Friday, December 30, 2005

'Tis the Fifth Day of Christmas

and as some observant people have noticed, I did not blog on the fourth day. That was because a certain vest was proving recalcitrant and I spent 2 hours trying to realize my plan for a neck bind off. A good chunk of that was spent unpicking my first few tries. By the end of the evening, I was not speaking to the vest (but I was muttering about it a good deal) and so I decided not to reward the cantankerous thing with a picture in my blog. One of the good things about yesterday - and there were quite a few, actually, just nothing pertaining to finishing the vest's neck edging - was that I started my next project, a pair of mittens.

Yesterday I finished the patterned knitting of the vest, sewed the steeks, sliced the steeks open with blantant disregard for the integrity of my yarn, learned that to havea perfect 'meet' at the seam, I'll need to work half a pattern row before doing a 3-needle bind-off, and worked on the neck until I got sick of it.

Today, I conquered the neck, began and finished the nicely cooperative armholes. I'm going to save the Weaving of the Ends (not too many) for tomorrow. And who knows how far I'll get on the mittens! (First, *I* have to figure out which Fair Isle pattern I'm going to use on the cuff. So many choices, so few mittens...)

Despite the fact that all I've been talking about lately is knitting, I do have some children. They are very good about me being occupied during school vacation, and rarely remind me that they're bored and have nothing to do. It's counterproductive to be bored when one's room could use a good cleaning. And if there's fresh snow outside, well, then ... make snow forts while the weather is cold!

I have an important knitting lesson for those of you who knit. I'm sure you've heard it said many times (or at least read it) that you should always check your dyelots, and buy enough of a single dyelot to finish your project. But have you ever noticed a difference in dyelots? Excluding hand dyed yarns, of course? I never have. I've run into problems when I try to order more yarn 10 years after getting the first bit of yarn in a freebie bag from someone emptying their closet, and finding the company is closing out that style and only has two colors left, but actual dyelots problems? No. Not me. Not until ....

Look carefully. You will see that these two balls of Palette yarn are black. One is dyelot 3753, and the other is dyelot 4320. Can you see the difference between the dyelots? I thought so. I will be *very* careful, especially when using the ball on the left, to get the same dyelot if I need more of that shade of black.

Other knitting musings. The neck on my newly finished vest looks awfully small. I was all prepared to be smug about following EZ's directions to a T (so far as her directions are that precise), and not trying to follow the 45 degree angle of the pattern lines, which would give a short choppy neck ... but what did I end up with? A short, choppy neck. It fits very nicely over my husband's head, so I'm not concerned with it not fitting. But ... it just looks tiny. The next time I make a vest in this gauge, I think I'll start the neck shaping about 10 rows before finishing the sleeve shaping (sorry, Elizabeth). There's also the matter of picking up stitches along the edge. Typically, you pick up 4 stitches for every 3 rows, because standard gauge is like that ... 6 stitches = 8 rows = 1". My gauge was more like 6.3 sts = 6.3 rows = 1". So I picked up one for one, and my, is that ribbing around the neck a bit stretched. Not terribly so, but I'm going to let the vest stew for a few days and maybe (after the mittens are done) I'll take out the neck ribbing, pick up more stitches, and re-knit the thing. Without trying to do a sewn cast-off.

And thus closes the Year of the Vest. I realized, as I was sewing the last bit of ribbing down, that I've made four vests this year. One in April for my Master Knitting project, then two in the fall for a friend, and now this one. I've also made a goodly number of socks this year - maybe over 20 pairs? (including two argyles which don't match .. one for Master Knitting, and one for my husband. The match to that one will come some time after I get him to try on the first and find out what adjustments are necessary to make it fit.)

Don't expect any more Days of Christmas posts. I've gotten you up to date on all my Christmas yarn goodies, the Vest Blitz is done, and mittens await. Since this entry is already rather long, I'll save my Knitting Small Diameter Openings Mutterings for another post, next year.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

And the third day of Christmas

Isn't that a lovely box of yarn? It's KnitPicks Palette, a fingering weight yarn perfect for knitting Norwegian or Fair Isle sweaters. My mom picks such good presents for me.

Today I got another box in the mail, also from KnitPicks. One of these days I should confuse the post office and get yarn from somewhere else. The new box has yarn for mittens, plus some lovely sock yarns and a calendar with pictures of ... what else ... yarn. I am a happy camper.
As you can see, the vest is moving along nicely. The green thread mid-picture is the bottom of the neck. I've about 6 more rows to go to finish the 'v' and then I just get to knit until 27 inches. It doesn't seem like I've knit much today, but I suppose I must have since I'm almost done with a skein of gray. I just might finish up the patterning part tomorrow. But not if I don't get to knitting, and stop blogging. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

On the Second Day of Christmas

I didn't get anything new today ... no turtledoves especially, which would have driven our dog batty. But if you'll remember the smaller box from yesterday? Here are the contents. Aren't they lovely? One skein of every sort of Merino Style that KnitPicks makes. I love how soft it is. It's a pleasure to work with.

How much of a pleasure, you ask? Perhaps this vest picture will give you an idea how much time I've been spending letting the merino run through my fingers. The little snippet of yarn you see is what will become an armhole. I've got about 18 more rows to go, and then I get to start the V-neck. It is tricky juggling the pattern and the decreases, but I've not gotten out a pencil to draw them in on my chart yet. Partly because I didn't have a pencil handy, and partly because I've almost stuck the chart away, and I don't really want to bring it back out.

Here is a picture of the Selbu Mitten from Folk Mittens in progress. It's finished now, and is nice and toasty warm. I didn't have enough tan to make a second one but have a fraternal twin in blue and white. One day I may make a match for either of them, but perhaps not. The wind doesn't care that my mittens don't match ... it just stays out!

Goals for this week: Keep knitting that vest! I may get it finished this year, but don't need to. And since I do have some mitten yarn coming, I may divert my energies from the vest for a while. But then again, it will be easier to work on the mittens full-steam if the vest is finished. So maybe I won't. Perhaps KP will make it easy for me and the yarn won't get here until the vest is finished.

Monday, December 26, 2005

On the First Day of Christmas

my mother gave to me, LOTS of yarn and knitting goodies. Boxes that you just *know* came from KnitPicks are just so much fun. And my life is being full of fun.

First, the boxes. Here are the ones that were wrapped and in the crib. A new tradition, you ask? Like having a baby in a manger? No. It's a practical solution to what to do with presents when they are in the same house as a dog who likes rearranging all carryable objects. What was in the boxes? Stay tuned!

Then, t
he yarn my friend brought over for a vest. I used a K1 P1 alternating invisible cast on (depending on which book you read) and my first attempt was miserable. I didn't use needles 2 sizes smaller for the ribbing, and I didn't trust Elizabeth Zimmerman when she said to use 90% of the Key Number (which is 288.) I ended up with a floppy rib, distorted at the lower edge, that was looking to be 42" around. Ick. Frog. Change needles, trust Elizabeth, and start over. It's moving along quite nicely now, and I think it may be finished in 2 weeks or so. I wasn't sure how I was going to handle the steeks ... to steek, or to work back and forth. Fortunately, my mom solved that problem by getting me Knitting Workshop by Elizabeth Zimmerman, and there just happens to be a V-neck Fair Isle vest with sketchy enough directions to give me the clues I needed.

Now, my before-Christmas knitting. I did, I did, I did manage to finish up my swatches and written work (unless you count footnotes ... those are yet to be sprinkled throughout my paperwork as the spirit moves me.) My swatches are all tagged-n-bagged, sorted neatly by swatch number, and awaiting their Final Placement into the Fat Notebook. Working with a Skinny Notebook is much easier (besides, the swatches can't fall out if they're not in there), so I'm going to keep the swatches in their own baggie until I'm ready to send everything in for evaluation.

Lastly and leastly, at least for today, is a picture of a Barbie shawl. Knitters will, in desperation, invent strange things when they're away from a new ball of yarn, have just finished making a pair of socks, and are at a Christmas Program rehearsal in which they play only a minor part. I invented something akin to 'cast on 12, work in k1p1 rib for a few rows, then switch to stockinette stitch and at opposite sides of the shawl work a yo k1 yo every other row, and bind off when it looks like the yarn is about to run out. The embroidery scissors are in the picture for comparison.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas, all!

It truly is a Merry Christmas here. I've made a double batch of Chai and have 6 jelly jars ready to go out as gifts, accompanied by fresh homemade biscotti. The stollen is rising in the window, ready to be shaped into loaves. I've gotten all my directions for swatches written, charted, graphed, and annotated. All my book and magazine reviews are written. All the questions are answered. One teensy, tiny, one page report remains to be written after lunch. One charming little lace swatch awaits reknitting. And then .... I shall take a breather and cogitate on design elements of sweaters and hats, while doing some other knitting.

Yes, other knitting! I'd have pictures, but my printer still isn't agreeing with my photo chip. I finished the brown/tan Selbu mitten, and am waiting for some mitten yarn to arrive from KnitPicks, courtesy of a friend. Yesterday, more yarn arrived from a friend (beware friends bringing yarn?) and that is going to be knit into a vest ... today should see a gauge swatch at least started on that project. I also have yarn to finish off a scarf cowl in Grandma, and bought some MORE yarn on Tuesday (as well as complete sets of sz 2 and 3 Brittany Birch needles ... yumm) to make the socks from Winter 2005 Interweave Knits.

It's a delightful thing to sit at a desk surrounded by knitting books, a sleeping dog, rising bread, and a pile or two of completely tagged swatches. And don't forget the Ghiradelli chocolate sitting just out of arm's reach! (I won't mention the fudge that set in 2 seconds flat yesterday, as I was tilting the cooking pot to pour it out.)

May you know the joy of the wise men when they saw the star, and join them in worshipping the One whom it signified!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Getting organized ...

The paper-generation portion of my MK work is moving along nicely. I really, truly, intend to get it all done this week. This week I've done two magazine reviews and two book reviews. One fiber report and one blocking report remain to be written. After that, I'll be down to writing directions for a swatch, coming up with a chart for another swatch, and a few odd questions. This is starting to look doable!

The socks are done, and I'd have pictures of them as well as the Barbie-sized poncho that I made out of the leftovers, but my printer has decided that I am inserting my picture chip backwards. I know I'm not ... but may have scratched the chip somehow trying to get it in. I hope not! The camera still likes it. I was beginning to wonder what I'd work on for my travelling knitting project, but what did I find in my e-mail box but a project waiting for me to happen! God provides. This project will be triply fun because it a) is to help a friend, b) will help me better guide another friend through the same project, and c) comes at a time of 'what shall I knit?'

The sewing is also done, or at least as done as it can get without an inch or two of velcro.

It's been a happy day...

Friday, December 16, 2005

9 days to Christmas...

Yes, nine days left and I have almost all my gifts made. I need to spend an hour or two with my sewing machine and cutting table, and then all the gifts I had planned on making as of December 1st will be done. And if I spend this weekend with my knitting needles, then the gift I hadn't planned on making will be done as well.

The sock is Knitpicks Gumballs with a fuzzy yarn from Hobby Lobby. The fuzzy yarn sure is fuzzy, isn't it? I decided to work some ribbing in the sock yarn, and then do a fold-over cuff. They're being quite fun to make. (Photo by ds)

Progress is being made on the MK swatches, but unfortunately I forgot I'd used my circular needles to make a project in between swatches, and I worked 3 swatches on size 10.5 instead of 8. I'm going to re-do one of them (the Mosaic swatch) but hope another one will be okay as is. The doily pictured here is another swatch. I ended up making two of them. The first one was so lovely ... right up until 5 stitches from the end on the last round. Then I discovered a mistake. Since the pattern was so delightful to knit, I decided to finish the first one off and knit a second one. The picture here is actually of my first attempt ... there are two errors in it, but sharp are the eyes that will find them. Mosaic knitting, at least on the wrong size needles, looks a whole lot better in pictures than it does live. I hope it will improve with different needles, but I have my doubts.

I borrowed Principles of Knitting from the library this week, and have alternately been amused by or or enjoyed it. The author does have some strong opinions, mostly that the way I knit is not the way one ought to. She also doesn't care for a tubular cast-on. That is one thing I have definitely learned from the MK program and will carry over into other knitting ... tubular cast ons! I made a pair of mittens (pictured) while waiting for my KP order, and used that cast-on. Then I read about how awful it was, and decided to knit another pair of mittens using the cast-on the book preferred. I'll give each pair of mittens a few months of Minnesota winter, and check to see which one survived better. Two out of two people that I've taught both to found the tubular cast-on easier to learn.

I hope to get most, if not all, of my MK paperwork done before Christmas - barring the hat and sweater design stuff. I have two swatches left to knit, one or two to re-knit, and a caboodle of paper to generate.

I am pleased to announce that I have solved the Norwegian Thumb Gore Mystery, with help from KnitU and the Internet. The pattern has a TYPO which is not mentioned in the errata for the book. Once I searched on 'Selbu' instead of the gore, I found it, and my confusion vanished like the snow outside my window will next May. (Slowly, and with some reluctance)
I'm not thinking about school any more. Standardized testing is finished, the booklets have been sent back to Hewitt, and dh is drywalling in the school room. It's a bad time to be thinking about cleaning.

Merry Christmas, all!

Friday, December 09, 2005

It's winter

And winter is a grand time of year to sit back, sip cocoa, and knit.

The first semester of school is drawing to a close. We've made good progress. I can't say that we've enjoyed Tapestry of Grace, since it fell by the wayside in our second week. Nor can I say that my students delight in studying all their spare moments, for they don't. One scholar would rather build unique buildings, and the other would rather doodle, knit, read, or all three simultaneously. Still, we worked through the first half of the Homer workbook, are on track to finish our Singapore text (and series) before spring, and are moving along in Latin.

I love new beginnings. Already I'm thinking about tossing out all the work from the first semester and having clean and tidy notebooks for January. I'll have to do that with my own books ... 'sides, it wouldn't last but a week with my children's. Before we get to those new beginnings, we need to do our mandated yearly testing. That will be next week sandwiched in among baking, crafting, and yes, building unique buildings.

I haven't knit any new swatches for my Master's program since last week, but I have gotten a good bit of writing done. I even had a friend test my pattern for Bavarian Twisted Stitch. She persevered through the twisted purls, and announced that my pattern is fine. I don't know that she'll ever work the stitch back-and-forth again, though. I did finish up two pieces of footwear, decide to save one for after Christmas (since I have my doubts the first will fit ... I'll just have one to re-do that way), and the yarn for the other two socks is on order. I forgot I've got two children to make pajamas for ... but I've got fabric for one of them, and it got pre-washed yesterday!

My Quest of the Month is to figure out How to do a Norwegian Gore. It's explained in Folk Socks, but it has never made sense to me. There are just Plumb Too Many Stitches in the finger portion of the mitt after working the thumb opening. Even the charts agree. If you've got a chart for mittens that's 60 stitches wide, and you add in 10 stitches for a thumb gore, and keep them, you've got 10 stitches more on the needles than you have on the chart. Pffft. I suppose it could be a typo ... but there's a similarly wrought gore in the Fall '93 Knitter's magazine, and two identical typos stretches my credulity.

I love Christmas baking. Today we made Swedish Rusks (aka Italian Biscotti), and one of these days will be just right for a batch of Stollen. And then sugar cookies, and then spritz, and then ... oh, too many good things.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

The Joy of Swatching

Diogenes is edited. The poncho is ready to be mailed. The garden is under a few inches of snow. Laundry is done. It's a Saturday. It must be time for knitting swatches!

I've done a 'how in the world does this work?' swatch of Entrelac. It's an interesting technique. I may make a pair of socks in it someday, but unless I figure out a friendlier way to pick up stitches from left to right along a selvedge, I probably won't do much with it. I did, however, manage to do this entire swatch without purling anywhere except for the ribbing. Knitting back backwards, anyone? I'm not looking forward to writing down the step-by-step directions for how to do this, however.

One of my swatches has acquired the name of "UgliStitch." It's actually an elongated stitch, but I am not fond of doing those. I'd much rather do fine lace or Fair Isle than elongated stitch stuff. Abigail *would* love how the UgliSwatch looked, so I will no doubt be talking her through the process one of these days.

I'm going to upload some other photos of swatches into my Yahoo Pictures page. And then ... off to knit! Christmas is a comin', and I've got 5 1/2 pieces of footwear to finish before then. Let's see ... two will take a day each, two more will take about 3 days, so I've got 17 days to make 1 1/2 items ... it'll work.