Tuesday, March 28, 2006

George Mason did what?

My knitting basket is rather disorganized these days. I was working on an argyle sock, but need another skein to finish it, so it got bumped down the priority list. That accounts for the wine, navy, and tan yarns in the basket. Then there's the Moebius cowl, which was begun as a take-along project. It got bumped this past week by some angora headbands. Those - except for grafting - are the quintessential take-along project. Knit fourteen. Turn. Repeat for 18 inches. The chart in the background is for The Shawl.

Which, I am pleased to notel is growing nicely. I just started the 5th ball tonight, and am barely into the 4th repeat of
chart 2. That adds up to being 35% done with the main body of the shawl. After that comes 24 feet of edging. I'm not going to think about that part, however. My fingers and palms have a distinct purple cast to them. Fortunately, I like purple, and don't mind having hands that look like they're severely bruised.

My daughter has been knitting a good bit lately. She's knit a shirt for a Ken* Barbie, and discovered how important it is to allow for ease in the shoulder area. The neckline goes up and down with Ken's arms. She's also finished Jackie's wedding gown, discovered that a slip is very necessary with some knit garments (especially when Mattel doesn't choose a neutral color for the painted-on outfit), and is now working on a veil. With Jaggerspun 2/8 wool. On my 000 needles. Addi needles. When I was her age, I had no idea that Addi existed. or that there was anything to knit with beyond Red Heart. (* not his real name)

My daughter has also broken 4 of my Brittany sock needles. I took Rosemary's advice and got a package of bamboo skewers, and borrowed some sandpaper from my mom. The skewers at Wal-Mart looked to be a size 5 or 6, but the ones at the grocery store I use looked sock-ish, and fit just perfectly into the 2.75 mm spot on my needle gauge. I gave my daughter the skewers, so she now has 80 sock needles to break, and I kept the *7* needles Brittany sent me as replacements. Let's see ... I started off with 10, lost one all by myself with no help, then four got broken, and I was given 7 to replace them. That makes for 12 sockie needlies, which means I could have a travelling sock pattern and a tricky sock pattern!

This week is not looking fortuitous for knitting. I shall, however, forge ahead, and report back in next week. Goals? Be finished with the current pair of books I am editing, write one letter, keep up with Bible Study,and finish 2 balls of purple yarn and 3 angora headbands.

(Today's title is in honor of my son, who is looking forward towards being old enough to have his own blog, in which he will wax eloquent about the state of sports in this nation.)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

More yarn!

Blogger is not cooperating for pictures today, so no pictures.

That's not entirely bad. You can use your imagination to come up with how far one ball of purple yarn will go on a rectangular shawl. (Answer: Row 64) My unphotographed Brioche Stitch scarf will remain incognito. You'll have to knit one of your own to find out what an argyle sock designed to fit an 18" calf looks like. No, not for the kind of calf that says Moo. It's the kind attatched to a man's foot. And you'll have to use your imagination to picture the Moebius I was practically forced to cast on as a take-along project because I was running out of yarn for argyle sock 2 (and argyles are not take-along projects in any case) and I had no other viable project on needles. I'm using KnitPicks Shadow in Campfire, and it looks quite nice.

The socks which grew in the handwashing behaved appropriately when machine laundered, and reverted to their scheduled size.

My stash is actually shrinking at a steady pace, despite the fact that I haven't started my tea cozy which is lurking in it somewhere. The Campfire came from my stash, as did the Brioche Scarf. I also sent off 13 partial balls of sock yarn today to Major Knitter , who will be using them to make Knit Notes, the initial proceeds from which will go to charity.

To be honest, though, my stash also grew. I have 10 more balls of Purple Palette (so I'm going to work on your shawl tonight, Rebecca!) and an additional 10 balls of Shine in Orchid. That will become the Fluted Ribs capelet from WrapStyle, sometime, somewhen.

My daylight hours are filled with homeschool, household management, and editing. I cleaned up my desk yesterday (inspired by the YarnHarlot's new desk with a cubby for yarn!), cleared off the foot-high stack of Classical Writing books so that I could find the two books I am currently editing (and will hopefully finish before the next two books are ready for editing), and am generally not bored.

So unbored, in fact, that I think I'll go knit.
I still haven't started a tea cozy.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Purple Frost!

Sitting in a chair next to a sickbed is an excellent way to get lots of knitting done. That's exactly where I spent Saturday, which enabled me to finish up the Faux Russian Stole on Sunday - also spent at home with Sick Child, who was sick enough to stay home, but not too sick to pass a pleasant day as the Ruling Couch Potato, complete with books, knitting, stuffed animals, and live dog.

The shawl got washed in preparation for blocking...

then photographed...

and will shortly be shipped to an undisclosed location in Pella, Iowa.

Once I finished the shawl, I set to work on some socks with a vengeance. I am truly a 'one project at a time' knitter (not counting travelling vs. home projects. One simply MUST have knitting appropriate to the occasion at all times). The socks got finished, and even prewashed. They ended up being HUGE after handwashing. I'm going to toss them in the washer and dryer, see if that helps, and amputate the toes if not.

Finishing the socks left me with an as-yet unphotographed Brioche Stitch Scarf. My thoughts turned to dainty lace bread cloths for communion, and I was actually in the very middle of charting out a row-by-row pattern from the DMC Encyclopaedia of Needlework when my e-mail beeped at me. It was from the future recipient of my Frost Flowers and Leaves shawl. We've been talking yarns for over a week, and although we started out with a definite Iris Alpaca Cloud, that drifted over into a royal purple, settled on a laceweight Cashmere until I realized that this particular laceweight wasn't 3600 yds/lb, but 7000 yds/lb, drifted back to something thicker than a spiderweb, and landed - with that e-mail - on Purple Palette. Which I just happen to have in my stash.

Next came the needle decision. The pattern called for size 6, but
that's with laceweight yarn. And I knit tight. But I don't like lace that is so holey in stockinette that one can't see the intended holes. I considered using size 7s, and might have, but for the fact that I have a) a set of four, and b) metal dpns. One thing I know about lace is that one does NOT want to begin by working a square shawl with a cast on of 8 with slippery, heavy needles in a triangle formation. I do have size 8s, 5 of them, in plastic (ick.) So size 8 it was -- and I still had my Boye Needlemaster size 8s handy from finishing off the Russian Stole.

Without further ado, I used my handy dandy copier to make a working copy of the pattern, popped it into a page protector, slapped on the magnetic strip to keep my place, flipped to the back of the book which showed 'Circular Cast-ons' and began.

Bliss. Sheer bliss.

According to the spreadsheet from the Knitalong, I'm closing in on 2% of the shawl done. Hooray!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Another week, another project

Note to self: If one wants to complete 200 rows in a week, it is helpful to record how many rows have been previously done.

The Faux Russian Stole is growing apace. I am on the 5th repition (our of 5 1/2). That makes roughly 400 rows since February 28th, so I think I met my goal of doing 200 rows this past week. I'm not sure though. There were days when I felt like I went backwards more than forwards, but as the net result has been forward progress, I must be feeling wrong.

My daughter postponed Friday until tomorrow (you can do that when your temperature has three digits before the decimal point), allowing her to spend today lazying on the couch. She's not being entirely lazy, though Look what came off her needles today!

My latest pair of socks is growing nicely, but they didn't start growing soon enough to prevent my casting on a new project, a Brioche Stitch Scarf in a yarn that is acquiring a reputation for flexibility. So far, it's been a sample cable hat for my MK coursework, and a trial piece for unventing increases and decreases in Brioche knit. The scarf is about 18" long at this point, and the toe-up sock is 2-3" above the ankle.

For those of you waiting to hear how my MK submission was received, stop waiting; it's going to be a while. I did call the Guild today to make sure my submission got there, since I've not gotten a postcard informing me of that fact. I am pleased to report (and relieved to learn) that my box arrived on the 23rd of February, and shipped out on the 24th to An Examiner.

I didn't get the yarn ordered for the Frost Flowers and Leaves shawl yet, mostly because the recipient and I are still tossing around yarn ideas. The color will be Iris ... but Iris Alpaca Cloud, or Iris Zephyr, or an iris-color in Cashmere, or Iris something else?

Homeschooling did manage to continue. I've even joined in. We received our Calculadders Masterpacks this past week, and I've joined my son in working through Book 2. I started off miserably with Two Wrong Answers, but have since picked my jaw up off the floor and am using the correct brain circuits to answer the questions. I don't know that I've read anything but knitting books and curriculum lately. Chesterton hasn't gone much of anywhere yet, and I need to get listening to Adler (Aristotle for Everyone) before the cassettes have to go back.

Our living room/school room is changing color from White Drywall Mud to Late Tomato. The improvement is immense, and the chaos is staying manageable. I knit while my husband paints. What could be more romantic?

Friday, March 03, 2006

Penny's Bag, or the Slip Stitch Swatch

Well, it's not really Penny's bag yet, since she hasn't made it. But it was her question about it that got both Rosemary and I swatching, trying to determine how a particular zig zag was made.

Here, without further ado, are the patterns. For technical niceties, please notice the imaginary asterisk immediately after the colon in each Row, and do not disregard the invisible 'Repeat from * to end of row' immediately following the . MC = main color, CC = not main color.
  1. Row 1: (MC) K1 sl 1. Row 2: (CC) K. Row 3: (MC) Sl 1 K1.
  2. Row 1: (MC) K1 sl 1. Row 2: (CC) K. Row 3: (MC) K1 sl 1.
  3. Row 1: (CC) K1 sl1. Row 2: (CC) K. Row 3: (CC) Sl 1 K1.
  4. Row 1: (CC) K1 sl 1. Row 2: (CC) K. Row 3: (MC) K1 sl 1.
  5. Row 1: (MC) K1 sl1. Row 2 (CC) Sl 1 K1. Row 3: (CC) K1 sl 1. Row 4: (MC) Sl 1 K1.
  6. As Pattern 5, but please insert a Row 2.5 in between rows 2 and 3. Row 2.5: (CC) K.
I'll be totally fair and admit that Pattern 3, the worst zig zag of the bunch, was my idea for 'best way to achieve zig zag.' After swatching Pattern 3, however, I quickly invented a new method, Pattern 4, and gave that a try. I think that one is the best of the slip stitched lot.

Patterns 5 and 6 were knit with a slip stitch technique, but they are not slip stitch patterns. So, what's the difference between slip stitch technique and slip stitch patterns? I dare not speak officially, since I have no reference books on the subject - although I hear Barbara Walker covers them quite well in one of her Treasuries. To my mind, though, a slip stitch technique is what you do when you're working with two different colors in one row in a Fair Isle style pattern, and you choose to only work one color at a time. You'll notice that in Row 1 of Pattern 5, I worked the stitches that were in the main color, and then in Row 2, I went back and used the other color to knit all the stitches not knit in the previous row. Some people prefer this method to working with both colors at once. Some authors heartily dissuade knitters from even attempting such a daring feat. Rosemary and I will go on record as cheerfully ignoring that advice, although in our own separate ways.

A slip stitch pattern uses a slip stitch technique, but goes one step further. It has elongated stitches - but not the kind created by extra wraps around the needle which are later dropped. Look at Pattern 1. See the humongous dark Vs? Those were created by slipping the dark green stitch in Row 3 of the pattern. They sure stick out like a sore thumb, and are meant to. Slip stitch patterns can be quite pleasing to the eye. One, a Mosaic pattern, is going to end up on the Tea Cozy I keep talking about making. Patterns 1-4 all have elongated stitches in them, stitches that were pulled just a bit larger than others in their row when they were slipped and had to stretch further than just the next row. In Patterns 5 and 6, no stitch is elongated since Rows 1 and 2, combined, knit each stitch once, and Rows 3 and 4 combined do the same. No stitches have to stretch anywhere.

In other knitting, I finished the second reincarnation of the Embossed Leaf Socks,
and made good progress on the shawl. In my scholastic endeavours, I am parsing portions of The Merchant of Venice, and enjoying 3rd declension nouns in the beta version of Elementary Greek: The Third Year (my title, not the publisher's).

Mom has been feeling a bit better every day since Monday, and today she actually feels good. I, being a dutiful daughter, told her to play sick for a few more days while her body continues to recover. Mom is working on a Hardanger bread cloth. I'll have to put a picture of it up here when she finishes it. It's her first Hardanger!

Does anyone besides me find it totally unfair that KnitPicks has come out with a new yarn? A Merino/Pima blend. I'm glad it's worsted weight. I can resist stuff that thick fairly well. If it was fingering weight, I'd have it in my shopping cart already. There's another new yarn, Spinnaker. A super bulky cotton they didn't even mention in their promotional e-mail.

This week I'd like to get about 200 rows done on the shawl, get another pair of socks on the needles, order the yarn for my next shawl, make some headway in G. K. Chesterton's 'The Man Who Was Thursday', and keep up with general house stuff. Oh, homeschool too.