Sunday, April 29, 2007

delayed gratification

Scottische Kilt Hose #1

That's a lot of sock. It's knit in Brown Sheep Naturespun sport on 2.25 mm. needles. The shaping is altered to fit my leg. I'll go into more detail when the pair is done, but a word of advice to anyone knitting these, or other knee socks: Determine your decrease (or increase) rate by measuring the sock when it is on your leg. My sock is significantly shorter when on my leg than when not, because of the horizontal stretch. If I'd gone by the flat measurements, there's no way this sock would fit me.

a tale of two cuffs

I had every intention of getting a lot of sleeve knitting done this weekend. I knit the hem on my smaller needles, wrote out my increases cheat sheet, dug out my 3.25 mm. DPNs, and saw this:

different points
(My needles aren't really this pretty. I was just playing with my photo editing software.)

That's a Clover DPN on the left, and the SRK The Collection circ I used for the sweater body on the right. I don't want to knit with those Clover needles. Not only will it be annoying, but there's a chance it will be bad for my gauge. I think the grey Inox needles might be closer to the SRK needles in terms of pointiness and taper. Maybe I'll run to the fabric store during lunch tomorrow to see if those will do. I think they carry Inox DPNs.

It might be a low-volume knitting week for me. I'm going away Thursday and Friday (and maybe Saturday), and want to spend more of my free time this week on the writing I've been neglecting. I was in a generally crabby mood last week, for no apparent reason, and need to figure out a good way to snap out of it. I thought that way would be to knit 6 beautiful inches of sleeve this weekend, but as even my knitting needles are conspiring against my pursuit of happiness, I'll take the hint from the universe and try to be a more well rounded person. (Sage, if you have my muse, send her home!)

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

one big tube

Autumn Color Cardigan, April 24, 2007

My needles are liberated. I love the moment when you finish binding off, or, as in this case, putting stitches on holders. Free needles! They get to breathe, after days or weeks or months smothered in wool. It's a grand feeling.

The sweater obviously isn't done, but I've reached a real milestone here. I've completed the bottom part of the body, up to the armpits. My next step is to knit 2 sleeves. Then the sleeves will be joined with the body, for some in-the-round set in sleeve shaping, to go along with the yoke.

I was asked about both spit splicing and evenness in the comments on my last post. First of all, my fabric isn't perfectly even. That's what blocking is for. Secondly, I think the only way to become confident in your stranded colorwork skills (and happy with the products) is experience. My skills have certainly improved a whole lot over the past couple of years. As for spit splicing, there is a nice illustrated explanation here. For the record, I use water, not spit. That way I can eat chocolate while knitting. I also found that sucking on the wool (because there's no way I'd have the stomach to spit onto it) resulted in fibers in my mouth. A little cup of water is really the way to go, in my book.

And how about something completely different? Vastly, wildly different. For me, at least. This weekend, I walked down to my local bookstore, and bought a copy of Spinning in the Old Way.

I swear, it's not because it's trendy. It's because a co-worker has a farm, and has offered me a fleece. And even though I don't know how to spin, if someone is going to offer me a fleece, I'm going to accept it. Spinning is one of those things I knew I eventually wanted to learn how to do, because it will bring me one step closer to making things from scratch. And starting from a fleece, as opposed to pre-dyed and processed roving, is the way I envisioned I'd start. I didn't expect it to happen so soon, but now that the opportunity is here, I'm getting quite excited about it. A couple of friends recommended Spinning in the Old Way to me when I mentioned this new potential undertaking, and as they both know my personality and crafting style pretty well, I took that as a sign that this was the book for me. I've skimmed through the entire book and closely read the first half, and am about ready to declare my devotion to top-whorl spindling, though I have yet to lay my hands on a spindle. Or fiber.

While I wait for my fleece and read up on spinning, I have some planning and preparation to do. I've already received excellent instructions on how to wash the fleece, and am in the process of deciding between using a drum carder (which I'll probably be able to borrow from another co-worker, as I obviously work for the best employer in the nation), or trying to track down (or *gulp* buy) cards for hand carding. I'm leaning towards hand carding, and would commit to it full force if it weren't for the necessary expense of buying the equipment. (If you really want to alleviate my anxiety over this, feel free to buy 10 or 15 copies of the hat pattern. That should cover it. She says with a wry smile.)

Despite my desire to do things from scratch, with a raw fleece, I expect to buy a drop spindle and some prepared fiber to start out with. I don't expect to become an expert spinner right away, but I'd prefer that my first spinning experience isn't with the fiber that I slaved over to prepare. Plus, if the fleece thing doesn't work out, Gibson-Roberts' book has gotten me so excited about all of the geeky, scientific aspects of spinning that there is no turning back now. The mere prospect of a fleece has bootstrapped me into a spinner. So this is going to happen, one way or another. And now I have a really good reason to try to make it to the New Hampshire Sheep & Wool Festival next month. I'm hoping there will be some good deals on locally made spindles, cards, and fiber. I'm just bursting to learn these new skills.

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Saturday, April 14, 2007


Autumn Color Cardigan - April 14, 2007

This photo was taken a row or two after I finally incorporated the eighteenth (of eighteen) colors into the sweater. I guess this counts as a milestone.

I've had some questions related to using so many colors in one sweater. For those of you who are wondering, I'm spit splicing (so there aren't a kajillion ends to weave in), and there are only two colors used per row. Furthermore, no more than one color ever changes from one row to the next.

I was just talking to a friend about my knitting, and mentioned my knee-socks in progress. She had no idea what I was talking about at first, and I realized that I only blogged about them once, and very briefly. Here's an updated photo of my Schottische Kilt Hose:

Schottische Kilt Hose -- April 14, 2007

That's still the first one. I'm mostly working on it at knitting group once a week, so the progress is slow. Because the sweater is going more slowly than I anticipated, and since I want it to be completed by the end of July (in time for the county fair), I'm avoiding the temptation to knit the socks more than once a week. Perhaps I'll pick up the pace again once I'm more secure in the progress of the sweater. I'll be out of town (and not knitting) for a couple of weeks in July, and I don't want to have to do silly things like pull all-nighters just to get the sweater done in time for the fair. It should ideally be a leisurely, non-stressful process.

Kilt Hose closeup

While I have your attention, I have a third topic to discuss. (I promise that "eighteen" does not refer to the number of topics in this post. This is the last one, I swear.) Becki recently sent me a beautiful skein of sportweight Morehouse Merino yarn. It's a soft single ply, and I have 220 yards of it. I think that it would make a great scarf, and I've been contemplating making a mini-Cozy. The problem is that I have no sense of whether I could get a decent length scarf with the amount of yarn I have. For those of you with more experience knitting lace scarves with sportweight yarn, what do you think? Could I get a respectable length (say, 48" or longer) 6" or 7" wide Cozy out of 220 yards of sportweight? Or should I give up hope and think of another use for the yarn?

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Smoke Signals hat pattern

Wavy Hat

Wavy Hat top

This 5 page pattern is great for using up odds and ends of worsted weight yarn. The colorwork is deceptively easy, and this project would make a great first stranded colorwork project for any knitter who has been thinking of giving the technique a try.

skills needed
knitting in the round, stranded colorwork, basic chart reading, basic decreases (k2 together).

16", 18", 19", 20", 21.5", and 24" circumference options (The original hat is 16", with supplementary instructions for the larger sizes.)

two 50 gram balls (about 100 yards each) of worsted or heavy worsted yarn, in colors of your choice

Most knitters will get gauge with US 5, 6, or 7 (3.75mm, 4mm, or 4.5mm) knitting needles. You will need DPNs for the top of the hat, unless you prefer to use the 2 circ. technique or magic loop. You can use 16" (or larger, depending on hat size) circulars for the majority of the hat. You will also need a darning needle for weaving in ends.

This pattern costs $5.50. It is in PDF format, and requires Adobe reader to view. (The latest version of which can be downloaded here.) After you purchase the pattern you should receive an email with a download link within a matter of minutes:

If you prefer, you could buy it directly from its Ravelry page.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


Autumn Color Cardigan - April 5, 2007

I don't have much to say today. I've been knitting. The sweater is slowly growing. All is well. The rooster flies at midnight.

There is an error in chart B, which is the chart I'm knitting now. It's a fairly obviously error if you compare the charts (charts B and D are the same, except with colors value reversed and stitches offset), or if you compare chart B to the photo. Of course, I needed Jessica to confirm that I wasn't just hallucinating. If you're knitting the sweater, let me know if you don't find the error, and I'll email you a scan of my corrected chart. I'm also going to let the folks at Schoolhouse Press know, so perhaps they can correct the chart in future printings or adjust the errata sheet for books that are already printed.

The hat pattern is coming soon. In fact, I hope that it will come tomorrow. I'll be selling it for a small fee, and am trying to figure out payloadz right now. The basic pattern is for a 16" hat, with tips for altering the pattern for up to a 22.5" circumference. But more on that when the prep work is all done.


Monday, April 02, 2007

Symphonic Knitting

I know it's a cliche to say that something is a "symphony of colors," and even though I want to say that, I don't mean it in that cliched way.

Let's talk Beethoven. He wrote beautiful and interesting music, and he liked to play head games with people. Not only is there a great deal of humor in his music, but there's the occasional whiplash moment, as well as at least one instance of brilliant teasing. (I'm sure there are more, but I am alas not a Beethoven scholar.) I can imagine him snickering to himself as he composed, imagining how audiences would react, and in some cases squirm uncomfortably in their seats. You know that college admissions essay topic, about having lunch with a famous person from history? Sneaky, wry old Beethoven would be near the top of my list. I'd love to pick his brain a bit.

I bring this up because I thought of him while knitting my Autumn Color Cardigan hem. In particular, I thought of the beginning of the last movement of his first symphony. It teases you with a scale that builds... and builds... and builds... but just takes way too long to complete itself. If you're paying attention, it feels like an itch you can't scratch, or like when someone says the first half of a favorite quote, and then leaves off the rest. You just want him to get to the point, already, and finish the damn scale. It's beautifully torturesome -- a drawn out diatonic agony, forcing you to hold your breath until it reaches its climax, and the movement gets moving.

This is exactly what knitting this hem felt like. I loved it, but it was also somewhat torturesome. Similar to the irritation of hearing just a few notes of a musical scale, at first I was only seeing a few colors of the spectrum. I knew that something approximating a rainbow was going to result, but as each row took about as long to knit as the entirety of Beethoven's first symphony takes to play, this rainbow was slow in coming. With each color change, I anticipated the next one, to draw me closer to the chromatic conclusion. And it felt so good when I finally got there:

Autumn Color Cardigan hem

(In other words, pumpkin yellow and forest green look like arse together. But you just know that when the rest of the colors come into play, there will be metaphorical harmony. And it will be good.)

Wondering what that section of Beethoven's first symphony sounds like? I'm sure you are just on the edge of your seat. Thanks to the wonders of YouTube, I can deliver. Click here for a video of that movement. Yes, do it. NOW. I command you. You only have to listen to about 42 seconds to hear the entirety of what I was describing above. (Or, if you can get your hands on a recording, listen to that. The sound quality in the video isn't spectacular.)

Now I want to design garments based on composers. Or famous works. Or sections of famous works. That could be a fun concept for a book, and might only take me 2 or 3 decades to complete...

For those of you wondering, yes, I am using the same colors of yarn as in the book. There is no way that I'm prepared to re-design a colorway this complicated on my own. I consider this project a learning experience in many ways, and one of those ways is a lesson in color theory. I already know that I'm going to learn a lot.