Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Approaching shoulder seams ....

Pictures, you say? Sorry. My camera battery has given up the ghost, and new batteries are no closer than Thursday. Still, an update is in order.

The blue Noro hat has been frogged, reknit with a smaller circumference, and given to the recipient. The cable has been completed, kitchnered twice - once poorly, and once well - with contrasting red yarn, waiting for camera batteries and photos. But since it *is* my current take-along project, I also picked up the stitches around the length of the cable and have started on the stockinette portion of the hat. The dishcloths didn't get done on Friday, and I decided to consider the hat my Stash project.

I'm in the last 20 rows or so of the sweater body. The start of the neck steek is an inch ago, and I had to switch to smaller needles. The one issue I have now is ... to what extent do I want to make my patterns balanced on both sides of the neck? And across the back? If I decide to make things utterly perfectly totally balanced, I will need to go back several rows and regroup. I really don't want to do that.

Then again, that is easier than doing 20 rows and THEN deciding things do have to be perfectly balanced. Time to drag out my drafting tools and see what would be involved in balancing things. The problem is that they're being balanced on top of an asymmetrical design, and the places where I don't want the points to be with respect to the previous design is just the place where they would need to be if symmetry was my goal. Ah, decisions, decisions, decisions.

Several new books have come into my life lately. They are A Gathering of Lace, A Creative Guide to Knitting Lace, Country Knits, and coming to me soon via UPS, Two-End Knitting. My hands-down favorite of the first three is A Gathering of Lace. I can't decide what to make from it first. I also keep reminding myself of the tea cozy, the socks (and the two new skeins of sock yarn I got yesterday to do some two-color reticulated pattern sock experimentation with), and those dishcloths. It's a pretty good bet, though, that I will have a dainty shawl on my needles some time this year.

I'm listening to the Bible and 1776 on tape as I work on my knitting, and am just about finished reading Evita. After that comes Kirsten Lavransdatter. It's big, it's fat, it's three books in one, and I only have it for three weeks. I'll get it squeezed in somewhere. Same thing with my editing work. It's all getting done! A little bit each day makes the to-do list go away.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Multiplying projects

Here I sit, innocently working away on my Master Knitting project, teaching my children, learning about poetry right along with them, editing (on page 196 of 420!) and what does my knitting basket do? It acquires more projects!My camera batteries are getting weak, which results in fuzzy photos, but a fuzzy picture is better than no picture, so here goes! In the top of my basket (for photos only) is a little cable, the start of http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEwinter03/PATTcoronet.html . I've added it to my basket so that when the WTKnitters group gets started on the February Learn-along, learning provisional cast-on, cable, kitchner, picking up stitches along and edge, and how to work with dpns, I will have a clue as to what the pattern is all about.Next in the basket is a semi-finished object, a simple hat in k4 p4 ribbing using one skein of Noro Kureyon. Unfortunately, it's a bit loose and a bit short (owing to my desire to finish the hat and see if it was long enough, as opposed to knit the hat to specifications and run out of yarn. I will have the recipient try it on for size, and either get a new skein and rip to the decrease point (a whopping 9 rows) or else rip the whole thing and knit it with 8 less stitches, thus getting enough yarn for the extra length. It is loose, so this is a definite option.
And on the bottom of my photogenic basket is The Sweater. It's moving right along, and either today or tomorrow I need to carve out some serious Design Time in order to plot what will happen to it above the armholes, which are in just a few flecks away. I'm not sure it's possible, but it seems that I may finish the sweater before March.The piece of paper in my basket is a reminder that Friday is Stash Clean-up Day (according to the Knitter's Review 2006 Calendar) and that my daughter and I are going to knit dishcloths out of stash yarn to commemorate the event. The coronet yarn comes from my stash as well, which means that half of my projects on the needle come from stash yarns! Is anyone else destashing this week?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Knitting Olympics?

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee thought of having Knitting Olympics this year during the same time as the Winter Olympics. My first thought was, 'Oh, the Olympics are this year?' I'd love to participate, but I'm not going to for two reasons. First off, I don't have a clue what would be a reasonable challenge to start and finish within 16 days. And secondly, I am going to be working on a sweater during that time frame. If the time frame lines up, I might see if A Sleeve would be something I could do in those 16 days.

With the exception of editing 200 pages (I'm looking at page 43 right now), my goals are all met. I wrote all the letters I wanted to, finished a sock (two socks, actually), finished up a skein of black this afternoon, kept up with Bible Study, and called to make a doctor's appointment. The doctor doesn't have his schedule in the computer yet, so we don't have an appointment, but I did try. School is moving along nicely - we did couplets today - the house is presentable, laundry is done, and no one is starving. It's been a good week.

The socks are from the Winter 2005 IK, and I like them. I will probably make them again in a slightly heavier yarn (I got 175 m/50 grams Rowan Wool 4-ply instead of 175 yds/50 g Koigu) and smaller needles. They're just a bit too large for me.

And the sweater. I have finished the ribbing - all 2 1/2 inches of it - and moved into the colorwork. My fingers are happy, and it's going well. There was a slight hitch when I got my latest package from KnitPicks with my size 2 Addis in it. They're not standard US size 2! Ah well, at least I realized it before I started knitting with them and got an odd gauge. I'm using my trusty Boye Needlemaster set, and the stitches are sliding along nicely. I'm not too sure if I like the little bitty triangles under the zig zags, but I also didn't want long floats there ... so they'll do. After the snowflakes comes the lice pattern, and I should have at least a week of knitting that before I need to make up my mind about the chest patterning.

Along with yarn and needles, I also got Sensational Knitted Socks, and am wondering which sock I will make first. Probably something stranded, since it is winter here, and my toes are cold. Except stranded socks aren't as easily carried around, and by the time I get ready to start them, it will probably be a lot warmer. Gotta get that hat / tea cozy / dishcloth / cowl done first!

Back to proofing ...

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Hat done, new projects begun!

Tah-dah! The cable hat is finished, and I even kept coherent enough notes that I was able to reconstruct the pattern from them. It took a draft or two, but the pattern is written, and just needs a bit of i-dotting and t-crossing before I will put it in its page protector, ready for submission.

Since the hat is finished, and I've done sufficient swatching for my sweater, I of course had to begin another project to while away the time while my sweater yarn is in transit. I decided against washcloths, and am working on the Embossed Leaf Socks from Interweave Knits Winter 2005. I'm using Rowan 4-ply wool on size 3 needles (instead of Koigu on size 2) and I like them very much. I hope to finish sock #1 today, and get started with sock #2. It has the oddest tubular cast on I've ever seen. So odd that I wonder why it's called tubular.

Proofs of the next workbook arrived today, so I'll be beginning the proofing process after I finsh off the rest of today's to-do list. And as well as proofing, I will be constructing an answer key. I will have plenty of things to do in the next few weeks, giving me lots of practice in using my time wisely and well.

Goals for this week: Finish sock. Start sweater. Use up one ball of black yarn. Proof 200 pages of workbook. Keep up with Bible Study. Get caught up on writing letters to friends (a letter a day will do it!) and make a doctor appointment. (Oh, and homeschool, sleep, eat, clean house, and practice piano too. Lots of room for time management. And that doesn't count e-mail.)

Monday, January 09, 2006

The Joy of Knitting

The hat is moving along nicely. I thought today might see it finished, but my hands got a bit tired of wrestling with the 16" circulars, and I'm almost done - the next row starts my decreases, so I've about 12 rows to go, period - and since I really will need to order more yarn before really diving into the sweater ... well, I made a sweater swatch.

But before I did that, I made lots of small tables and colored many more small cells. Then I made copies of those tables, and pasted them all over the place. And moved them to better places. And changed them. Thank goodness for computers! Then, once I had a reasonable number of potential patterns to swatch, I had to decide how to swatch. Of course, I needed to swatch in the round. Why ever would I swatch with two colors otherwise? But maybe, just maybe, I could turn the swatch into two Norwegian socks? Why not? (Because sanity prevailed, that's why) So I cast on 60 stitches, did a rib for as little as I thought I could get away with, and started to Knit. With small yarns. And small needles (5" long 2 US, to be precise.) It was sheer bliss. Small yarns are good. Small needles are good. And the two together are what I was meant to knit, unless I need to have something done by yesterday. Then larger yarns on medium needles are warranted. But otherwise, I think I could cheerfully live with fingering yarn or smaller. The drape. The feel. The smell. Aaaaah.

Of course, one is supposed to *wash* a swatch before measuring it. Or at least get it off the needles. I couldn't resist, though, and a quick inaccurate check showed I'm right around my target gauge of 8 spi. The nice thing about designing a sweater is being able to work with whatever gauge I get, rather than 'get gauge. Or else.' I like how the tube looks, and ... it even fits as a sock! I stuck the stitches on a piece of scrap yarn (from the hat, where else?) and gave it a quick soak, press, and am letting it dry. Tomorrow I will measure it, and start calculating how many stitches my sweater needs where ... then comes plotting out which designs go where, and then comes the knitting! But perhaps not in that order. Once I figure out that the sweater needs, say, 352 stitches at the chest, I can easily cast on 316 for the rib and start knitting. For at least 2 hours, and then I'll run out of black yarn and have to order more. Sniff. Another yarn order. I'll have to be very careful about dyelots, though, because both the yarns that I used in the swatch were labelled 'Black.'

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Designing the Hat

Well, the Sample Hat is finished, or at least as finished as it is going to get. When I began it, I wasn't sure if it was going to be a sample or not. By the time three inches had past, it was officially declared a Sample, and that gave me all sorts of freedom to goof, experiment, make unorthodox fixes, etc. As you can see in the pictures, I ditched one of the motifs I was planning on using, and brought in another one halfway through the hat. Then came the experimenting with decreases, and experimental finish. The hat is going to get frogged completely once I get the Official Submittable Piece of Perfection knit. It's got some ugly spots.

This afternoon has been spent with InDesign's table function, drawing cables and the like in small boxes. I'd rather be knitting. I think now is the time to write the pattern, though, so that I can knit from the pattern (gasp) and make any corrections if I find something is wrong. Now that I've got the basic patterns down pat - an invented 7 stitch x 6 row twisted lattice pattern, and a 17 stitch x 30 row cable bobble moss stitch pattern, I think everything else should go smoothly. All I need to do is start writing, and redo the top of the cable graph to show decreases.

Sigh. The hat is snug on Abigail and myself, but I think that any normal human knitting it on size 4 and 6 needles will come up with something an inch or two larger around than I did, so that's okay. Plus, the hat can be for a child. And you know, I never really counted how many stitches I had to begin with anyways. I was supposed to have 120, but I'm not sure if I did. And since it was a sample, I decided not to stop and count. Must be my bad attitude towards processes showing.

Due to car troubles (not ours) my afternoon of delightfully designing a Norwegian sweater evaporated. But in about 30 minutes, we're going to head over to the troubled car's home complete with yarn bins and books, and I'll have an evening of delightful sweater planning.

Then comes writing the directions. I would much rather calculate and knit than write directions. While I was looking for a Dale of Norway leaflet (unsuccessfully, it must be at my mom's house ... I was there when I finished the project, and we hadn't closed on our house yet), I found an old piece of paper in a 1986 Threads magazine. It has a very rough drawing of a sweater, with jottings indicating that the sleeve length is 18", the cuff circumference 9 1/2, armhole opening 9" high, 12 1/2" from armhole to hem, 40" around, 6" wide neck opening, with a dip of 2 3/4" in the front. It says also that 7 st x 8 st = 1", 300 for body, 264 for ribbing - tan + b grn gry b grn gry) 30 st ptrn, 180 rows 12 repeats, 100 rows to armpits, 30- subtr. blank column divider. 32x15 wide, p. 103 #2 and p. 103 #5. And from that, the sweater was knit. If I am interpreting the colors correctly, it's one that I gave to Luke Gilbert when he was in 5th grade in Tbilisi, and I have no pictures of it. I still have some of the b, but the grn got all used up in a pair of mittens, along with the gry. And I could reknit it today from those directions. Why would anyone want more? Shouldn't it be obvious that the page references go to The Complete Book of Traditional Fair Isle Knitting? (and that the sweater was Fair Isle?) And that the colors are blue, green, gray, and tan, from Harrisville Design's Shetland yarns, colors available in 1992? Probably not. But that is the sort of jotting I will do before my Norwegian sweater, and then it will get turned into an official sounding pattern.

Back to writing an official hat pattern.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Real vs. Fake knitting

I think I must be a product knitter rather than a process knitter. I dutifully worked on designing my Aran hat today, working cable swatches to determine all sorts of things about them, and felt the urge to do some Real Knitting. I wanted to go get some sock yarn and tiny needles, and start knitting something real. Swatches are well and good, but they are not Real Knitting. They don't end up as something other than a swatch. Especially if one is working on worsted acrylic yarn (to use up stash yarns) and getting 5 stitches per inch ... it has more of a claw than a hand. My daughter said "Ewwww. This feels waxy." But thank goodness, I am finished swatching. (I pray that I have swatched well enough and thought well enough that I won't go back to swatching in a day or two.) I abandoned the wrap-around-the-head cable (6 inches was a bit wide for a panel) and am doing a normal brim to top construction. And I've got the first 7 inches or so of the hat firmly planned out. At that point, I will do some more thinking about decreases. I got started with my Real Knitting (and not on socks, either) and am ribbing my way through my cast-on row. Twisted rib, which I keep forgetting and having to go back and fix those knit stitches.

My daughter, bless her large pointed needles (she's 15 1/2 inches into that mock turtleneck, working on size 15 needles with Super Chunky Woolease), found a source for the one question in my MK work that I could not. Nor could our local yarn store. We *knew* the answer, but finding a source in print was another matter. Fortunately, Teen Knitter's Club had the answer, and my daughter was reading the book while she was knitting. (Like mother, like daughter.) We're both happy campers.

No new pictures for my blog today, but if you'd like to see the Christmas stocking my mom made for a very special grandson of hers, you can go to my Yahoo Photos and take a peek in the January folder.

I am so glad to be finally knitting something real. So happy, in fact, that I'm going to head right back to it.

Note to Denise: January 27th is Stash Clean-up Day. Make plans now! Our plan is to make a pair of slippers from my stash. Dd will knit one, I'll knit the other.

Monday, January 02, 2006

It's the eighth day of Christmas

and I didn't take a single picture of my knitting to put on the blog. Today was a good day to do other things ... tax preparation, finding my desk, laundry, bake bread, clean bathrooms ... those things which don't really fit well into periods of intense knitting. I do, however, have some pictures of my daughter's knitting (except for the hat and striped sock, which do happen to have come off of my needles, but they're not the point of the picture.)

First, Julia models her fashion cardigan, knit in a lime green sportweight with a dark green collar. This was my daughter's first shaped garment, and we're quite pleased with how it turned out. Especially since it was designed for a 19" doll, and Julia is an 18" doll. The hat she is wearing is a modified pillbox design that I came up with today. After I finish this entry, I'm off to try another design.

Here, you see my daughter's first slipper. She started it on New Year's Eve, and finished it this morning. The mate for it was finished shortly before supper. Obviously, she did not particpate in my non-knitting day. She starts back up with schoolwork shortly, and while I can knit while she does worksheets, she can't (although she'd love to try), so I let her devote the day to her yarns.

That's about it. I am going to be diddling with hat designs for the next few days as I attempt to come up with something that will fit an adult head, be an appropriate showcase for a wide cable wrapping around the head, and have sufficient room left for bobbles and two other stitch patterns. I'd rather be knitting socks but those will come soon enough if I'm good and pretend to be a designer for a while. If I can't come up with a suitable hat 'framework' I can always do a standard brim to top cap. Or - horrors - maybe I'll end up making an Aran sweater instead, and I can design a Fair Isle tammy! Not that Aran sweaters are bad things, but I'd rather knit stranded than cable, and sweaters tend to be significantly larger than hats. Should have written down the directions for the Aran I invented in Tbilisi, then I'd be a step ahead of the game. It would need reknitting is something other than Soviet-era wool-cotton-bramble mix, however.

Tomorrow we're off to town to go hunting for some Super Bulky Chenille for my daughter's next project, a mock turtleneck.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Knitting Small Diameter Openings Mutterings

As a rule, I don't have long double pointed needles or short circumference circular needles. So when I began knitting the neck ribbing for the vest, I was faced with a problem. Do I work on my 4 7" dpns and drop stitches every time I look away from my knitting? Or do I use the shortest cable in my Boye Needlemaster Set (which has served me faithfully and well since 1985) and end up with a size 4 US (3.5 mm) hole in my right index finger? My finger took a month or two to heal from working the Rocky Vest back in April with those same needles. I grimaced, and decided to carefully work the 9 rows of ribbing and do a nifty sewn bindoff, eliminating the need to suffer through 9 more rows of enlarging the hole in my finger.

The sewn bind-off, however, did not cooperate, and provided its own frustrations. Once I graciously gave in to defeat on the matter of bind-off and settled in to knitting nine more rows of Small Diameter Opening, decided to try the Magic Loop method, which I've heard about only by name, on my Addi Turbos. Which, by the way, I got for 8.95 from my LYS back in 1994. Wouldn't it be nice if you could get Addi Turbos for that price now? But back to my story. I worked a row or two with the Magic Loop method, or at least what I came up with, and my index finger liked it, but it was slow. So I tried using 2 circulars, with one Addi and one Boye. That worked pretty well, especially after I switched to my longest Boye cable. It was still annoying, though. I'm not sure, though, if I want to give in a buy a mess of 16" needles in my usual sizes.

Last night found me knitting some Very Small Diameter Openings, of the sort I wouldn't even think about trying to fit on a 16" needle. Glove fingers! I didn't want to use my metal dpns, since there'd only be 3-4 sts on a needle and that would be a recipe for losing dpsn. And I wasn't about to drive 20+ miles on New Year's Eve to a closed LYS to get some birch needles. I decided to try double knitting. Of course, I decide to try this at someone else's house, far from my handy dandy knitting books and internet access. One of the things about being a fearless knitter, though, is trying to do things (like magic loop and 2 circs) that you only know of by name, and maybe a two sentence description. Double knitting worked out wonderfully for the mitten fingers. So much so that I even tried it for the thumb of the next mitten today, as I've misplaced the 4th dpn. I hope to find it in the car, but if not ... oh dear, that means I'll have to get a set of Brittany Birch to replace it. Rats.

I hope to finish the second mitten tonight - just the fingers and ends are left - and tomorrow, maybe attempt to find my house. My desk is due for a good decluttering, which is always fun. I like cleaning off my surroundings of accumulated clutter before I start a new project. And I've got two of them! The first is the cable hat (and sweater) and the second is the start of the new school year.

My daughter has been knitting up a small storm over the holidays. Yesterday she finished a cardigan for her 18" doll, and started up on some slippers. I'll have to get some pictures taken of the cardigan! Her next project, after slippers, is the mock turtleneck from Teen Knitting Club. Chenille! At her age, I had no idea chenille yarns existed.