Tuesday, October 31, 2006

mittens of change

(Side note: Thanks for all the comments with concern about my foot. And thanks to those of you who shared your own stories of injury, one of which is definitely grosser than mine. Read the comments on the last post, and you'll see which one. eew! My foot is 100% fine, with no redness or lines or pus. Believe me, I'd have seen a doctor if there was any sign of a problem.)


Komi mitten 1 - October 31it fits!

The first mitten is so close to being done. I just need to finish up the fiddly top, and add a thumb. I'm very happy with the size - big enough to be a proper mitten (mittens should have some wiggle room), but not as huge as the Nordic Mittens I knit last year. I think my row gauge is a bit tight, which is fine, as I have small hands. Last I checked, though, my stitch gauge was spot-on.

By the time I finish the mittens, I may be photographing them on a different background than that familiar living room carpet. We've decided to move, and managed to find a great apartment on our first day of trying, with the first number we called. We're signing a lease this week, and moving mid-month. We're staying in Keene, though, so it won't be a huge change. Just a pretty big one. But if I disappear for a little while, I haven't abandoned the blog. It just means "fun" with transferring DSL to our new address, and/or me not having time for knitting while packing and unpacking boxes.

Of course, this means no more iron donkey, and no more cherries. And most painful of all, no more wood stove. But in addition to all the non-knitting-related benefits of moving, I'll also get a chance to explore new photography options in our new place. (I feel like I've exhausted the current house in terms of that.) And the new apartment seems like it will be nice and bright, which is good both for knitting and taking pictures of knitting. I also look forward to skating on a nearby pond in the winter, wearing lots of hand-knitted garments. One of the great side-effects of this whole blogging thing is that I now have all these photos of our soon-to-be-old house, which I'm sure I wouldn't have had if I hadn't been blogging. Yeah, there are knitted things in the foreground of those photos. But it's nice to have that record of this year and a half of our lives in this house, even if it is full of wool. Too much wool in your photos can't be a bad thing, can it?

Friday, October 27, 2006

really, really, pointy

Komi Mitten 1 - Oct26

I just finished the thumb gusset on the first mitten, and thought I'd share.

There was a sight mishap yesterday. It involved a pointy needle and a foot. I'm still flabbergasted that I haven't found an, um, "exit wound", 'cause it felt like there should have been one. But instinct took over, and I pulled before I even looked to see exactly how far in it went. (It went far. I know that.) Almost no blood, which may creep me out a bit more than if there were a lot. (I mean, what did the needle actually hit?) I'm fine now (though still kinda squicked), walked to and from knitting group with no pain, and fairly sure that I'm up to date on relevant shots, so nothing to really worry about. But still. ICKICKICKICKICK! Rest assured that I will never leave these needles on the floor, again. Also, thank goodness for Shetland. Or faux-Shetland, as it may be. The needle came out of the knitting, too, but the stitches didn't even think of budging. Not that it even occurred to me to look until the initial adrenaline rush had subsided, and I was sure my foot wasn't going to immediately fall off.

Writing about it makes me all jittery and nauseated, but I had to share. Consider it a public service announcement. POINTY!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Things are flying off the needles!

It's amazing how productive one can feel when working on projects that aren't colorwork sweaters at 9 stitches per inch. I'm sure I haven't spent more time than usual knitting, but it certainly feels like I've accomplished a great heap of stuff in the past week or so. First off, I finished the second Komi bag:

Komi bag with cello

It's the same yarn (Patons Classic Merino) and construction as the first, but with my own colorwork pattern. Look for it (and that photo!) in the 2008 Stitch 'n Bitch calendar, which I understand will be available next summer. Also look for it this winter (I hope), along with two or three other original colorwork options and more complete instructions, right here.

I also finished the felted hat:


It's a commissioned work for a friend's husband. I used Wool of the Andes, and made up the pattern. I was thinking of writing up the pattern, but I didn't take good enough notes. It's pretty simple - felt a swatch, do the math, knit a huge hat, top it off with a bit of icord instead of pulling the yarn through the last few stitches. Then add earflaps. (I did a provisional cast on for that, but you could just probably just pick up stitches, if you preferred.) The design is based on illustrations of old medieval (I think?) hats, and I understand it will be used as part of a SCA costume. I blocked it on my styrofoam head, which was beefed up with many layers of plastic grocery bags. (The head the hat needs to fit is 2" larger in circumference than my head and the styrofoam head. If you think putting pins in a styrofoam head is freaky, try smothering it in plastic, first. I felt like I was creating a prop for a CSI episode.)

I can't yet share photos of the third thing I worked on in the past week, because it's a swatch for a pattern I'm submitting for publication. I recently got an email inviting submissions for an upcoming Stitch 'n Bitch book of men's patterns, so I took a couple of days to put something together. I have no idea if it will float their boat, but I really like the design, and if they don't want it for that book, I'll probably submit it elsewhere. And if nobody wants it, I'll happily just knit it up for Alex, and either share the pattern for free or sell it for a small fee. If you're interested in submitting a design for the SnB book, and didn't get the email, drop me a line. I'd be happy to forward it to you. Their deadline is November 3rd, but they're only looking for swatches and sketches, not completed designs.

My fourth item isn't finished, yet:


I'm back to mitten knitting! I finished the cuff a while ago, but have just now gotten back to working on it. As a reminder, the yarn is Harrisville Shetland Style, and the pattern is in Schurch's Marvelous Mittens book. One of the many good things about the mitten construction is that the thumb gusset grows out of the side seam, meaning that the mittens can be worn on either hand. I'll have no worries about knitting two left mittens. I hope I like the way this style of thumb fits, because I like the way it looks, and I like that foolproof non-handedness aspect of the construction.

By the way, those are size 00 (1.75 mm) Inox needles. And they're not bent yet. Whatever they're made of, NASA needs to get their hands on it.

Okay, one more photo. It's the Debbie Bliss Cotton DK that just arrived for a project I'm making for another friend:


Not exactly the most exciting yarn photo ever, but as I'll be tempted to hold off on photos until the bag is in Kathryn's hands (because I want to surprise her with the final design details), I wanted to at least share the beautiful yarn. She was kind enough to throw in some bright red Dale Baby Ull with the order she had shipped to me, so look for some amazing red socks in the future. (Ignoring the number of weeks, or even months, I've been working on the ribbed Lorna's Laces socks...)

Friday, October 20, 2006

Komi bag 2

Having finished both Hiawatha and Vertical stripes in such a short time-frame, after working on both for so long, I felt a little empty. Not a bad kind of empty, but the contemplative kind of empty you feel after finishing a really good book. But I think I'm getting over it, and think that my head is shrinking back down to size. (In other words, thanks for the glowing comments!)

I'm now working on the Komi bag for the SnB calendar. Unlike version one of the bag, this time the colorwork pattern is my very own. Plus, I have a couple of other colorwork patterns that will be knit into samples for the expanded version of the pattern. But more on that another time. Here's a sneak peek at my blocking bag:


Since this is actually being published somewhere, I think it means I need to come up with a name more creative and memorable than "Komi Bag 2". Any suggestions?

I've also finally cast on for the felted hat. Another reason to love a provisional cast on: When you keep thinking you need 120 stitches, instead of the proper 102, it's okay. Unlike other cast ons, you are not obligated to actually work every stitch you cast on into the piece.

Things to look forward to seeing soon(ish):
* finished Komi bag
* finished felted hat (with reservoir tip!)
* a small project knit in cotton yarn, perhaps even incorporating intarsia, if the cotton isn't too fussy. (Fun fact: I've never done intarsia before. Not even a test swatch.)
* a beautiful crocheted hat (I didn't knit it, but the wonderful person who did is sending it to me. I can't wait to share, because it's spectacular.)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

it only took 8 months

Fair Isle Pullover With Vertical Stripes
designed by Jane Hill, in the book Sweaters From Camp

There was no natural light today, so this was the best I could do for the boring, flat shot. (There are enough photos of this thing that I didn't feel the need to make this particular photo super special. We all know what it looks like by now.):

Pullover with Vertical Stripes - done


Pullover with Vertical Stripes - modeled

armpit and belly:

Pullover with Vertical Stripes - streeeetch

sleeve decreases are pretty:

Pullover with Vertical Stripes - sleeve decreases

The yarn is Knitpicks Palette, using a colorway completely different than the original. I also knit it to a tighter gauge, as the pattern only has one size, which is too big for me. I added corrugated ribbing to the hem and cuffs (instead of using the purl when you can technique), and opted for plain 2x2 ribbing for the collar, instead of icord. I though I might have gone with corrugated ribbing there, but afraid it would look too busy in that spot. (Also, 2x2 ribbing pulls in more, and is stretchier.) Basically, I took the charts and basic shape from the pattern, and improvised the rest of the details.

... ta-da!

(Next up: new Komi bag for the SnB 2008 calendar, felted hat, a couple of pairs of mittens, and forays into sock design)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

cuffs of temptation


I've spent the past couple of days knitting cuffs. The cuff on the left is for a Komi mitten. I decided to go with regular k2p2 ribbing instead of corrugated ribbing for a few reasons. Okay, the main reason is because the corrugated ribbing was just more fiddly than I wanted to deal with, on super skinny, super slippery needles. The needles are fine to work with now, but were a pain the first row or two after the looser cast on edge. Plus, they're so heavy that it takes longer for the knitting to become stable, compared to working with light, sticky bamboo DPNs. And if I want to make believe it wasn't just me being lazy, regular ribbing is more practical, since it draws in. And the mittens themselves will be busy enough, without the cuff being all stripey.

The cuff on the right is obviously a Vertical Stripes cuff. I made it longer than the hem, with 27 rounds instead of 18. I'm quite pleased that my estimates for circumference and length worked out so well. I decreased from 82 stitches to 72 for circumference, and estimated how many rounds I'd need based on how much length I wanted to gain.

I'm being tempted by so many other projects, now that Vertical Stripes is almost done. I started the mitten cuff so I'd have something to work on while VS was blocking. I really should felt my hat swatch this afternoon, so I can write and knit that pattern next. And then I need to knit another Komi-ish bag. My design wasn't accepted for the new Stitch 'n Bitch book, but they want it for their 2008 calendar, and I'm just waiting for a confirmation that my new chart is okay with them before I cast on for that. I wasn't sure at first whether I was going to do the design for the calendar, because I'll have to really pare down the detailed pattern instructions I'd like to write, to fit on a little pattern-a-day calendar page. But I'll still be able to publish the pattern on my own, so I've decided to do the pared down version for them, and in the meantime self-publish a much more information-rich version of the pattern, with 3 or 4 different colorwork options, lots of photos, etc. I've even found a couple of test knitters, so hopefully that project will be done and ready for purchase in a few months. (It doesn't hurt that the woman I've been communicating with about the calendar pattern has been incredibly supportive and enthusiastic. It's hard to turn down an opportunity to work with someone like that.)

So should I be good and start on the second VS cuff, or be naughty and start on the fun part of the mitten? I think I'll be good, because as much fun as it would be to start on the mitten, I'll feel restless and uneasy until VS is done. All casting on and no finishing makes Bowerbird a frantic woman.

Monday, October 09, 2006

blocking, swatching, SFCKAL update

Before anything else, I must say a huge thank you for the wonderful comments on the Hiawatha shawl. You guys are too kind. And now for some real content:

Vertical Stripes is finally, finally kind of done-ish. I finished knitting the second sleeve, and it's blocking in preparation for the knitting of cuffs and collar. I also started some swatching, for a felted hat I'm knitting for a friend, and for some Komi mittens for myself.

VS blocking, felted hat swatch, Komi mittens swatch

The hat is being knit with Wool of the Andes, and boy did it feel weird to knit that swatch with size 10.5 needles. It was like knitting with sausages. Or broomsticks. Or perhaps elephant trunks. BIIIIG!

The mittens will be knit with Harrisville Shetland Style, which has been sitting in a drawer since January, waiting for the perfect project. I'm planning on knitting pattern 25 from Schurch's mitten book. That's the one on the cover, though I'm knitting it in just 2 colors. I really like the patterning on it, and while I adore the color combination used in the original, it completely hides the beauty of the pattern. I think it will look gorgeous in my russet and cream yarn. I'll probably be using size 00 needles, which will be fun interspersed with the size 10.5 needles for the hat.

On a completely different note, it's time to do a SFCKAL update. First, I want to announce that I've decided to put an end date on the knitalong. It seems like a lot of people are losing steam, so maybe having a solid end date will encourage folks to pick up their sweaters again. In any case, it's good for me, because I'd rather not feel an obligation to do updates if there are only a handful of people still participating in the knitalong. I'll keep the Yahoo group open pretty much indefinitely, but I'm going to declare the blogging portion of the knitalong over on February 15, 2007, exactly one year after the start date. If there is enough to report, I'll go back to weekly updates this fall and winter. If not, I'll just do updates when I have a chunk of stuff to share, with the last one on February 15. Here's what I have this time around: