Friday, March 13, 2015

Nothing Doing

I am still working on last months socks—I haven't even done an inch past the half row of waste yarn for the heel placement.

And I haven't done much else. The weather is better, and last weeks mountain of snow have melted away—and there has been glorious sunshine day after day. But I am spent. I find it harder and harder each year to adjust to Daylight saving time—and for the first week, I have insomnia.. a rare complaint for me. March is always the low point in the year... 

But I have been thinking—and planning and today, I even got a video done. Two videos actually; one about sewn bind offs, and one of a sewn bind off. I think sewn bind offs are under-represented. 

 I know of 4, the simple sewn bind off, (also known as EZ sewn bind off or a back stitch bind off) that results in a bind off edge that is very similar to the long tail cast on.)

There is also a sewn bind off that matches the Latvian Cast on, (which is a varition of the basic long tail cast on) and also know as an Open and Closed Loop Long Tail Cast On.

Third, there is a sewn bind off that matches the twisted long tail cast on

Finally, there is a tubular bind off—which is just a variation of Grafting (aka Kitchener stitch) and matches a tubular cast on

There are more sewn bind offs than these four, sewn hems for sure, and I have heard of others, but have never seen photo's of the finished bind off, or photo essays on how to work the bind offs.

The text tutorial I have come across aren't all that clear. They make you true believers in the expression a single picture is worth a thousand words! I will work on learning these, (and their faults) with the goal of making videos of these bind offs too.

I am not a complete fan of the simple bind off. I would rather start a project with a different cast on and knitting needle worked bind off than sew a bind off –most often.

But there are uses for sewn bind offs, (even if I don't use them very often)  The above videos are already on YOUTube and there are links to them on my web page, on the page of Bind Offs, so they can easily be found again.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Cast Ons, Double Knitting and More

I started blogging 7 years ago (come this summer). And over the years, I have blogged about my life, cooking, my neighborhood, my knitting and my many knitting related obsessions.

I have blogged about knitting in the round, and about leaf designs (a continuing obsession) and written some tutorials; one about knitting in the rounds and one about double knitting.

And of course, I have written about Cast Ons! The Cast On Tutorial now has pages and and pages of information, about Cast Ons, and Bind Offs, and Selvages. Oh, it still needs work, (it will always need work, updates and improvements are a given!)

But the Cast On list, is, (I think) slowing to a halt. I might not have every cast on method, but most. 5 years ago, the list of cast on methods was about 40—since then, it has grown to 60. New cast on methods have been rare. Mostly there are just new variations.

I recently received a request—Can you (anyone) do a twisted version of a long tail cast on, using a knit and purl variation? This isn't really a new cast on, it is just a combination of 2 variations—the Twisted Long Tail and the K and P Long Tail.

I knew it could be done, and said as much, but the inquiring mind was a visual learner.. and while she understood in theory that it could be done, she couldn't quite master the details.

So, a new video and new variation of the long tail cast on: The Twisted Long Tail Cast On, worked in Knitsand Purls. Not really a new cast on, just a new variation of a well known one.

I haven't (yet) worked out how to do this for the MAINE variation. The Maine cast on is a “thumb” version of the twisted long tail... (vs the sling shot variation of the twisted long tail)--but if any one else has, I would love to see it.
For the past few days, instead of knitting, I have been writing and editing. I copied a number of the posts I made about double knitting, and put them together into a tutorial. The result is  the beginning of a complete tutorial to Double Knitting--made from  14 pages of  text, scatter over a month of blog posts.

These 14 pages then got divided into 10 parts—making each part a much more manageable chunk of information, and allowing easier navigation and the ability to easily skip parts.Some photos and links to videos have been added. But there is still work to do (lots more work!) —the list of resources isn't anywhere near complete, and there are many missing links in some sections. 

It's a lot of work, but I like the work.

I have stated goals for the year—New designs, and new patterns, more videos, and improving my web page. I feel good that I am making progress on all three fronts.  

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Continuing My Goal--

I have just completed another new video. My newest YouTube video is the Half Double Knit Garter Stitch...

At first glance it looks like a standard garter--but it's not, and while it has of the characteristics of a garter stitch; non rolling, same on each side, compact row gauge, it is actually more compact than a standard garter stitch, and thicker, and plusher.

The swatch starts out in Half Double Knit garter stitch, then switches to seed stitch, (repeats of R1) and changes to real garter stitch, and then finally returns to Half Double Knit Garter Stitch.

The changes make it very clear that Half Double Knit Garter has a significantly different row and stitch gauge. It's harder to see that the stitch is also thicker, but works a few rows for your self and you'll quickly see (and feel) how much thicker and plusher this stitch is.

Half Double Knit Garter Stitch
3 row pattern, worked over a multiple of 2
R1: * P1, K1. Repeat across row
R2: * K1, slip the knit stitch Repeat across row
R3: * K1, slip the purl stitch Repeat across row
For rows 2 and 3, keep the yarn at the back of the work. And slip the stitches purlwise.

Rows 2 and 3 are basically the same, but.. K1, Sl1 makes its a little hard to keep track of which row you are on.. K1, Slip the knit and K1, slip the purl help you distinguish the 2 rows. And makes it easier (for me at least!) to keep track of which row is being worked.

The edges of the work can be a bit raggedy. An I cord selvage helps create a finished look—if the edges aren't going to be seamed.

Half double knit garter stitch with I cord edging.
3 row pattern, worked of a multiple of 2, Plus 6—I like to place markers (first 3 and last 3 stitches) to make it easy to keep track of the i-cord stitches.
(if you want a more prominent I-cord, increase K3/slip 3 to 4 or 5 stitches)
R1: K3, * P1, K1. Repeat across row, end row with by slipping last 3 stitches
R2: K3, * K1, slip the knit stitch Repeat across row, end row by slipping last 3 stitches
R3: K3* K1, slip the purl stitch Repeat across row, end row by slipping last 3 stitches

For rows 2 and 3, keep the yarn at the back of the work. And slip the stitches purlwise.

I really like this stitch. There are some very nice patterns from EZ that are worked it garter stitch (one of her favorite stitches.) I often dislike them, because I tend to like snug cuffs—and many garter stitch patterns tend to be boxy—Sleeves are straight, (or just slightly tapered) tubes, and sweaters, too, tend to have boxy lower edges. The half double knit garter allow you to have snug cuffs, that, at first glance are garter too. The stitch is stretchy—but returns to its smaller size.

This stitch is great for garter stitch slippers, too. Tighter, and thicker, it holds its shape better. Being thick and plusher it feels good under your feet.

I think it would be great for floor/bath mats, too. I've made thick plush bath mats out of worsted weight cotton, but this stitch is thicker and plusher... and just as reversible. It would be slower to knit, but I think it would be worth the extra effort.

I am sure I haven't of half or even a quarter of the ways to use this stitch—I am sure there are many applications I haven't thought of.   

Monday, February 23, 2015

From A Cold

To a sinus infection, and now, almost better, a stye. The frigid weather being no help at all! My apartment is warm enough (last year there was an issue with not enough heat), but not feeling well and cabin fever are a bad combination.

I was out last Thursday—and since then, the weather has been cold, cold, and colder. Most days the HIGH for the day has been in the 20's (that is 20°F!) and nights in the single digits.

I have been sluggish—but I have gotten something done.

First the socks.. slow progress here, but progress all the same. I hated the first attempt at a mock cable and couldn't be bothered to frog—these are just every day socks, and most of what was knit will be covered by my shoes, so I just switch patterns. A simple traveling cable—easy enough and it works.

I have one completed diamond, and at 6.5 inches, I am coming to the point where I have to make a decision about the heel. If I am going to do an after thought heel, I need to start the small side gussets I always use to give a bit more ease. I have a high instep, and with out something, the sock will be tight and uncomfortable.

I tend to like after thought heels for self striping yarns—I dislike a F/T/G heel—since it plays havoc with the striping pattern. There are other options, but these too have side effects. Well it seems I have already made a decision—an after thought heel it is.

I have been working on my web page too. I have added some raw text the the section on double knitting, and adding a new video, too. I'll be working on fixing up the text with links, and images. Organizing the information to make it easier to use. 90% of the text comes from old blog posts I've made about double knitting. There was over lapping information, and patterns and images. It is a bit better, but it still needs lots of work to make it useful and easy to navigate.

This info is being edited, organized, and sectioned. Internal sub pages (with links to and back to main menu) will make navigating easier.

The new video is a demo of half double knitting. Some of you have seen half double knitting in action—commercial swatches (found in big box craft stores) are sometimes done in half double knitting. It looks like stocking knit, but its is a fabric that doesn't curl. The key is the appearance of the back of the swatch—which doesn't look “normal”.

Like all double-knitting, it uses more yarn. I like half double-knitting for button bands on seam less sweaters, but it has other uses: soles of knitted slippers, or straps on market bags, or palms of mittens. It's good any place you need an extra layer for durability want a slightly thicker, slightly denser bit of knitting for some reinforcement.

Half double knitting comes in 2 “flavors”: Ribbed, and garter stitch. You can find my video, (half double knit ribbing) and tutorial (not mine) of the half double knitting garter at the top of the page right now. I'll be making a video of the half double-knit garter stitch soon.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Step 3 Is Still On Hold

But the mistake in the socks has been repaired, and between my frequent naps, I have gotten a few round done... a hardly noticeable amount, but something. I think its the flu, rather than a cold, I have minimal nasal congestion, and almost no cough, but I am achy and fevery but not too bad. Well, not too bad so long as I keep warm, get 10 hours sleep at night, and 2 daytime naps. I wake to eat and drink fluids, and then rest till I take a nap.

I take aspirin at night to sleep, but I manage 2 day time naps with no effort. I have a stock of soup—and lemons and honey. And plenty of vitamin C drops—which don't cure anything—but I think they are a useful anti oxidant—and inflammation and infections do release free radicals, upping your body's need for anti oxidants

So I will lay low and take all the rest I need. I won't venture out—there really is no reason to—until the winds die down, and the temperature comes up (at least to something close to normal (ie, above freezing!) )--which won't be til the weekend!

I got a load of dishes done, too. Had to. I had run out of bowl for soup and hot oatmeal (my breakfast the past few days. Now I have lots of clean bowls ready to fill again with hot, healing soup.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Step 2—Big, Very Big

But not, I think, too big.

The sewn up slippers are about 10 inches long at the sole, from tip to top and while that is very big, the girls have big feet about 6 inches long. So once they felt up and shrink.. the slipper shoes should be about the right size.. a little big maybe, but not huge.

We'll have to want and see, though, won't we?  Once I know, I will make a second pair.

I remember seeing slipper's like this, 2 computers ago—and several browser ago. The bookmark to the site was lost somewhere in the upgrades. (or crashes). I went looking and found the site, Frugal Haus Knitting—Now with a huge friendly easy to use web page—and many of their free patterns a bit harder to find.

The pattern I remember was one constructed of individual blocks of garter stitch –Frugalhaus had dozens of pattern constructed from garter stitch blocks of various sizes. The idea was make up the garter squares with your scraps and partial skeins, and then, sew them together to make hats or mittens or slippers or place mats (or dozens of other items)between projects, using the squares.  

There was a huge collection of things to make...

The pattern I used was a much improved version—a it's based on blocks (# stitches X # garter ridges)--(so 9 X 9, or 11 X 11, or 13 X 13...) but the blocks are knit together from the get go.  These slippers are  3 blocks X 1 topped with 5 blocks X 1—a total of 8 blocks per slipper, with minimal seaming, since the blocks are pre-joined.  

One seam actually—A long zigzag one finished them.   Too big to actually be sewn comfortable in one go; you'd need a yard of yarn to pull through those first stitches. And all the seams are on the top of the slipper--making it comfortable to walk on.. I went up a needle size (to make a loose fabric for fulling/felting) but I bet I could go down a size to a US6/4mm needle and make a tight dense garter fabric,  and just leave the slippers as they are--and they would work almost as well.

I likely won't get them felted today—I felt a little off yesterday, but today, fever and cough, stuffy nose, headache, the whole 9 yards of a cold –its a day to sit back and keep warm, to rest and take care of myself.

With rest, and soup, and other hot fluids, I should be fine again in a day or two.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Step 1

Knitting: DONE

Last night I was 7/8th done, and ran out of yarn...I hadn't started with a full skein, and had another, but had to rummage through the stash to find it. So the last few rows were completed this morning.

The results are HUGE. I think I made the wrong size. But too big is better than too small, and I have seen some felted objects shrink down to almost half size, so maybe they are not too big. But they sure look like it right now!

The pattern comes in a range of sizes—from -1, 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, +1 (or if you prefer, 21) and +3 (or 23)--My slippers are size 3. I wasn't sure if I should make size 1 or size 3, and decided on size 3. If they end up too big after felting, the girls can grow into them. Too small, and well, that is the end of that.

So I went bigger, and I'll see in a few days whether I went too big or not.

Step 2—Coming up next, sewing each of the stacks into a slipper. Some what like the baby surprise sweater, the knitting gets folded, and seamed, and something that doesn't look at all like a slipper, magically becomes one.

This is the hardest part—I will need markers, and uninterrupted time to get this done, but fortunately there isn't much sewing to do.

Step 3-- Will be the felting. I am at a disadvantage here, I don't own my own washer, and have to use what is available—Fortunately, it is a top loading washer, and hot water in the building is really HOT. It cools a bit as it rises up in the pipes, but the laundry room is right next to the furnace/water heaters—and the laundry room water is scalding hot. The washer cycles are all the same length, but there is a heavy setting for denim, and gentle setting (with much less agitation) (with 2 other setting between these) so I should get good felting with just a single wash. I might pre-sock in cold water and then shock them by adding them to the hot water...

I'll plan on getting up early and trying tomorrow AM. I might toss them in the drier, too if I think they need it. (it has to be early or late afternoon—Saturday is a busy laundry day.)

Once I am done, I will evaluate, and plan for the next pair (or pairs). I still need to pick up a tube of silicon caulking too, for the soles. These slipper shoes will be good for wearing in the stroller, and for walking about indoors—but indoors for them means slick hardwood floors. Non slip footwear is a must.