Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Beginning to move

While coughing isn't the greatest thing in the world, a moderate amount sure beats hanging around in a cocoon all day wondering if one is awake or not. And 3 days of coughing bouts an hour before the alarm goes off is enough to inspire an hour of extra knitting time in the morning. I can be a slow learner, but three days was enough of a hint.

Hat photos! Here, with no further ado, is the February Swatch Hat. (Minus the pom-pom, added to suit the recipient's fancy). The yarn is Stash Yarn, probably wool, two strands, two ply each. The motif is from Philosopher's Wool. The shot of the top of the hat could have been cropped ... but this way, you can see what represents half a day of miscellaneous reading in our house.

The Alpine Lace is coming along slowly, but surely. I had my Very First Dropped Stitch on it yesterday, and took a photo during the minor surgery it took to repair it. The colors are pretty true ... blueberry and blue-purple. I haven't hit a spot where both plys of yarn are purple yet, but one looks to be coming up. The pattern calls for 37 (or so) repeats of the leaf pattern. I have the dubious pleasure of knitting over 60 of them, I think. Twenty-two are done already, and the portion I blocked a week ago has, with a little bit of stretching, 8 leaves per 6 inches. The border is 5", top and botton, ... and that gives me a quantity of repeats I really don't want to think about yet. I'll keep knitting, block it again in a week or two, see how much it relaxes when off the board, and pick a nice random number of repeats at that time.

In the meantime, I have finished one modified Jaywalker sock, and am ready to start the patterned portion on the second. My felted slippers are saying good bye, so a pair of those is rapidly climbing up the 'to make' list (although it was above freezing today, and ds is plotting to bring out his summer clothes and go on long bike rides with dh.) I also got my Peace Fleece Yarn, so the Green Mountain Spinnery Cardigan is calling to me. I will probably start one or the other tonight, after I get a repeat or two done on the shawl. Knitting with worsted Peace Fleece after working with Graceful is going to be like writing with a chunky crayon after using a single-hair calligraphy brush. That stuff looks FAT! (113 grams = 200 yards; the same weight of Graceful would measure 2034 yards). The stuff is fat.

Of course, the slippers call for bulky yarn. A spate of quick projects seem to be calling me.

Quote to think about:
Silly sensitivity has displaced intellectual honesty in American education. We've produced a generation with no sense of national identity and little connection to the nation's collective memory. In the proces we've traded life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for fat, dumb, and happy.
~ Kathleen Parker

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Going nowhere, slowly

My usual blog nite and large chunk of crafting time this past week disappeared in a pile of blankets surrounding my shivering self, bleary eyes, and a temperature - the sum of whose digits was a whopping total of three (no decimals included). I knew things were bad when I considered knitting and dismissed the notion out of hand. I did manage to listen to the last 2 cassettes of Turgenyev's Fathers and Sons, however. That only required wiggling a hand out of my cocoon, engaging in a small display of manual dexterity (the tape recorder was on the floor, and the room was dark), and returning the hand back to the cocoon.

I survived to make a 210 mile round-trip trek to dd's doctor the next day, and review a knitting submission once we returned home. I'm still on the tired side, though.

I do have pictures of February's Stash Hat, have finished one sock (doctor visits are good for that), and have made some abysmally small progress on the Alpine Lace (but I did order more yarn!)

No pictures today, though. That would take too much energy. Instead, I shall share my daughter's imitation of "Sing a Song of Sixpence", one of this week's assignments.

Knitting is creative fun,
Let me tell you why.
You can play with colors,
Patterns multiplyu.
Toys are soft and fuzzy,
And are knit easily!
They are delightful to be found
Underneath the Christmas Tree.

You can knit a blanket
Quickly to get warm.
You can knit some wool socks
To keep your toes from harm.
You can knit some mittens,
To give to charity.
While wearing handknit sweaters,
You can drink some warm mint tea.

It's nice having another knitter in the family.

I wonder what she'll do with "Rise Up, O Men of God"? Perhaps something along the lines of
Rise Up and Knit That Stash
Have done with buying yarn.
Devote yourself to using up
The wool stored in your barn.

Knitlore has wonderful possibilities for language studies. Whatever will dd do when we get to studying maxims and chreia? I can see the possibilities now ... take one of Stephanie Pearl McPhee's archived narratives, summarize it, create a maxim from it, recast it as a chreia, and write an Encomium paragraph for the maxim you have created. (Have I been doing too much editing today?)

Knittior, Altior, Fortior
Knitto, ergo sum.
Dum spiro, knitto.

Knitting wasn't around in the classical Latin period (unless, of course, you consider the Knitting Madonna to be an accurate representation of an event during Mary's lifetime), so there isn't an official Latin word for it that I know of. If you know of a semi-official one that has been coined since then, leave me a comment!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Alpine Lace - 1/6th done

The next month is going to see a lot of knitting to make little progress. My plan is to make the Alpine Lace Shawl 6' long or so. Last night I blocked out what I had knit so far, to see how much I'd knit, and if the ball I had would be enough.

My calculations tell me I've got enough to knit a 42" shawl. And that tells me I need to order another ball of yarn. One ball is either 1200 yards (per website) or 903 yards *(per ball band). If I'd've gotten a 100 gram ball, I wouldn't have this problem ... but I didn't, so I do, and the big challenge is going to be figuring out WHERE in the color pattern to join the balls. It's so subtly vareigated that it wasn't
until yesterday that I realized I hadn't knit a full repeat of the color pattern yet. I thought that little blip of blue towards the beginning was it. It wasn't. Now, looking carefully at the ball, I'm pretty sure I haven't gotten to the purplest purple section either.

So, for the next month and longer, I shall be knit-knit-knitting away at this. It blocks 18" wide nicely, so I'm glad I added the extra pattern multiple (7 diamonds and 5 leaf motifs, instead of 6 and 4). I also didn't see any dropped stitches.

The Jaywalker socks are still on the needles for my traveling project, and I probably should put a pair of slippers for me on my to-do list. The felted pair I made two or three years ago has more holes than sole left. Resoling is an option, but the heel is just about gone as well, and there's a mild breeze on my toes as well ... so starting from scratch is probably the way to go.

One nice thing about the Alpine Lace ... I don't have to worry about the fine yarn catching on the needle join. Unless I'm spreading the project out for admiration/measuring/blocking, it never gets off the needle portion of my interchangeable circs. I could almost knit it on 5" sock needles, but I think a stitch or two might run off the end every once in a while.

Like like they did when my dog accidentally got tangled in the lace and dragged it halfway across the downstairs. EEEEK!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Alpine Lace on the needles

I've started the Alpine Lace shawl in earnest now. After a few days of work, my progress looks like a little black blob.You may have heard that blocking can be very important for lace items. I agree with this. The shawl looks quite different when pinned out.
I did decide to go with the 2.75 mm needles. I'm not so sure the swatch helped -- it had error after error in it, and I really didn't feel like frogging a swatch for accuracy, so I ended up with 8 error-stricken rows, tugged at it, contemplated, and decided that if I went with a 3.5 mm needle, I'd always wonder if the shawl was Too Open ... and went with the smaller needles. I can't find anyone (published, that is) who uses bigger than a US 2 with cobweb-weight yarn. I didn't care to be the first.

To compensate for the bitsiness of the yarn, I've increased the diamond multiples to 7. I debated adding repeats, but at this point, will probably stick with 3 repeats at each end. How many repeats between the ends is an entirely different matter... who knows how that will work out. Tonight's challenge is going to be determining how to finagle the mid-section with my current number of stitches. Let's see ... 18 x 7 - 50 = 17 x ? + fudge factor.

I finished the Fair Isle from the Stash, and gave it away before it even got home for photos. Stay tuned ... I hope to borrow it back for photos. I used up all my medium green, light green, and orange yarns. That's three colors -- does that negate the three skeins of sock yarn from last week?

I didn't think so.

Since I've got a Stash Project done for February already, I've begun work on my mom's socks. I like the yarn, and the pattern is working out nicely. The jury is out as to whether the sock is too big ... but if it is, that means I can knit THREE socks from this lucious yarn.
I was all set to fudge the pattern, since it called for 31 sts/4" in stockinette, and the gauge on the ball band was 5-6 sts/" on size 1-3 needles. So, bravely armed with size 3 needles, I altered the pattern, and started knitting. After an inch or so of the toe, I idly checked my gauge ... 8 stitches per inch. Argh. I know I knit tight, but in this case, I think there may be a typo on the ball band.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Musings on the Alpine Lace

Behold, the blocked Cherry Leaf Shoulder Shawl! The dimensions are 56" across, and 24" from neck to point. It's borderline too small, but I think with a nifty pin, it will do nicely (especially for someone who has reasonably sized shoulders). If I make it again with this yarn, I will definitely add more repeats, and probably try the insanity of knitting the border with the shawl, instead of later. The only tricky part would be getting two points going at the bottom tip and converting that into three stitches for the beginning of the shawl. That doesn't sound too insurmountable, though ... perhaps a provisional cast on, knit two points, then pick up stitches across the knit edge, and head on to the rest of the shawl!

I headed out to doctor's appointments yesterday with nothing on the needles but a stash reduction project - a hat using yarn from Sharon's stash (Sharon, who worked at the Weaver's Place in Baltimore, but that store hasn't existed for aboug 10 years....) and a motif from Fair Isle Sweaters Simplified (which, in general, aren't Fair Isle Sweaters). Waiting for me at the post office were two little balls of yarn (the cream and the dark blotch) from Yarn Place. Then, before we got to the appointment, we stopped at Yarnzilla and my mom decided she needed more socks ... hence the Bearfoot Mountain yarn, Tofutsies, and Regia. Did you know that Tofutsies has Chitin in it (as well as soysilk) and is antibacterial? Amazing stuff these days, yarn.

None of these things, as you may imagine, are going to be good for stash reduction in February. I'll get the hat finished, and then pop some socks in Bearfoot onto my needles. Here's a better picture of the colors. I'm not sure if I'll use a pattern, or go for simple stockinette. It will be nice to have something to ponder while finishing off the hat.

When I got home last night, of course, I had to swatch for my Alpine Lace Shawl. I found the end (major feat #1) without too much mess, cast on 40 stitches, knit an inch of stockinette (since the gauge for the pattern is given in stockinette ... but I'm not too sure about gauge, since I got gauge with my Cherry Leaf shawl, and came miserably short of the final measurements and yarn usage) and dove into the border pattern.

I learned a few things. Addi Turbos, size 3.5 mm are workable for fine lace. I can frog two half rows by removing the needle, pulling on the yarn, and picking up stitches. It's not alpaca, and doesn't run (much, with gentle handling. I wouldn't want to try it in a moving vehicle on a bumpy road. Not breathing may have helped too.) My two stitch garter border disappeared ... to be expected, if I'd thought about it, since one of those two stitches gets slipped, leaving me with a 1 stitch actual border. And the yarn is finer than a quilting pin.

The swatch is 5.75" wide and the lace portion is between 2.3 and 2.5" deep. That's about right for the shawl size ... but I'm not sure if I like how open it is. Would it be better on size 2 needles? It's that dratted 'Yarn Weight 1' category again. Sock yarn (200 m/50 grams) does not work up anything like laceweight (440 yds/50 grams) which is yet different from cobweb weight (+900 yds/50 grams). And the yarn used for the project in the book has weight/yardage listed as 'discontinued' (grr), but the alternate yarn is 114g/1250 yds. Should I knit this up on a size 2 needle, and add in extra repeats? That would mean chancing getting a different dyelot if I should need more yarn .. but it's vareigated to begin with, so that helps somewhat. A LONG vareigation.

Muse, muse, muse.