. They have two separate categories for afghans (regular sized and baby), but only one category for every type of sweater (not subdivided for, say, colorwork and textured patterns), no categories for socks, no categories for bags, slippers, pillows, or other accessories that aren't winter outerwear. And you're only allowed to submit one item per category, which means I had some big decisions to make. I say they should expand the categories, and just get rid of the cash prizes. It's only $4 for first place, which means I'll cover the cost of admission if I win first place for both items. Whoopee? The money seems a bit superfluous. I think ribbons would be sufficient prizes, and would allow more categories if they're limited themselves for financial reasons.

  • Thanks for all of the wonderful comments over the past few weeks that weren't specific questions covered above. Blogger comments aren't really set up for replies, but I appreciate all of the comments I receive, even if I can't send direct replies.

3. Ack. My sidebar is still decimated. I knew there was something I was supposed to do, but didn't do, this weekend. Yeah, the stuff that was magically deleted should be back (non-magically, with lots of tedious work) today or tomorrow.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Pine Trees and Smoke

Two more Hiawatha sections done:

The Pine Trees
Hiawatha - The Pine Trees
(well, upside down pine trees, I guess)

The Smoke of the Peace-pipe
Song of Hiawatha - The Smoke of the Peace-pipe

So far, the Pine Trees pattern is my least favorite. It was a pain to knit, because it was so vastly easy to make an error, which I did many, many times. And while I like how it looks all blocked out, it's just not my favorite, visually. I think it looks nicer from a longer distance, like in the photo that comes with the pattern.

I ended up liking the Smoke pattern more than I anticipated. It's kind of chaotic looking, and different than lace I've knit before. It's not charted out because it just doesn't work well in chart form. It's got some plain rows, and areas where it's patterned (decreases and yarnovers) on both the right and the wrong side. The pattern repeat is 9 rows long. If you take a moment to think about that, that's a little weird. It means that, if you do more than one repeat in a row, you'll get some reverse stockinette. In fact, you start the reverse stockinette before the end of the repeat, on row 7 of 9. (The pattern tells you to repeat row 6 on row 7, then do rows 5 and 6 again.) I was very unsure of whether the pattern was correct, and if so, whether I liked it, as I was knitting it. But I plugged away, since I'm certainly no lace expert, and since I had a lifeline in place before the craziness started, in case I had to rip out the whole deal. In the end, I'm quite pleased with the look of this section. It's a bit chaotic, but so is smoke. And there's a delicate balance and symmetry to it, too.

Next up is the starlight pattern, again, and then the side sections. We have some houseguests this week, so progress may be slow. And I'm tempted to finally finish up my second Hedera sock, because I got some goodies in the mail this week:

free yarn!

In the center is the skein of Schaeffer Anne I got with my Red Bird Knits gift certificate, from the Amazing Lace contest. Rebecca also sent me some yarn goodies. There's a skein of soy silk, which will probably be used for a fun little weekend project sometime soonish. And she also sent me a little ball of Beaverslide yarn to swatch with. How fun! Free yarn delivered to one's doorstep is a good way to at least temporarily lift the spirits. :-)

Oh, and also getting in the way of lace and fair isle knitting may be putting together my entry for the next Amazing Lace Challenge. I won't say too much right now, but I have a very fun idea for it. It will be a bit more labor intensive than I ever imagined I'd make a knitalong contest entry, but if I go through with it, it will also be a lot of fun.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Feathers

Song of Hiawatha - The Feathers

I really enjoyed knitting this panel of Hiawatha. Even though the pattern repeat is a lot longer across than The Starlight, it was easy to get into the rhythm of it. What made it particularly easy were the purl stitches at the beginning of each repeat, which did what stitch markers would ordinarily do, without the fuss of actually having to use stitch markers. I didn't use any lifelines in this repeat because it was so easy to see where I was in the pattern.

So far, I'm very pleased with this stole. I didn't really know what the center panel (The Starlight) would look like, because it's hard to see in the pattern photo. I also didn't think I was too wild about the Feathers pattern, based on the pattern photo. But in person, both lace patterns are rather stunning. I'm also loving the next panel (The Pine Trees), but more about that when I complete the section.

I don't remember if I've mentioned this before, but I have a list of podcast links in the sidebar. Some of them are fiber arts related, and some are just other podcasts (or radio shows available in podcast form) that I really enjoy. I recently added a couple to the list, and will probably be adding some more soon. I'm sure that most of you don't need my list of knitting podcasts to know what is what, but I thought that the non-knitting podcasts listed might be new to a lot of people. I've recently done some technical mumbo-jumbo to make it possible to again download things onto my ipod, so I've been on a real podcast kick, lately. I was stuck with a very limited music selection and no podcasts on my ipod for a couple of months (and limited my podcast listening to things I had the patience to listen to in front of a computer), and it's a real treat to have aural entertainment fueling my knitting again. Perhaps that (and the weather) explains my great knitting productivity this and last weekend.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Only one color!

Song of Hiawatha Stole - The Starlight

Yesterday I cast on for the Song of Hiawatha stole (pattern by Hazel Carter). This is my main Amazing Lace project, and will be a birthday gift for an old childhood friend. I was getting a bit nervous about timing, since gifts like this have a deadline. I was also just really itching to jump into those awesome lace charts.

I think I needn't be worried about time, though I'm afraid to say that too loudly. While the stole is huge, I may not make it quite as big as the pattern says. And inch for inch, it's a whole lot faster going than the fair isle sweater. I didn't knit all of the above last night, but I could have if I'd wanted to.

The photo is of the completed middle of the stole, called "The Starlight". It was pretty easy going, as the horizontal repeat length is pretty short. The next section ("The Feathers") has a much longer horizontal repeat. The Starlight got repeated 18 times across, and The Feathers is only repeated 5 times across. So it may take a bit more concentration to prevent mistakes. I didn't make any errors in The Starlight (or at least none that I can see, and none that affected stitch count), which I attribute to the short repeat length and the fact that I actually used a lifeline. I will continue using a lifeline, so Murphy's Law doesn't come to bite me in the bum.

I haven't abandoned the sweater sleeve. I just needed a change of pace. The sleeve has actually grown a good bit since the last time I posted a photo, but still needs somewhere between 5 and 10 hours of solid knitting (not counting bathroom and email breaks) before I reach the beginning of the cuff. Since I've determined that there is no way that I'll ever finish the sweater before the Cheshire County Fair (which is in a week or two), and thus will definitely be entering Ingeborg instead of this sweater, I feel absolutely no rush to finish this sweater this summer. Maybe I'll enter it in the fair next year, if I don't have something I'm more in love with by then to share with the world county.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Half a sleeve (if you squint your eyes, sneeze, and think in the abstract)

It's hot out.

The only logical thing to do when it's hot out is to spend the entire day knitting a wool sweater. (Yes, it is too logical! I camped out yesterday in the air conditioned room with my wool and an ipod full of podcasts. The perfect too-hot-to-do-anything-else day activity.)

Look at how much sleeve I knit:

VS sleeve 1

A little over one pattern repeat. About 3". All day. Three inches. Well, I guess that's special. (If anybody dares ask why I don't post more often when working on fair isle sweaters, I'll just point them here.)

The good news is that, according to some quick and dirty math I did last night, I'm about halfway done with the knitting on the sleeve, not counting the cuff. The sleeve isn't yet halfway down to the beginning of the cuff, though, because it keeps getting smaller in circumference. In other words, I think I've knit about half the sleeve (sans cuff), if you count in stitches, not inches. I just might have enough yarn to knit both sleeves, not counting cuffs. Maybe. That's my goal right now, because if I'm going to have a different dye lot for a part of the sweater, it makes sense to restrict it to the cuffs and collar.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

and it will only get smaller

VS sweater sleeve 1

Yeah, I know that doesn't look like a whole lot of progress on the sleeve. But I'm currently decreasing 2 stitches every third round (and will continue to do so unless I find my math was off when I double check it), which is already making a noticeable difference. I'm a bit concerned about the sleeve being too wide, even though I went with what I thought was a reasonable sleeve depth (about 9"). But I'm not changing anything, because it's way too late for that, with those steeks cut and all. If the fit is funny, the fit is funny. It's definitely too early to tell, though.

Here's a closeup of the sleeve decreases:

VS sweater sleeve 1 - decreases closeup

Because my gauge is so much tighter than in the pattern, I ended up picking up a lot more stitches for the sleeves than they did. This meant that I was left with more than a horizontal pattern repeat worth of stitches, and had to decide what to do about that. I could have added in a partial snowflake on either side of the stripes on the bottom, but decided it would look nicer to just add in a few more stripes, which as you can see are more than halfway decreased away, already. Looking at the wider view, you'll see how those underarm stitches I once placed on stitch holders are incorporated into the underside of the sleeve. I think it's a really neat visual effect because of the stripes. Decreases are done on either side of that section, and I have the beginning of each round start at the beginning of that section. That makes things a tad bit fiddly, since I do color changes (where necessary) at the beginnings of rounds, but have the needles set up so they switch at the direct underarm, which is slightly past the beginning of the round. But it's worked fine so far.

On a barely-knitting-related note, check this out:

a knitting scrabbler's lament

Can you spot where I'd have been able to play the word "yarnover" to get a triple word score, if only the word yarnover were in the Scrabble dictionary? Oh the pain! 42 points (and you can see I needed them), and a very cool word, but I couldn't play it because it's not in the dictionary we're using. *sob*

Sunday, July 09, 2006

a sleeve fit for an ant

Thanks to Jessica's generous offer to lend me a second size 1 Addi Turbo to try out the 2-circ method on my sleeves, the first Vertical Stripes sleeve has officially begun. So far, I'm actually rather pleased with this technique. It's not as nice as being about to knit in the round on one circular needle, but for something with this relatively large circumference, I get a lot of knitting in between when I have to switch needles. And it's really nice to be able to knit on the same needles I used for the body, which really does eliminate any of my gauge worries. I have to admit that I like this technique so much more for fair isle than I thought I would that I may consider it when I make colorwork mittens later this year. Of course, I'm only 3 rows into the colorwork, so I may be speaking too soon.

VS sleeve 1 - July 9

I have run into a strange problem with this sweater. I'm not sure if it's a mistake I made when crocheting or cutting the steeks, or if it's a problem with the crocheted steek technique in general. I have a feeling that it's my fault. Take a look:

VS armhole - crochet problem?

Notice how that purple crochet chain has separated from the steek stitches it was crocheted into? That's not supposed to happen. I'm hoping that I was just inaccurate with my crocheting or cutting in that spot, and that this is not something that can happen with correctly executed crocheted steeks. I tried tugging (gently, but not too gently) on the crocheting in another spot, and it didn't seem to want to budge, so my best guess is that this is my own fault. I guess I'll quickly sew that chain onto the steek stitches and get on with things. While I'm not knitting with Shetland, this is still 100% non-superwash wool, and stitches have already been picked up for the sleeves. So I'm not really concerned with unravelling problems.

On another note, I wanted to say thanks for all of the wonderful comments about Bristow. Truth be told, I stuck to the pattern almost word for word. While I'm extremely pleased with the results, it's not a knitting miracle or anything. Just a pretty pattern, knit in the right size. So if you like it that much, go knit one for yourself, so I can return the compliments! :-D

Also, thanks so much to the people who responded with input on the scratchiness (or non-scratchiness, as it appears to be) of Schaeffer Anne. I went ahead and used my Red Bird Knits gift certificate for a huge hank of it in red, which I'm very excited about. And let me tell you, the customer service is great. (All my questions were answered within minutes of me sending an email.) I'm officially a fan.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Amazing Lace Challenge 4 (includes actual knitting update!)

the challenge: If you bound off your lace RIGHT NOW - what could it be used for?

I happen to have just finished the first Hedera sock. What non-sock use could I find for it?

sock cherry pie

cherry tree + lone sock = woolly cherry holder!

And it's a good thing I triple checked the sock after I thought I got all the cherries out of it. There was one hiding down in the toe. That would have been quite the surprise, come wool sock weather in a couple of months...

I am happy. The sock is happy. The cherries have had their insides ripped out and are simmering on the stove. We will eat them tonight, in pie form. Yum!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Bristow finito

Pattern: Bristow (size small), by Melanie Gibbons
Yarn: Merino et Soie (worsted weight 80/20 merino/silk), recycled from gorilla arms sweater
Modifications: If I made any major ones, they're slipping my mind. There were a few obvious errors in the pattern, but it's a well designed sweater that fits my body shape very nicely. Mods weren't necessary.

Bristow done
I was a bit nervous about setting it down on the grass, but it escaped with only a little ant and a piece of dry grass clinging to it. The button band is less wonky than it looks here. The grass isn't exactly an even surface, so distortions happened.

Bristow modeled
It fits! And like a dream, too. You know how I was worried about the sleeves being too long? They're perfect. I don't think they grew at all in the wash. I was obviously in an altered state when I measured them and came to that conclusion.

Bristow Closeup

All the project photos can be found at this link.