9.28.2011

The ends of my bumpy, smooshy, masculine scarf need woven after binding off last night. Knitting with Cascade 128 Superwash was a total pleasure and my stash my be seeing a little more of that baby.

I'm also plotting what to do with the two skeins of Misti Alpaca Chunky I've got with me. I was some warm smooshy legwarmers, but Cascade 128 Superwash might be a better choice for that, I think I'd rather have the alpaca against my skin (unless I wear it with skirts, hmmmm). So now cabled mittens along the lines of Bella's Mittens are in my mind.

I'm also working on the BFL/Silk Shawl.  It looks like vomit. Still. Those colors, yeah they are true. I think this has taught me a very valuable lesson in buying dyed roving, I very much prefer sequences longer than the fiber's staple length.

The spinning is uneven, some parts are thicker and lovely soft, others are wire-y. Overall it feels lovely to the touch though and it is knitting up quick. I'm having a hard time spinning fast enough for the knitting.  

Because I'm knitting as I spin and I'm not 100% positive where the middle of the shawl will be my plan is this,
1 - at the end of this ball (about 20 feet) I will put the shawl on a stitch holder.
2 - I will cast on and knit the lace pattern for the opposite end of the shawl.
3 - at the top of the lace pattern, I will put it on a stitch holder and resume with the remaining yarn on the body.
4 - when I'm just about out of yarn, I will graft the two sides together.

Hopefully this will result in a couple of things with minimal thinking, 
1 - identical lace panels on either end
2 - a nearly invisible graft that should get lost in the lace to body transition
3 - minimal yarn waste and maximum size.

Some color folks might be gasping, "But the color sequence! You will muck it all up."  But the color on this thing is atrocious. And I still plan to over dye it a darker color so this is not a problem. I hope.

9.20.2011

Focus, spin, knit, now.

Three quarters of the way through my scarf I realized how little time I had left on this cruise.  How is it Sept 20th already?  I want to finish the BFL/Silk Shawl in order to have it dyed and completed in time for Christmas, which really needs to be done before I get on a ship again at the beginning of November.  So I got busy with a little spinning last night.

I am anxious now to get these done.  A little Ravelry forum browsing this week has set my sights on a new project.  A big project. A just for me project.  Seeing as all my Christmas stuff has to be done by the beginning of November, I figured I could bring along an ambitious personal project for my November/December months at sea.

There will be swatching. There will be color. There might be shaping.  There will definitely be pattern alteration.  Teamwork may be involved.  My brain has already left the projects I'm on and the yarn is in my online shopping cart for a more opportune purchasing time (like being home to receive it).  I'm doing math that is pointless until I have a swatch.

I have to finish what I'm on.

Focus, spin, knit.

9.19.2011

Two skeins of Cascade Yarns 128 Superwash, Chunky ended up in my supplies this trip. Without a project in mind I fondled it for a few days. It is so incredibly soft with a lovely bouncy loft and it just slides through my hands like water.

I cast on a scarf, but the stitch pattern took some deciding upon. I was browsing my new copy of Little Red in the City by Ysolda Teague and the leafy pattern around the neck of Lauriel, but really liked the hem with the leafs traveling up into the body. 

I quickly got distracted from that and decided I wanted something reversible and simple and started browsing Ravelry for ideas. Nothing popped out at me and I started trying to work something out on my own.  
 A very simple stitch pattern I worked out, though I'm sure I'm not the first. It is more or less a 1x1 ribbing with a seed stitch column between ribs. After 8 rows I alternate the purl columns and the knit columns. If you are interested in the pattern, you can check it out below. It's simple and easy to memorize.
It is resulting in a slightly puffy, non curling fabric that I plan to lightly block. This should make a great masculine scarf which is intended as another Christmas present. I usually plan to keep projects I cast on with no intentions or desires, but sometimes it just speaks to me and tells me who it wants to go to. This one knows exactly to whom it belongs already.

Stitch pattern:
Cast on a multiple of 4 sts +1 (I used 25 on size 10s)
Rows 1-8 K1 *P1 K3 rep from * to end.
Rows 9-16 *K3 P1 rep from * to last stitch K1

That's it. Easy peasy.

9.18.2011

Little Red in the City - Ysolda Teague

I followed the trials and tribulations of Ysolda Teague via her blog as she wrote Little Red in the City only to be slightly disappointed when it was released. The price point was huge. The patterns were not anything that really caught my eye as something I wanted to wear.  The knits and their pictures were beautiful, but they weren't garments I wanted.  So I passed.


I belong to a group on Ravelry dedicated to fitting problems, namely bust fitting problems.  We discuss finding bras, sizing and altering patterns and clothes for a better fit in both the larger and smaller busted crowd.  In answer to a forum posted question, someone recommended reading Little Red in the City and referring to it as a wealth of information about sizing, fitting and shape.

So I found it in person at Churchmouse Yarns on Bainbridge Island, WA.  Lo' and Behold! No lie.  Nearly half the hefty, hefty book is dedicated to getting the proper fit, placing darts, fitting yourself and gauge swatching.  Every pattern is discussed in painful, horrible, fantastic detail including pictures of both regular and plus sizes.  Short Acts of the Fates, there is absolutely no reason any knitter shouldn't end up with an absolutely stunning, well fit sweater.

My mind has been swayed, I probably want one of these sweaters and I'll be referencing this book heavily in the future. 

Dear Ysolda,
I am so, SO sorry I ever doubted you.
Sincerely, 
Your newest devotee,
Brandi

9.16.2011


I have just finished the greatest hat ever.

Double knit means twice as thick and extra warm.  It is going to be hard not to wear it myself in the computer lab, but as it is meant to be a christmas present I have decided it probably shouldn't be a used hat.

It is adult human sized, which is often a problem with my hats.  And I know this because it got a beta test this afternoon. No that doesn't mean I wore it, it means I tested it.

As it was being tested, my hair was slightly damp, and the hat generated a fair amount of heat on my head.  So received a light blocking as well.  Very light.

I got a few pictures while it was tested and blocked, which is referred to as modeling.

I tested it. And blocked it. And modeled it.  I didn't wear it.

 Now if you look too closely, which you won't, the gray yarn appears to be a little loftier than the maroon yarn, a little fuzzier.  The image suffers a little as a result.  Also, the difficulty of double knitting appears to have affected the consistency of my tension.  There are several mistakes of color, especially early on in the project.  In fact the frequency of color mistakes is null at the top and frequent on the bottom.
So it may not be the greatest hat ever, but it is warm, impressive to the untrained eye and being heavily oohed and aahed over as appropriate.  And I wish it were destined to be mine.

Alas, you cannot see it until Christmas.  Let the Secrets begin.

9.15.2011

The day before moving onto the ship, I pulled all my knitting needles together and pulled out the ones that I thought I would need for this trip.  I more or less brought one circular of each size I had (I have tons of size 10s!), then an assortment of complete dpn sets.  I have been knitting on this double knit hat for several days on size 5 bamboo cirques and it's starting to get a little fiddly so I thought I would change it up to size 5 dpns.  What kind of idiot was I? Packing size 5 circulars but not dpns? We all know this isn't catastrophic.  I'll be magic looping it from here on out, but I don't like it.


Also, I learned a few things working on this project.
1 - Colors of the same intensity are very difficult to see against one another.  I should have chosen higher contrasting yarns.  Because when you can't really make out the color pattern, you mostly see in consistencies in the tension.
2 - One large showpiece color work pattern is probably enough for a hat, to many different color work patterns look a little, "busy".
3 - Write the things you learn down before you forget. Because this list was longer than two items.

9.14.2011

 A little peak at the project that started it all at the Franklin Habit visit to the Seattle Knitters Guild.

My double knitting magic in action.  It did get a little easier, or at least more interesting when I got to the color work.
What is really impressive is how much work I managed to complete while I was knitting.  I know if anyone who saw me yesterday was asked what I did, they would say I knit, but damn if I didn't manage to churn out several work projects.  I spent much of the day waiting for computer processes to finish.

9.13.2011

I do not mind mistakes in my knitting. Usually I'll just gloss right over them.  If I have an extra stitch I'll find an inconspicuous place to work a k2tog.  In colorwork patterns, if it is more than a row back, I'll probably leave it and make it a "Where's Waldo" type of game for future recipients.  They don't bother me too much and I'm knitting for the joy of the knitting. Mostly.  I mean I do know that the finished object will be sweet, even with a few mistakes.  Besides, you want everyone to know you are wearing a hand knit anyway right? Not because they look the best, but because someone loved you enough to be concerned about your warmth.

This double knitting project I started is working really hard to test the limits of my relaxed attitude toward mistakes however.  I described to you the trials of casting on and I continued in a painstaking manner to knit an inch or so.  Then, no matter how hard I tried to pretend it wasn't true, I realized I had way too many stitches and it was coming out much too large.  So I ripped it all out and cast it on again with a size smaller needle and only 80 sts.  It looks a little more realistic-ly head sized  now.

I continue to have problems finding a happy place for my yarn in my hands.  I thought I would outsmart it by knitting one side at a time: one row front, one row back, repeat. However, while it was a little more comfortable, I don't think it went any faster.  And it would prove to be a problem when it comes time to work the color chart I chose.

There are several places where I made color mistakes already: expanses of maroon stockinette peppered with the grey from the backside, or horizontal grey stripes with three or four maroon stitches in a row.  I just hope, that in the end, the snowflake pattern I chose can still be picked out of the field of mistakes.

9.12.2011

I start every day around midnight.  And every day I have planned to take teaser photographs of my recently finished Malabrigo project, but I have to wait until the sun comes out and by then, I've found myself really busy at work. So for now you get no pictures.

I have nearly completed the last project (ends, weaving, blocking remain) and cast on a second. This time a double knit hat.  I don't know what possessed me to do that.  I have a vague recollection of it being pretty simple and just flying through the double knit starfish hat I designed before, but I must have been delusional. I do remember the ribbing being complicated, but I thought I would outsmart it this time by not doing ribbing(!).  This means I need to cast on 192 stitches in alternating colors.  Pain in the rear end.  I hate casting on more than 6 really.

So I outsmarted it by doing a long tail cast on of 96 with two strands.  Ha HA! but now I don't have alternating colors on my needles.  Sometimes the front color is the second one on the needle and sometimes it's the first.  This makes setting up a rhythm of knit front, purl back a little hard to establish.

On top of that, I can't seem to find a comfortable position for the yarn in my hands.  I think I'm too accustomed to stranded colorwork where when I'm using one color the other is tucking itself out of the way in the back.  In the double knitting scenario both colors need to be on the same side of the work.  I think I recall putting both colors in one hand but I'm having a hell of a time doing it comfortably, spaced far enough apart to easily pick the color I need and keeping consistent tension on both, actually either.

But if I can get past this first row it all becomes easier right? sure.

9.10.2011

Franklin Habit Works Wonders

When last we met I told you about how I had lost my knitting Mojo but had become enamored of spinning.

But then my summer got busy and all fiber arts fell to the wayside.  I'm not sorry in the slightest, I have been having a fantastic summer: parties, camping, Penny Arcade Expo and I even hosted a house concert.

Today I got underway again though and something had to come with me. I was debating projects. Should I bring spinning or knitting? Which am I more likely to do/enjoy?

Well this week, several things happened to aid in my decision.
Monday I wished a knitting buddy happy birthday and she asked if I was going to see Franklin Habit this week in Seattle.  I then found out that I had one more day than I thought before getting underway, closely followed with, where and when Franklin would be coming: five blocks from my house, before I left town and free at the Seattle Knitters Guild meeting.

I had no idea that the Seattle Knitters Guild met once a month so close to me.  I also was NOT going to miss seeing Franklin when the convenience of it was practically spoon fed to me.  I grabbed and wound a hank of Malabrigo (I'm honestly not even sure which Malabrigo I bought, must have been worsted, but it felt heavier in my hand) I found on sale at Churchmouse Yarns the weekend before when Knitters Delight came to visit and grabbed an appropriate sized circular needle to cast on a little project while I listened to Franklin.

The evening was fantastic on more than one level.  It is has been a long while since I was surrounded by knitters.  It felt so good. It is so easy to meet new people when you are a knitter.  I had been in the building all of 5 minutes before I was knitting on someone else's project.  I asked if she would mind if I filled out her row (we were sitting in pews) and she said absolutely not and handed me her work. We laughed because it was hilarious (I know some of you had to be told that).  I wasn't about to pass up the opportunity to fondle the Zephyr she was working with either.  I am going to be out of town for every single meeting the rest of the year, but I definitely want to join the SKG and start attending meetings.

I cast on my own project and the yarn felt great.  It was a super simple project, some ribbing to start, and I was able to eye other projects, listen to business and meet others without even pausing my knitting.

Franklin talked about Victorian knitting patterns.  Should you find this to be a dull topic, you are probably at the wrong site.  He was so funny.  He touched upon the crazy in all of us knitters that like to do things the hard way, the utterly crazy picture Victorian needlework pattern books paints of the age and how macrame apparently didn't spontaneously erupt from LSD, polyester and hot tubs in the 70s.  Franklin was a complete and utter delight to listen to and I was sitting on the edge of my chair for the entire event, fingers flying completely unnoticed in my lap.

In fact, by the time he had finished speaking, half my project was finished and my knitting mojo was completely recovered.  I finished the project yesterday, images will soon follow, but I can't reveal the entire project to you, I mean Christmas season is quickly falling upon us.  I've cast on another already.

Thank you so much Franklin Habit for fixing my knitting. Be my new best friend?
<3