Monday, August 28, 2006

comfortably seats 3


I'm working on the second side section of Hiawatha. I think I'm about halfway through the 2nd of just under 11 pattern repeats of that, and should finish that section this week. That means that I'm close to doing the edging. I've never done edging on a lace shawl before, so this will be quite the learning experience for me. I'm going to try to learn how to knit backwards, so I won't have to flip the shawl around over and over again. I'm not sure how I'll like knitting backwards, but it should at least be a good wakeup exercise for my brain.

I haven't yet figured out whether it would be a good idea to weave in ends and do a preliminary blocking of the shawl before doing the edging. I was planning to leave the ends until after the edging is done, because I think having the edging there will give me a tiny more wiggle room when it comes to hiding woven-in ends. I'm really 50-50 on the blocking thing, though. I'm not sure whether knitting edging onto a blocked shawl will make it easier or harder to get a feel for whether the edging is coming out correctly, in proportion to the shawl body. Input on either of these issues is more than welcome. I'm sure things will turn out fine whatever I do, but I have a feeling that I could save myself some headaches by doing things one way or the other.

Completely unrelated to this project, I must again sing the praises of the wonderful people at Schoolhouse Press. On Friday, I had a few hours to kill in Concord, and found myself in a yarn shop. I wasn't overly impressed by the shop for the most part (overpriced, and too much breadth and not enough depth), but was very happy with their book selection. I drooled over a few books, including a wonderful book published by Schoolhouse Press. (When I say I drooled, I mean so figuratively. But the book was slightly water damaged, and I don't doubt that some other patron with excellent taste actually did drool all over it.) There was a particular sweater and sock pattern that I concentrated on for a good while. So much so that I kind of forgot to make note of the title of the book. None of the books on the Schoolhouse Press site rang a bell, so last night I sent them a desperate email, describing the patterns I fell in love with, hoping that the book was actually published by Schoolhouse Press. (How embarrassing would that have been if it wasn't actually one of their books.) I received a reply from Meg Swansen this morning, 10 hours after I sent the email. (And well before business hours even here on the east coast, an hour ahead of Wisconsin.) She thinks the book was Latvian Dreams, by Joyce Williams. That book does appear on their website, so I obviously didn't remember much about the book at all. Thank you Meg, and your amazingly quick psychic powers! The book is now at the top of my wishlist, and the only item there listed as "highest" priority. But I will remind my boyfriend that, if he chooses to purchase it for me this winter, he should buy it directly from Schoolhouse Press. We must support the absolutely amazing folks who produce books that are water damaged by our knitterly drool.

Speaking of Schoolhouse Press (I swear they're not paying me for this...), I will be doing a Sweaters From Camp Knitalong update sometime this week. Most participants seem to have dropped their projects for the summer (I hope only for the summer...), but there are a few women who have exciting updates, so it's time for me to do a post. If you're one of the knitalong participants and have progress you haven't blogged about yet, it would be great if you could get something up in the next couple of days, so I could include you in the update.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

head cozy

Braid and Bobble Hat
I didn't intend it as such, but now I can't help but invoke La's recent "one of these things is not like the other" posts.

pattern: Braid and Bobble Hat (FiberTrends)
designer: Carolyn Doe
yarn: Harrisville Highland
modifications: I left off the braided tassel. Last night I was looking at the hat, while it blocked on the styrofoam head, and realized that it looked perfect as-is. I kind of like the whimsical tassel in the pattern photo, but I think that my hat turned out less whimsical looking than that hat, regardless of the tassel. Maybe it's the color? Or the fit? Either way, no tassel for me this time. Also, I just learned that I've been misspelling "tassel" my entire life. That's kind of sad.

I also charted out the hat, since the pattern didn't contain any charts. I highly recommend doing this, as it's so much easier than reading the pattern as text. If I'd done the latter, I'd have to go back and forth between several different sections for every row. In fact, if I had to do that, I probably wouldn't have knit the hat at all. My chart is kind of wonky looking, because I did a literal charting of every row. This is as opposed to what I'd do for most cabled patterns, which is either not bother to chart the "wrong side" rows, or to chart everything as it appears from the right side. Because this hat has a section where the "right side" is on a different side than most of the pattern (because of the folded up brim), and because there's such a mix of seed stitch, stockinette, and reverse stockinette, I did literal charting. It's a bit dizzying to look at if you're used to more traditional cable charts, but when reading the chart row by row it was perfectly digestible and a huge help.

It fits my head better than I anticipated. I knitted it for a contest at my LYS because I had the yarn, and liked the pattern. But I wasn't sure that it would look right on me, and thought there was a good chance I'd give it as a gift, or put it in the charity knitting pile. (Well, there isn't yet a charity knitting pile. It would be the pile.) But it looks nicer on me than I thought it would, so it may be a keeper. Even though the orangey-red color will probably clash with my more classic red winter coat.

Thanks to Irie for the silly post title. Oh, and go listen to her podcast. And look at her grapevine socks. Good stuff!

Misty asked me a question about one of the Hiawatha charts. She was confused by the following row:


It helps to remember that the section of the row above is a repeat, which means it will be knitted back to back several times in a row. Notice that there are 3 plain knit stitches at the end of the repeat, and 4 at the beginning. This means that for all of the repeats in the middle (not the first and last), you'll end up knitting those 7 stitches all in a row. So the 4/7 is just giving you a shorthand, so you don't have to count those boxes every time. You'll knit 4 stitches at the beginning of that repeat, do the fancy lace stuff in the middle of the row, and can then just think to yourself "knit 7", instead of "knit 3", then "knit 4". Does that make sense?

In case you need more clarification, take a look at this row, which is from another part of that same lace pattern:


If you look carefully, you'll see that it's basically the same repeat as the one you were confused about. It's just shifted over, so the repeat starts and ends in a different place. But that only really matters at the beginning and the end of a row. In the middle of the row, you could just as easily be following this row of the chart as that other row of the chart.

I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any more questions. I would urge you to at least try to read the charts, instead of writing the pattern out. Once you get the hang of it, it's a lot easier than following written instructions. It helps if you use something to cover up the rows of the charts you're not working on, so your eye doesn't wander to confusing places. Just think one row at a time, and it's a lot less daunting of a challenge.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Is my head really this big?

Braid and Bobble hat band

It's not a scarf. It's a hat. And even though I have a small head, and this hat will have negative ease, I'm amazed at how much fabric it takes to cover my head. This happens every time I knit a hat. I think it will take maybe an hour, 'cause heads are so much smaller than torsos. I must think that my head is the size of an infant's. I once heard that if you spread out adult human lungs, they would cover a tennis court. I kind of feel the same way about hats. They're irrationally large. Or maybe I'm just irrational.

But I'm done with all of my cables and bobbles, and "just" need to seam up the thing and then pick up and knit the top. I'm sure that will take all of 20 minutes!

This pattern has inspired me to knit a cabled baby sweater with some of the leftover yarn I want to use up this year. I think this pattern would look really cute as a baby sweater, mirrored around the center, with mirrored cable crossings. And maybe I'd take out the bobbles. Symmetrical bobbles may just be too much bobble, even for a baby. I don't actually have a baby to give a sweater to, but I'm sure some charity would find a good use for it.

Oh, and I also started a sock. It's really simple and plain, but it feels wonderful to have something truly boring to work on.

wee socklet

Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, 3x1 ribbing, size 0 needles, 64 stitches. Around and around and around. I'm still trying to decide what to do about the heel. I might try an afterthought heel, as I've never done one before, and this seems like a good opportunity. On the other hand, I'm really curious about what this yarn would look like when it pools instead of stripes, which is bound to happen if I do my usual heel flap and gusset heel. I'm really enjoying this sock because it's so much nicer than I imagined, given the super stripey nature of the yarn. I've never worked with this bi-color LL colorway before, and it's prettier in person than in photos I've seen online. Each of the 2 colors is more of an "almost-solid" than a plain solid, which gives the sock a lot more depth and interest than I'd anticipated. I think the pooling would look really awesome. Have I convinced myself, yet?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

and now for the non-fluff

half of Hiawatha

That's half of Hiawatha. Well, more than half and less than half. Slightly more than half, not counting the edging. Much less than half, counting the edging. Are you tired of Hiawatha, yet? I'm getting there, which is why it's time for a change of pace:

Braid & Bobbles hat

That's the start of the Fiber Trends "Braid & Bobble Hat", by Carolyn Doe. It's more orangey in real life, but for some reason this yarn just photographs red. It's actually likely that what's in that photo will no longer exist by the time you read this, as I think I need to go up needle size for both size and fabric reasons.

You may be scratching your head over that hat photo, trying to figure out what part of the hat that is. The hat is constructed horizontally instead of vertically. So the cast on edge is the height of the hat, and it's grafted or seamed together when it's long enough to fit around my head. Then stitches are picked up to finish the top. Oh, and you might notice what looks like the rear end of a cable on the left side. That edge gets turned up, so the right side of the cable shows when you're wearing the hat.

I did a really lousy job swatching for this sucker. My shoulder was hurting (this was after the weekend of marathon soy silk knitting), and I only kinda-sorta swatched. I determined that I had to go down a needle size, so I just did, without swatching again. Whoops. I think the hat is turning out slightly small, and the fabric is really stiff. I'll go back up to size 5 circs, and if the hat turns out too tall, I'll just give it to someone else.

I had all these clever, interesting things to say, and forgot them all as soon as my fingers hit the keyboard. Sorry for the really dry post. :-/

take two (or three?)

One photo, two silly contest entries:

donkeysocks revisited

For the Amazing Lace Unlikely Model challenge, I present lace socks on a donkey. I was going to try to go really creative, since the moment you ask someone to think of or take a photo of the unexpected, everything becomes expected. I had this grand plan to use a fan to billow out my lace, and take a photo of my lace being modeled by nothing, which would truly be unlikely and unexpected. Alas, my idea was bigger than my technological capabilities, and it didn't work out. And really, there's only so far I'll go in terms of actually putting my lace in danger for a challenge. Hiawatha is a gift, after all. (Believe me - lace and giant box fans don't mix. Ask the severed end of the working yarn, which got caught up in the fan. No more lace stunts for me!)

This photo also fulfills the requirements for the Snakes on a Plane-inspired challenge posed at Knitters Anonymous. Socks! On a Donkey! Socks on a Donkey! That's at least as dangerous as Snakes on a Plane. Just ask any donkey.

Monday, August 14, 2006

weekend projects

Soy Bomb Basket:

Tofuzelle, floppy

bits and pieces:

Tofuzelle parts

It will all eventually look something like this. Did you know that wet Soy Silk smells very much like mildewy tofu?

woolly blob:

Harrisville Highland

It's really more orange than that, which I consider a very good thing. (I like red, but love the more orange-y shade of this yarn.) It's Harrisville Highland (an aran weight 100% wool yarn, spun in a mill about 20 minutes from my home), and will become a cabled hat. I got the yarn, still on a cone, at a swap last winter. I could barely believe that it was what the label on the cone claimed it was, but after a bath this weekend, it bloomed an amazing amount. I should have taken a "before" photo, because the difference post-washing is pretty astounding. And the funny thing is that it barely smelled at all when wet, unlike the Soy Silk. I hope that the hat this yarn becomes is as beautiful and well behaved as the yarn is.

Completely unrelated to the other stuff, I thought I'd write a bit about comments and feedback.

I know there is an attitude on some blogs and websites that non-positive feedback is something that shouldn't exist in the knitting or crafting community. I disagree, and wanted to make this clear. I don't want any of the readers of this blog to be under the impression that they're not welcome to express their opinions, positive or negative.

Please, if you have something critical to say, do say it. I'm not complaining about positive feedback (which I enjoy and greatly appreciate), and not inviting flaming. I merely want to encourage a spirit of thoughtful and truthful feedback. If one doesn't want truthful opinions on their work from a wide variety of people, they should not, in my opinion, post anything on a public website. I have a public blog with open comments because I am comfortable with the idea that someone out there might hate everything I do, and might feel the need to say so. I just ask that comments not be anonymous, and that they not be purposefully inflammatory.

But if y'all really love every stitch I ever make, feel free to keep up with the 100% positive feedback. Whatever floats your boat. ;-)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

orange you glad

Hedera mosaic
(Click here and here to see less abstract photos of the finished socks.)

pattern: Hedera
yarn: Patons Kroy
stuff I did differently: I made the leg a few repeats longer, and didn't really refer to the pattern for the toes. I like my own formulaic way of doing toes.

I had all but kitchenered the second sock last night (couldn't find my Chibi), and cast on for some socks with my Schaeffer Anne. I'm very sad to say that I don't think the yarn is going to work for socks. It's absolutely gorgeous yarn, but it's also the thinnest fingering weight I've ever encountered. The fabric I got with my size 0 needles was way too loose for socks, and my only needles smaller than that are the flimsy cheap-0 aluminum ones that I used for the Komi sock. I'm not using those again. So, I don't think the Schaeffer Anne is destined to be socks. I did a wpi check this morning, and I got 20. That's really, really thin for sock yarn. I'm disappointed, because I was really excited about having deep red socks. I guess I'll be keeping my eyes out for a nice lace scarf or shawl pattern that will work with 560 yards of what I'm content calling laceweight yarn.

This means I have no socks on the needles. To me, that's the knitting equivalent of being in a car without a seatbelt on. It just feels wrong, and a bit too daring for my tastes. Time to come up with a new sock project, aka knitting safety net.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

"You have won second prize in a beauty contest - collect $10"

fair collage

In actuality, I won $7 (combined). I have to admit, I'm a spoiled brat with the praise for my knitting from you guys, and am just a bit disappointed that neither of the items took first place. I didn't get to go to the fair, so I have no idea what won first place in the sweater or mittens/gloves/hats categories. The items weren't returned with scorecards or comments of any kind, so I'll never know what the judges did and didn't like about them. Oh, well. I think I'll live. ;-) (And maybe use my earnings to buy the new Vogue Knitting, with all the pretty sock patterns. Which I can't submit to the fair next year, because they don't have a sock category.)

I am very proud of my little ribbons, and will probably leave them on Ingeborg and the mittens until it's wool wearing season again. I'm particularly pleased that they're not generic ribbons, but specific for the event. The state seal is very spiffy.

I haven't been getting much knitting done lately. I was hoping to finish the second Hedera sock this weekend, but the weather was actually nice, and I was able to do things other than plant myself with my ipod and knitting in the air conditioned room. I'm not going to complain about that one bit. I did fix and change the blog template. I was getting tired of the green, and noticed a lot more people using that generic Blogger template than before. I figured that if I were going to have the same generic Blogger template as other knitters, it may as well be a truly generic black and white template. No bells and whistles, and only actual blog content to catch the eye.

Well, that's it for today. I have a lot of knitting to do before I'll have enough material for my next post, so if you're impatient, do your best to send heat and rain my way. I'll be spending this week trying to figure out if my brilliant idea for the 6th Amazing Lace challenge is physically possible (it probably isn't, but I'll try anyway), and hoping that I finally hear back about my submission to Debbie Stoller's new book. Oh fer excitement!

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Amazing Lace Challenge #5 - Where's Waldo?

otherwise titled: Walk Tall and Carry a Big Ball of Yarn and a Cello
or perhaps it should be: Look at My Vibrating G-String! (On the cello! Get your minds out of the gutter. ;-)

the challenge: Post a photo in which your lace is in a hidden or unexpected part of the picture.

This might be a bit tricky if you haven't been paying attention to my recent knitting. There are some distractions in this shot. Scroll down the page for a hint in mosaic form



Amazing Lace Where's Waldo Challenge mosaic
Best viewed in the larger size if you really want to see details. Also, check out my Amazing Lace photoset if you want to see the explanations of the photos.

Still don't see the Amazing Lace project in the original photo? I'll give you another hint: I don't own a petticoat.

And if you're still stumped (yes, I know I'm gravely insulting your intelligence by this point), click on the first photo in this post (or just click here), and you'll be able to see where I point out the Amazing Lace project in the photo.

This challenge was quite the, um, challenge. I originally got the idea of knitting little Waldo hats to create a Where's Where's Waldo - meets - E.T. shot, inspired by the shot in the movie where E.T. is hidden in the toy closet amongst the stuffed animals, wearing really silly clothing. I knit one hat, and realized that I had better ways to use my time and my leftover Naturespun Sport. I came up with this idea, and took a test photo earlier this week, to see if I'd be able to pull it off. Then I spent the week knitting my hands off, so that Hiawatha would be long enough to pin inside about half a skirt. I went through try after try after try to get the angle and camera placement correct. Sometimes the camera didn't behave. But eventually the forces of nature and technology came together, and I got my shot. And isn't it appropriate that I felt the need to narrate my process, since Hiawatha is a story narrative in lace form.

The most fun part of the challenge? Walking around the house without with a cello in hand and no bottom on. The least fun part of the challenge? Walking around the house with a cello in hand, a camera in hand, a laced-up skirt (with tons of t-pins) on, and a big ball of yarn balanced wherever I could put it. Or maybe that was fun, too.

For those of you actually following along on the project, here's a teaser photo of where I am:

Click to biggify.