Friday, April 28, 2006

bag guts and Ingeborg blocking

The bag is done blocking, and I've closed up the bottom with a 3 needle bindoff. Here's a shot of the inside, which is possibly prettier than the outside:

Komi Bag, inside out (April 28, 2006)

Too bad it will soon be hidden. I'll be lining it next week. In fact, C. will help me with the lining when she helps me sew the Ingeborg steeks. Yup! It's scheduled for Monday. Here she is blocking:

That's enough for today. I'm listening to some Brenda Dayne, and it's hard to concentrate while typing. Have a good weekend!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

buh-bye socks

I just got back from the post office, where I saw the Mamluke socks off. They're heading out of the country, so I got my sock pal's address a bit early. I actually got it a few days ago, but as they're only going to Canada, I didn't think they'd need a full week's head start on their journey.

Since I'm not usually that great with adding frilly things or fun illustrations to packages, I had to do with my silly sense of humor for package decoration. The packaging was just wrong, and I had to make some corrections and additions:

Sockapalooza envelope 1

Sockapalooza envelope 2

Think 3M would hire me as a package designer?

(I figure that the job of postal workers has got to be pretty boring, now that people mostly email instead of sending real letters. Got to do something to give them a chuckle during their day, right?)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

SFCKAL Week 11; peek at the bag

I may be picking up my Vertical Stripes sweater again sometime soonish. I'd like to finish up Ingeborg first, but since I haven't yet blocked the pieces or contacted C. about sewing for the steeks, who knows when that will happen.

I did finish the "body" of the Komi bag. Here's a photo of it blocking:
Komi Bag - April 26, 2006

Next steps: 3 needle bindoff to close up the bottom (where the white yarn is), then figure out the border and handles at the top. I have plenty of yarn leftover, and will use the dark blue for the border and handles. Maybe I should have made the bag a little bigger, given how much yarn I have leftover. This was supposed to be stashbusting, in addition to a contest entry and just plain fun.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

the bag

Komi Bag, April 25, 2006

Hopefully I'll be done with the main part of the bag in a couple of days. It depends on how my hands hold up. Knitting with worsted weight at this gauge is a bit tough, though the softness of the yarn (Patons Classic Merino) helps a bit. Still, the callous on my right ring finger is pretty impressive.

By the way, one of the fun weekend activities I forgot to mention yesterday is the grey yarn. I finished processing the grey merino/silk yarn that I frogged from Leo. It's all clean, de-kinked, and re-balled. It smells and feels so wonderful, now. Alas, there are other things on my plate before I get to it. But I really look forward to working with it again.

Monday, April 24, 2006

all the pieces, even if everything else is falling apart

This should be an adventure! I'm posting from A's scary Dell (no, seriously, it took many minutes for Blogger to even load). My ibook seems to have died. There's a chance that the RAM thingies are just loose, given one of the weird messages I got when I tried to boot it up from the software CD, but as I don't actually have a screwdriver tiny enough to let me into the guts of the thing, the investigation will have to wait. It's really too bad, as the thing died on me as I was finishing working with photos I'd just put into iPhoto, for a blog post. There was a really awesome sleeve in progress photo, and I can only hope that one day I'll see it again.

But things aren't all bad. Despite spending way too much time futzing with the computer, I managed to finish the second Ingeborg sleeve this weekend. So instead of a cool in progress shot (it was really cool, and I'm really disappointed I can't share it), you get a mundane finished sleeve shot. You'll have to deal. :-)

Ingeborg - all the parts (April 24, 2006)

Yeah, I know it's a little fuzzy. I just don't have the patience for technology right now.

So now I have to make a date with C's sewing machine. Oh, and I also should block the pieces first. In the meantime, I started the bag! I did a cursory swatch in two colors of worsted weight wool which I won't be able to use, as that yarn isn't available at my LYS. (Gotta comply with contest rules!) It's too bad, because I kind of liked the blindingly bright green/purple combo. But the more subdued blue on blue is also lovely. I didn't swatch for exactness, but more to get a feel of whether I'd like knitting worsted weight on size 3 needles, and to get a feel of approximately what gauge and fabric I'd get. This is a bag, so things don't have to be too exact.

I ended up getting just under 7 stitches per inch in my swatch, though I think it will end up being slightly looser. I'm using the chart from pattern 20 in the Knitting Marvelous Mittens book, adapted to have a few extra solid stripes on the side seams. I did a provisional cast-on, knit a few rounds in a solid color, and am a few rows into the chart. So now it's just round and round in circles until I like the height of the bag. I think the width is sufficient that I'm probably not going to want to do shaping, though I may feel differently in a few inches. I don't have a photo today because there's not much to see, yet. I'll try to get at least one in progress photo of the body, for those of you who are curious about the colorwork pattern, and don't own the book I borrowed it from.

I meant to post at least once this weekend, since I got so much knitting done. Stupid, stupid technology. I don't think the knitting disaster roundup is going to happen, but a bunch of people left interesting comments on that post, so go back and take a peek if you're curious. And if you want a deeper view on tragedy and knitting, by all means listen to the latest episode of Cast On.

This is a really disjointed post. Also in the maybe-dead ibook is a sticky with a nice, neat list of all the things I wanted to blog about this weekend. Now that I don't have my crutch, you're getting impatient stream of consciousness. There is one wonderful thing on that sticky that I'm not going to blog about, yet. It's something a friend of mine made, but I got the feeling from her recent post about that project that there may be more photos coming, soon. You know who you are, Ms. Ksubnaught. Are there more photos? 'Cause you know I'm going to have to eventually send the readers of this blog over to look at your gorgeous creation. :-)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

SFCKAL week 10 (exciting things!); sleeve and socks

Thanks for the prodding on the Ingeborg sleeve. I did cast on.
Ingeborg Sleeve 2

I also played around with flickr toys, and made a sock collage. Nothing new here, but I think it's really pretty.
sock montage
(If you don't remember any of them, and are curious, click. There are notes on the Flickr page.)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Ingeborg Sleeve 1 - April 18, 2006

Can you tell I haven't blocked it yet? ;-) I'll probably wait until both are done, and block them at the same time.

So what do I do next? I've got some Retro Ribs on the needles for A, but should either cast on for the second Ingeborg sleeve or for a bag.

My LYS is having a bag contest, and I've been designing (in my head) a worthy submission. I'm pretty limited in yarn choice, as the yarn has to come from or be available at the store, and I'm not going to buy anything. I'm going to use my two 85% complete balls of Patons Classic Merino to make a small colorwork bag. I don't want to do anything felted because I don't know if I have enough yarn, and I certainly don't have enough to swatch properly to plan post-felting size. I think my bag will use one of the Komi stitch patterns from the Knitting Marvelous Mittens book (probably altered to work across more stitches), and will be knit at a very tight gauge, maybe on size 3 DPNs. I'll make it fairly small, to hold keys and a wallet, or maybe to be a sock in progress tote. I think I'm going to start with a provisional cast on (and use a 3 needle bindoff to close it up later), knit the bag with little or no shaping, with 2 faux-seams on the side (to hide jogs), and use an icord bindoff at the top. I also plan to make icord handles, perhaps starting the icord bindoff on opposite ends, and having each half of that transition into a separate handle, with the handles crossing at the top and attaching at the other side. Details may change as I go, and I might trade yarn with a friend for a contrast color yarn for the icord edging and handles.

But that bag isn't due until the end of May, so I should probably get going on the second Ingeborg sleeve. I took careful notes on increase frequency, so it should be a relatively stress free process.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

frogging and mistakes

What have I been doing lately, instead of working on the Ingeborg sleeve? This:

frogged yarn, ready to wash

I finished frogging Leo, and am mostly done with the transition to hanks, so I can wash the yarn. (I frogged it onto the ball winder first.) The really crinkly hanks are from the last piece of the sweater, which I just frogged yesterday. The rest was (un)done months ago.

I've been thinking a lot about what to do with the yarn. It's a merino/silk (70/30) worsted weight, and I have 1900-2000 yards, not counting the bits and pieces that are shorter than 1/2 or 1/3 of a ball, which I'll use for seaming or landfill. What I do know is that it will be another sweater for A. Probably about 40" around, probably about 24-25" in length. I had this brilliant idea of doing a top-down raglan, but I want to incorporate some texture and/or light cablework into the sweater, and am a bit iffy on how I'd make that look right with raglan shaping. The easy answer would be to have a center texture/cable motif down the front (and maybe back and/or sleeves), which wouldn't interfere with the raglan lines, and stockinette and/or some other filler stitch for the rest of the sweater.

On the other hand, I do think I have enough yardage to do something slightly fancier, and might go with a drop or set in sleeve shape, to make it easier on myself to have texture over more of the body. (I know some sweaters, like Am Kamin, incorporate all-over patterning very nicely with raglan shaping. But it doesn't seem easy to do well, and I'm not quite sure that's what I want for this sweater.)

I've been looking at stitch pattern treasuries, and checked out Fishermen's Sweaters (Starmore) from the library. I actually like the look of the center diamond motifs on Inishmore. They add very interesting texture without being overwhelming or bulky, which is what I want for this sweater, and what I think would work best with this yarn. One possibility is to take just those motifs, and incorporate them into the sweater shape of my choice. (I don't think it's likely I'll opt to do drop sleeves.)

Blah blah blah. I'm sure I'll change my mind an annoyingly large number of times before I settle on a sweater shape and texture pattern. It will probably be a while before I knit it, anyway. Mostly, I'm trying to get some inspiration, so I have a varied but non-overwhelming number of choices to present to A. He should really make the final decision, as he's the one who will eventually be wearing the thing.

Finishing my destruction of Leo reminded me of mistakes I've made in sweaters past. The two big mistakes with Leo were not washing my swatch (boy did that yarn GROW), and going with the suggested size in the pattern instead of going with the size of sweater A tends to wear. (The pattern helpfully suggests what size to make depending on your actual chest measurement. But A. likes less ease than average, I guess.) This resulted in a baggy gorilla-arms sweater.

Leo was the third sweater I made. The first sweater I made was Flashy Lace. I made a bunch of great mistakes on that one! First, I decided to use the suggested yarn, which is 100% cotton. Now, it wasn't terrible yarn, but I know now that I really would have preferred working with wool. That might have helped my second big mistake be slightly less painful. I didn't realize that when I was picking stitches up for the sleeve, I was supposed to pull loops of yarn through, not try to put half of each armhole stitch onto my DPNs. Threading my DPNs (yes, plastic through cotton - do you feel my pain?) was hell, though it would have been slightly less hellish if I were working with wool, I think. My third big mistake was that the sleeve decreases were at the top of the sleeve instead of the bottom. I realized that this was probably wrong when I finished the first sleeve, but as it didn't look dreadful, I decided symmetry was best, and made the second sleeve to match. The sweater actually looked pretty nice when it was done, but as I gave it to my mom, I have no photos.

So, what are your favorite first (or subsequent) sweater mistakes? If enough people feel like leaving comments with stories, or comments with links to their own blog entries with stories, maybe I'll compile a list. :-)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

SFCKAL week 9; finished socks (for me!)

  • Jayne is getting friendlier with her chart. I love when that happens. Even though I know I won't memorize a whole complicated colorwork chart, it's nice when your brain kicks in and you start getting that gut feeling for how it all works and fits together.

  • Becki had some problems with her first go at the Crichton sleeve, and ripped it out. But she figured out the problem. Yay! (If it's any consolation, I did the same exact thing on the first sweater I ever knit. The decreases were at the top of the sleeve. bah!)

  • Terri is up to the armhole and V-neck shaping on her Northwest Sunset vest!

  • Lola has made massive progress on her Flyway Vest, and has a question about armhole shaping. (My advice would be to look at other vest patterns in the book, to see if their armholes are done in a similar way. I've only knit one colorwork vest, so my experience is pretty limited.)

  • Kilsharion has started on her Ark vest again. Maybe pictures next week? I'm curious to see how it looks!

  • TJ is making steady progression her Vertical Stripes sweater, and has a photo of how she centered the pattern in the back.

By the way, something was up with Yahoo and/or Gmail (I suspect Yahoo), and I didn't receive mail from the SFCKAL Yahoo group for the longest time. I woke up to a zillion emails. Um, sorry about that. I just thought there wasn't any discussion. I'll try to catch up on those this week.

I have no new colorwork goodness to show you (the Ingeborg sleeve is growing slowly), but I do have socks!
Koigu Go With the Flows, April 12, 2006

pattern: Go With the Flow, by Evelyn A. Clark, in Summer 2005 Interweave Knits
yarn: KPPPM p207b
blah blah blah: I made them shorter than the pattern says, because I was afraid of running out of yarn. I could have made them longer, but they're nice Springy socks, and long enough. I started on size 1 DPNs, but moved to size 0 partway down the cuff on both socks, because my gauge was too loose on the 1s. I knit these before in Kroy, so either I get a looser gauge with Koigu, or I knit looser on DPNs than I used to. I decreased to 16 stitches on the toes, instead of 12. The length was perfect without the extra decrease round, and I found the toes on my first pair to be a bit too pointy for my feet.

The fit? Perfect.
Koigu Go With the Flows (modeled), April 12, 2006
This photo involved great feats of balance and luck. (Can there be feats of luck?)

Monday, April 10, 2006

'Borg, Bernat, and Betty

The first Ingeborg sleeve is coming along:

Ingeborg - first sleeve, April 10, 2006

I'm keeping it relatively snug (though not form fitting) for now, because I know I'm going to want to block it out later. Blocking it a bit wider will help the colorwork and fabric evenness, and I don't want the sleeve to be too loose on me. (Also, I have pretty wimpy forearms.) I'm keeping track of my increase frequency, so sleeve 2 will match.

I went to my library's semi-annual book sale (donated books to raise money, not library books) this weekend, and made a great knitting find. In fact, it was the only knitting book I found. (I kept mostly to the crafty and cooking books, because it was hard to imagine buying a novel or scholarly non-fiction type book when I was standing in a library full of books I could read for free.) It's a Bernat book from 1945, with over 50 awesome patterns by Alice Carroll. There is a page at the beginning describing their goals and methods in putting this book together. They were aiming for a pattern collection that would represent classic styles and stitch patterns, and they sure achieved it. I'd happily knit most of the patterns in the book, 61 years later. I'm thrilled with this find. Take a look at the cover:

vintage Bernat booklet
I love that I bought the book for the original price. :-D

I also borrowed Knitting Around (by Elizabeth Zimmermann). I've never read any of her work, and boy am I impressed. In fact, I'm almost done with the book. The patterns are unique and clever, and her "digressions" are amazing. Not only is she a great writer, but she led such an interesting life. I've had people recommend her books to me before, and I wish I'd started reading her work sooner. I highly recommend this one to all of you.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

I wish I were my own Sockapaloooza pal.

I have to admit, the Mamluke socks weren't a lot of fun to knit. I thought they would be, but the yarn was a little fiddly to work with in stranded colorwork at this gauge. (I found it easier to work with at the tighter gauge I used for the Komi sock.) But still, it wasn't a terrible knit, and I'm extremely pleased with the final products.

Mamluke Socks - done!  April 6, 2006
I pulled out the 70's throwback harvest gold towel for blocking, and thought the contrast was so interesting that I'd use it for photos, too!

Mamluke socks - modeled

And for those of you wondering how the heel works on these socks:
Mamluke socks - side (modeled)
Mamluke socks - bottom

The photos where I'm wearing the socks were taken before blocking and finishing. My feet are a tiny bit bigger than my sock pal's feet, and I didn't want to model them after I washed and blocked them. By the way, when I blocked, the only things I pinned were the ribbed cuffs. The size and stitch evenness didn't need much help.

pattern: Mamluke Socks
source: Folk Socks, by Nancy Bush
yarn: Lanett merino (fingering weight, superwash) - well under a skein of each color
needles: size 1 and 2 DPNs
modifications: I used smaller needles for the heels and lower half of the feet, for snugness. I did fewer repeats of the diamond pattern on the leg, and an extra one on the foot, to achieve a proper fit. I also added a row of blue right after finishing the diamonds (chart c) on the foot, as I think it was a pattern mistake for it not to be included. (Leaving it out is inconsistent with the other pattern transitions, and that blue row even appears in the photo in the book.)
next time?: There might be a next time. I think I'd go for a snugger fit, overall. I didn't want to go too snug for the leg, as these aren't for me. Also, if I made these again, I'd probably go for a more substantial yarn. My sock pal wanted soft, and she definitely got soft. These were soft to begin with, and after a bath they're like butter. But for me, I prefer the feel (while knitting) and the look of a denser fabric. The last mod I know I'd make if I knit these again is to lengthen the ribbing at the top. 3 rows is pretty meager. I'd probably go for a full inch of it.

Please see this post (from last week) for more notes.

And now for some replies to comments:
1. Eva wants to try fair isle, and asked me some questions. She asked if I use the same size needles for fair isle as in plain one-color knitting, or if I change needle sizes. For me, it really depends. The general rule of thumb I've read in a lot of places is that many people tend to knit tighter in fair isle than otherwise, so it's a good idea to go up a needle size or two. For me, this really varies. In fact, I think I'm more likely to knit more loosely in fair isle, because switching colors every few stitches means I don't keep up that tighter constant tension I have in single color knitting. The best answer is to swatch. And for best results, swatch with the yarn and needles you plan to use, and swatch in the round if you plan to knit in the round. Oh, and don't forget to keep on measuring your gauge as you knit. Sometimes the gauge in your garment can change from what you got in your swatch. I think people are particularly susceptible to this when they're first learning a new technique.

As for the type of yarn to use, I don't think that acrylic is the best choice for learning fair isle. Okay, I'm not an acrylic fan in general. But I think that acrylic is a bad choice for fair isle because you are going to want to use some of the properties of wool to your advantage. Wool does many things well, and two of those things are felting and keeping shape memory. Your final product will be a lot nicer if you can block it. Even very experienced fair isle knitters are going to often produce a knitted fabric that is not perfectly flat and even. Blocking fair isle, in my experience, is an essential step. Even if you're only swatching, you're going to want to use a natural fiber and block, to see how much your fabric can and will be improved. Also, with wear the floats on the back of a fair isle garment will start to kind of felt to the fabric. This is a nice little feature, and another good reason to use wool (or alpaca, or other feltable fibers) for fair isle knitting.

2. Kerry asked if I knit the Mamlukes inside out, as I did for the Komi sock. Yup, I did! I think I'm getting better at keeping an even tension across needles with that technique, too. Now, trying to do colorwork on DPNs right side out feels really weird.

3. Thanks for all the comments last week to the Mamluke post and the Flash Your Stash post. The latter got 19 comments. Wow! I had no idea it would generate that sort of response. I enjoyed reading all of the responses. It feels nice to express opinions, as well as just post photos of stuff I've knit.

I cast on for the first Ingeborg sleeve last night. I had knit 14 of the 15 cuff rows before I realized that I stupidly cast on 10 stitches too many. But now I'm past that point, and into the actual colorwork. Yay!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Sweaters From Camp knitalong, week 8

Me? Vertical Stripes will be in hibernation for a long while, so definitely no updates on that this week, or this month. But I did finish knitting the second Mamluke sock. Photos to follow tomorrow, after they are dry, and after I weave in ends and close up a couple of little holes. But here's a teaser preview:

Saturday, April 01, 2006

flash your stash (warning: slightly preachy)

I wasn't sure if I was going to do the "flash your stash" thing. On one hand, I'm a nosy person who loves to see what other folks have hiding in the closets. On the other hand, despite the nosiness, I'm often put off by what often amounts to bragging about how much a person has spent on such and such luxury yarn they may or may not even have a plan for. Chalk it up to part jealousy and part being raised to treat luxury purchases as very rare and well planned out events. Also, I've seen the attitude in some places that you're not a "real" knitter or truly dedicated to the craft if you don't find yourself with a compulsive need to buy and horde yarn. Insert expletive of your choice here. (I realize this is not an attitude held by all, or even many, but when I see it it really gets my goat. Don't try to define my interest in something by the size of my wallet or the contents of my underbed storage space.)

My stash is probably pretty small (and shrinking), compared to much of what's out there in knitting blog land. Much of it is in use for current projects, of which I don't have many on the needles. (The count is temporarily up to 4, but will be back down to 3 when I finish Sockapaloooza knitting next week.) Of course I've made some silly, unplanned purchases in the past. But I quickly learned that that's not my style. I'd much rather have a small stash of sock yarn (because a sock should always be on the needles), and yarn for whatever project I'm currently knitting or planning to start in the very near future. (I'm also not averse to having some J&S and other colorwork-friendly yarn sitting around, as that's the kind of yarn that one inevitably has leftovers of, and is best saved for incorporating into future colorwork projects rather than knit up just for the sake of using it up.) I know there is often a thrill associated with making a yarn purchase. I prefer for that thrill to be accentuated by the knowledge that I'm not only buying the yarn, but that I'll get to start knitting with it really, really soon. When I start a new project, I don't want it to be because I have to use up the yarn that's been sitting in my stash for 5 (10, 15...) years. I want it to be because I really, really want to knit that project, and because I just bought the perfect yarn for that very purpose. I don't want to be a glutton. I want to have the patience to wait an extra day or week or month for the perfect yarn, rather than have a whole yarn store's worth in my stash, "just in case". I would prefer to buy storage units and tupperware containers to store hand-knit sweaters and socks, not to store extra stash. SABLE (stash acquisition beyond life expectancy) is not for me. For me I find it to be a sad and frightening concept. I want my life to be about the things I create, and the beauty and inspiration I add to the world. I don't want my life to be about the purchased objects I'll leave behind one day.

I have too much yarn. My project, for as long as it takes, is to use up as much of what I already own as possible. (As I mentioned above, I'm okay with keeping some sock yarn and colorwork yarn in the stash.) Money is extremely tight right now, and I don't have the money to buy yarn for the projects I most long for. The projects I'm knitting now (two small gauge colorwork sweaters) will take through the Spring to finish. After that, I have one or two projects that are not for me, but which I've committed to, and for which I'll have to make relatively small purchases. The rest of the projects I knit this year? Whether for me, for friends, for family, or for charity, it will come from what I own. I don't want to have an entire drawer full of leftover worsted weight yarn, but that's what I have now. Yes, I may be aching to knit an aran cardigan for myself, but that will come only after I knit the yarn leftovers. Yes, I may have been talking about knitting the Autumn Color Cardigan (from the cover of Sweaters From Camp) for well over a year, now. That will come after I knit the yarn leftovers. Not only will this save me money, but it will also provide myself, friends, family, and strangers in need, with warm woolly goodies. There will be plenty of time for Am Kamin, St. Brigid, and more fabulous colorwork sweaters in the future. For now, I need to do a little Spring (and Summer, and Autumn, and Winter) cleaning.

But I took photos of my yarn, as it's hard to pass up an excuse for yarn organization, and to use the fun label tools on Flickr. And with that said, here's my "stash". I only posted thumbnails here. Clicking on them will bring you to Flickr, where each photo has multiple labels describing what the yarn is, as well as notes on what I may use it for.

yarn I'm currently using:
stash (WIP), March27

mostly sock yarn (mostly leftovers):
stash (mostly socks), March27

misc. leftovers (mostly worsted weight):
stash (etc.), March27

an ill fitting sweater that I need to finishing frogging before I can re-knit: