Thursday, December 28, 2006

Hat 3 and other stuff

Last night I finished up the 3rd of six hats I am knitting for The Ships Project (there is a link at left, with other links)

I know I can knit faster. I could just knock out some hats plain knitting and make 6 virtually identical hats in no time at all. I suspect the Marines who receive them wouldn’t care.

But what is the fun in that? I am not simple knitting for them.
I am knitting for my pleasure, too!

Hat 3 got started and frogged 3 times.--I never really got past row 6 or 8 or so.
Eventually I changed yarns, change process (went from brim up to a top down method) and changed designs.

It finally end up looking like this:

(Hat 4 is having a similar problem-- its at row 6 and I don’t like it.. So out it will come!)

I am/am not going to give you the pattern for this hat.

It follows a sort of cellular automaton design.

While the design starts out as K2 of CC, K1 of MC, as the stitches increase,
it evolves into K3 of CC, K1 of MC.
At some point it flips, (K3 of MC, K1 of CC), and them flips/flops back and forth before the hem.

The 3:1 pattern start over every new “segment” or 6 times per round.
These segments (quite visible in top), continue all the way to the hem.

The starting point for the basic pattern is different in every round.
(I.e., 1 round might be K1CC, *K1 MC, K3CC, (3 times) and end with a K1CC, in each segment)
Sometimes, pattern reverses at the mid point of the segment.

I haven’t thought about it enough to figure out the ‘rules’ that govern the pattern.

My fingers know the pattern better than my head. At the beginning of each round, I find my place, and then just knit. I find this sort of generic fair isle to be almost mindless.
(Which says something profound about how my mind works!)
The hat was knit with Paton’s SWS and Paton’s Classic Merino, on size (US) size 8 needles. The SWS (soy/wool/stripe) provided the color changes.

The basic shape:
Cast on 6, join into round.
Increase 12 stitches evenly placed, every 3rd round.
At round 6, add second color (fair isle style) using a Make 1 for the new color.
(these added stitches are part of the basic pattern of increases!)
Continue to work in cellular automaton design (which will change, as the number of stitches increase) until you have enough stitches.
In my case that was 84 stitches, (14 stitches in each of 6 segments) - you may require fewer/more if you use different yarns/needles/gauge.

The design (fair isle) pattern will change if you have few or more stitches, but it will still work!
You will still end up with some basic X and O designs. (smaller or larger perhaps)

Switch design by switching Main Color for Contrasting Color at some point.
/Switch back.

End with Ribbing or several rows of Latvian braiding.

To learn more about how to knit with Cellular Automaton designs, Google Cellular Automaton,
or see Unexpected Knitting (Debbie New) or Knitting Nature (Sarah Gaughan).
As the year draws to a close, I am thinking about what I will be doing next year.
Teaching more, (so far just at Village Knitter, but maybe even more there, and hopefully else where) is one of my goals.

Knitting more is too!

Knitting what? Well so far:

Hat for my DD (her birthday is 1/14)
(she ask at Christmas and was pretty particular about what she wanted. But she so rarely asks for anything, its easy to accommodate her requirements)

Maybe a shawl for her too.

More hats for The Ship Project (since I won’t have 6 done in time for First mailing (first week in January) half will be sent in time for second mailing (first week in February)

Sweater for Grand Daughter
(in blue, green and purple, currently her favorite colors)

Poncho for Grand Son
(granddaughter asked for a poncho matching hers for her brother)

Sweater (maybe actually a vest?) for Grandson.

12 pairs of socks (1 pair a month)
(there are sock yarns battling out in my head who’s next!)

Finishing my “not a Scandinavian Sweater”
(don’t ask and I won’t tell)

Baby Sweater for Jill new son (still not born, but any day now!)
I have made him a few hats, but a sweater would be nice.

Finishing Red spiral shawl.

Finishing up DOCUMENTING Viking hat.

(I know there are more things on the list. I just can’t think of them right now!)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

2 Degrees of Seperation

On Christmas day, my DIL told me a sweater I knit for my grandson Cyrus, finally fits perfectly. Really, I knit 3 to 6month size!--just 20 or so inches at chest, (Cyrus is now going on 18 months!)
Well, it’s good it fits him--even if months later than anticipated. And its very good it fits him now when the weather is cooler, and sweaters are more useful.

Here’s Cyrus (before he fit in the sweater) with Debbie New, (mom is behind the camera!) at Stitches West last year.
Sonya (DIL) met Debbie New the previous year, when she took a class with her. And Debbie was kind enough to pose with Cyrus, because he’s wearing a sweater inspired by her design in Unexpected Knitting.
So there are just 2 degree’s of separation between me and Debbie New.

The sweater was one of the most fun things I have ever knitted.
It was in some aspects, incredible simple.

It was in other aspects, incredible complex.

I suppose it was only complex if you thought about it.
I suppose if you followed Debbie’s directions exactly (and ended up with an exact replica of the sweater she designed), it would have been simple enough.

But I never do that! Besides, I wanted to understand the process.

The sweater is made up of 2 identical hexagon sort of shapes, that are knit in the round.
The shapes are folded, seamed, and simple finished.
Like any sweater, GAUGE is paramount.

The Hexagons aren’t hexagons. The basic shape is a six sided (like a hexagon) but unlike a hexagon, its made from 6 right-angled (90° ) wedges (not 6 equilateral triangles)

Stop and think about that for a moment.

Normally a hexagon is made from 6 triangles , each of which has equal sides and equal angles. And since the sum total of degrees in a triangle always equals 180° , an equilateral triangle always has 3 60° angles.
When all wedged together, you get a six sided figure, that fits on a plane--(a flat surface)
The 6 triangles can be arranged to fit inside of a circle (6 X 60° =360° ) --a very convenient thing if you are knitting in the round.

Now think what happens when you have 6 Right (90° ) angles meeting at one point.
6X90° =540° ! Yikes!
If you think it can’t be done, think again. It can. Its just isn’t a flat figure.
It ripples. It ruffles. Its too big to lie flat.

But if you fold the knitting in half, ( 540° /2=270° ) you end up with a double sided 270° shape, and that you can visualize--270° =¾ of square.
It’s a letter L or Number 7 sort of shape.

Put 2 together, and you can get a double sided T shape.
And a T shape works fine for a sweater.
Especially a baby sweater.

I wrote extensively on the experience last year as I was knitting it.
I didn’t have a blog then, but posted on Knitty’s coffee shop (BB) and on Knitter’s Review BB.(links to these sites in side column).
I’ll share more about the experience here, in the next few days.

(and I'll post a photo of hat #3 for The Ships Project)

Sunday, December 24, 2006

More Enablers

Enablers 2
My December socks, (remember, back at the beginning of December, I was making socks? ) are still unfinished, and I have now set myself a goal of a half dozen knit hats, but Lisa (aka defendedtoclick on the coffee shop BB) G, --who also is know as the
Tsock Tsarina --(and is the designer of the Kitri socks the Yarn Harlots has featured on her blog, ( here and else where on her blog) gave me the most beautiful hank of sock yarn, to lure me back into sock knitting.

It’s a special dye lot from Jennifer of (Van CalCar Acres) and it’s a good thing I have hats (simple hats) to knit, so my mind is free to think about what to do with this beautiful yarn. I definitely need to find a special pattern for this yarn.
It’s the golden rosy dawn --ribbons of sun light -- warm and sunny, as pretty as a brand new day! So, how does that translate into a pair of socks? I’ll have to figure out a way!
Just before I got Renee’s email, I had finished a second (improved) version of my Evening Star hat.
This version done in Phildar Rubis Kid, (70% kid mohair/30% acrylic) was knit on finer needles, (with a finer gauge yarn) but still blocked to the same size as the 90% acrylic LB yarn.
The improvement was simple knitting it in a better yarn!

I’ve also knit second version of the Pleated Kitty--this one is oversized, and will be felted--and then photographed .

Meanwhile, last night, I completed hat 2 of my goal of 6 for The Ships Project.

This hat is a simple 2 X 2 rib, made with Paton's Classic Merino, in the color Retro.
I think it looks like Sand and Sea, Day and Night. Its about 12 inches long, so there is plenty to fold back to make a nice deep cuff.

I like the way the yarn colors move, forward, and back--(in retrograde!)


Enablers-- 1
It’s amazing isn’t it, how enablers enter your life?
My obsession with knitting hats started up in the weeks before Thanksgiving, and was, with the sun’s light, waning.
Then, along comes Renee G., and now I am, once again, working hard, knitting hats.

Mind you, I am not working as hard as KnitNerd, (aka Barbara V.) who has taken a leaf out of the Yarn Harlots book, and set a goal for herself , (back in the beginning of December) of making a hat a day.
And she has stuck to it.. Though sometimes she substitutes fingerless gloves for a hat.
(both KnitNerd and Renee are blogless!)

Getting back to Renee, she sent me a link to
The Ship’s Project, a group that is dedicated to sending hand knit hats US service men and women.
I got the link Thursday, and completed the first hat (Oversea’s) Saturday.

Now I am several inches into the second.

My goal is a half dozen ready in time to for the next mailing (January 7th--or if I am late, by the February mailing!)

I have some very mixed feelings about a lot of charity knitting, but none at all about supporting the fine men and women who serve this country. What ever political sentiment there is state’s sides, they deserve to know their willingness to serve is appreciated. And if a hat helps, well then, a hat, or two, or dozen, it is!
I could I suppose just knit plain hats, but what’s the fun in that? I have so many odd balls, and half balls, and bits and pieces, I’ll have some fun. Nothing too complicated, but nothing to boring either.
Why not check your knitting bag or basket, and see what yarn you have left froom your holiday projects, and make a hat?

Monday, December 18, 2006

If Martha Stewart knit,

She’s have these by the gross!

They are just empty yarn cones --spray painted green and and trimmed with fancy buttons (held in place with bent paper clips! )

(I know you wanted another excuse to by more yarn.)

They nicely compliment my glass arboretum.

I don't have a standard real or fake christmas tree.

I have my glass ones, and a rope light one on my terrace (that is quite visible from living room).

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Do you Push Knitting,

as your DRUG of choice?
I know I do.
Lot’s of obsessed, I mean, Passionate knitters do.
Needles, of course are the thing you need.
Lot’s of cheap, readily available needles.
My favorite are made from bamboo chop sticks.

I know not all Chinese restaurants use this style, but when you find one that does, ask to buy a dozen sets or so (my local restaurant charges 10¢ for extra sets, and every once in a while, I buy a $1 worth)

In most craft stores you can find wooden doll head, (these come in 1 inch and ¾ inch, I prefer the smaller ¾ inch ones) 4 in a pack, normal $1, but when they go on sale I stock up and buy a few packs.--I suppose if I looked harder, I could find the doll heads packaged in sets larger than 4 at time (and these would likely be cheaper still!) But the 4 packs go on sale often enough, so I haven't made the effort to look!

The Bamboo chopsticks are almost precisely a (US) size 8/5mm.

The doll heads fit the chop sticks perfectly, and unlike BEADS, they have a neat smooth round top. I twist them on, and don't need to use glue.

The points of the chopsticks need some shaping, but an emery board will be sufficient to shape the dull tips into rounded (or not so rounded) points.
Wax paper, (or paraffin, or even some softened bee’s wax) polishes the bamboo to silken smoothness.
A final touch is to paint the dolls head knob, and carefully add a number 8 or 5mm measure to the knob end of the needle shaft. I just mask the needle and spray paint them, but you could put an effort into hand painting the tops if you wanted.

Worst case, the set of needle cost $0.59, often a set cost a mere 25¢ --making them cheap enough to give away freely!
And every knitter has some small balls of yarn, to give away with the needles.

Perhaps you’ve thought about teaching knitting at your child school, or starting a knitting club as an after school project. These needles are perfect low cost way to get started.

These needles are also the perfect antidote to those people who demand, “Well, if you’re knitting, you can knit me…”

Just hand them a set of needles and yarn, and invite them to learn to knit for themselves!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Whimsy and Elfin

What can I say? More hats!

Elfin came first--an infant's hat, in Brown Machine Washable Wool (Mode Dea)

Followed by Whimsy--an adult hat.

Not the most conventional hats, but every once in a while, its fun to have wild and crazy hat. And Whimsy, for certain is a wild and crazy hat!

Whimsy was a refinement of Elfin, and made with the yarn every one loves to hate, (Red Heart!) --and used up every inch (but 15!) of an incomplete skein. I'll have to rumage through my stash and find something as riotous in color for a 'final version' .

Elfin was the First Draft (I alway make first drafts in miniture) Whimsy 99% the same, is a refinement of the design. The difference can only been seen on very close examination.

I actually have half a skein of OLD (i.e., 100%wool) Red Heart, in a very similar colorway, but I am sure its not enough yarnage for an adult hat.

Whimsy is likely to find a jingle bell attached at the tip, --perhaps a jingle bell nestled in a white pom pom, to mute the noise--but it does need something to finish it.

Elfin finished up the Mode Dea yarn I used for, Kevin Z's hat (no photo as of yet), and for the In the Pines Headband. (previous post)--It is intended for Kevin and Jill's soon to be born son.

Meanwhile, I have a pair of socks on needles now for the better part of a month, but as soon as I finish one hat, I compulsively start another. There is some knitting on my needles right now, that was supposed to be a scarf, but it keeps whispering to me, MAKE ME A HAT!

I am trying my hardest. If I do stick to my guns and make a scarf, you can be sure that there will be a hat to follow! Obviously, the scarf is not a conventional scarf, nor will the hat be a conventional hat!

Not yet blocked or photographed, is a remake of my Evening Star hat... with some subtle improvements--lest you think that I've only knit 2 hat in the past week!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Yarn Porn, Another hat, and a Pattern

On Friday, coming home from a friend’s, I stopped into a big box craft store.
(Living in a population dense area, there are several, (from several chains!) big box crafts stores with in local driving distance) --Mostly, I stopped because I wanted to use the facilities!

But once there, I walk around, to see what was new, or interesting.
Nothing new or interesting caught my eye. But something old did.
3 skeins of ARAUCANIA’s Quellon.
In the Clearance bin.
Marked down more than 75%!
...........--3 skeins for less than the price of a single skein!

The skeins looked a bit shopworn. But the colors were lovely.
And yes, Chenille is prone to worming,
and viscose (rayon) and cotton chenille is especially prone to worming...

But…see for yourself! 3 neat "cakes" of chenille!

If I take my time into consideration, they were very expensive skeins.
But since I currently have more time than money, time is a currency I am willing to spend!

And spend it, I did! I spent hours!
Over 1 hour per skein, untangle the yarn and winding them up.
There were worms in the hank, there were wormy tangles that knotted and twisted and defined me as I attempted to wind them into hanks, even after, in theory, all the tangles had been removed!

Still I am glad that I bought them.. I am still not sure what I am going to make from them-- 450 yards or so offers some options, but a limited number.

In the failing light of the late afternoon, I took a photo of yet another HAT.
The Charity Knitting Holiday hat, that I didn't have a photo of for the previous post.

(still to be photographed, the little elf hat! )

And, as promised, here is the pattern for the Fair Isle/Scandinavian style head band,
Pictured here, again.
In the Pines Headband

Finished size: 4 inches by 22 inches (apx)
............................(inner diameter is smaller)
Apx. 100 yard each Moss Green and Ivory worsted weight wool
Apx. 50 yards Coffee brown.
(I used Mode Dea’s Machine Washable Wool/colors Ivory, Moss and Coffee, but you can use any worsted weight yarn of choice)

Needles: US size 8 Circular needle/or US size 8 DPN
(or size needed to get gauge/ fabric is firm)
Gauge: (in Fair Isle)
26 rows =4 inches (10cm) 22 Stitches=4 inches (10cm)

Cast on, using your favorite provisional cast on, and Moss green yarn: 116 stitches.
Join into round, being careful not to twist.

Work in 1 X 1 ribbing for 23 rounds
Switch to stocking knit and work 2 rows. (25 rounds)
Drop moss green yarn, but do not cut.

Pick up white and coffee colored yarns.
Work in a Fair Isle: 2 stitches white, 2 stitches coffee brown (repeat for entire round)
Repeat first round (2 rounds in this pattern/rounds 26, 27)

Round 3, K2 stitches Coffee brown, 2 stitches of white
Work second row in this new pattern. (2 rounds in this pattern/Rounds 28,29)

At the end of round, M1,(invisibley) with white yarn. (117 stitches)
Cut brown yarn.
Work 1 round, plain white (round 30)

Work pattern (from Chart) there are 9 repeats of tree pattern.

NOTE 1: the number 6 on chart, in lower row, indicates 6 white stitches/ total chart is 13 stitches.
NOTE 2: there are long floats. You can leave them be.
(just keep them loose! )
Or you can twist the yarns together every 3 to 4 stitches to secure them.
The ribbing will “hide’ the inside of the work, and there will be no way for floats to be caught (on fingers or else where) so you can chose how you want to work (I twisted together as I worked.)

At the end of the last round of the charted pattern, K2tog,
(returning stitch count to 116)
(Tree pattern is 18 rounds/total rounds at completion of chart, 48)

Work 1 round, plain white. (round 49)

NOTE: There are a total of 20 rounds (plain round, 18 rounds from chart, plain round) for Tree element.

Drop, but do not cut Moss green yarn.
Pick up coffee brown yarn and work in Fair Isle Pattern:
*K2 with Brown, K2 with white. Repeat from * for round.
Repeat this round (2 rounds total in this pattern) (rounds 50/51)

Change Pattern.
*K2 with White yarn, K2 with Coffee Brown yarn.
Repeat from * for round.
Repeat this round. (2 round total in this pattern/ rounds 52,53)

Cut both white and brown yarns.
Pick up Moss green and work 2 round of green in stocking knit stitch.(rounds 54,55)

Before grafting, weave in all tails of yarns.

Cut a tail at least 2 yards long.
Graft (Kitchener) stitches from last round (needle) to cast on stitches,
undoing provisional cast on as you work.
(the grafted ‘round’ is round 56)

Finish by working 2 rows of backstitch outlining INNER (closer to Tree pattern) brown stitches, on both top and lower edge of head band.
Be sure to backstich loosely!

This tree pattern (chart) is adapted from Nicky Epstein's Knitting on the Edge the pattern/chart has been modified.

Monday, December 11, 2006

What is behind the hat obsession.

In 2003, a good friend, Tony C died.
For the next year, I was obsessed with knitting hat.

In 2004 I finally realized, TC LOVED to wear hats --he was famous for his hats.
He wore fedora's, and caps, and stetsons and berets. I don't think he ever met a hat he didn't like.

My obsession with hats was my way of mourning him.
(Curiously, when he was alive, I never knit him a hat. I did knit other things for him, but never a hat!)

In the years since, I realize, every year as the anniversary of his death approaches, I again become obsessed with hats.

I have a few more to show you.
First, a Baby hat in Lion Brand Jaime, a simple thing.
This is a charity hat (Saturday, my guild has a one of its two annual charity knit ins) and I'll bring this hat (and others) to the meeting.

Then there is another version of the Syncopated rhythm hat. This, too is a charity hat, (as is the mauve pink hat on previous blog entry, and the yellow hat from a few entries ago!)

Not seen is the simple striped watch cap that I gave to Kevin Z.
(I owed him.. He saved the day last month with his gift to me of a power supply)
I forgot to take a photo of it before I gave it to him, --but I did take a photo with his camera, and will post a photo one day soon. Its a pretty basic watch cap, with a few stripes, and neat decrease in the crown.

I also don't have a photo of the half done hat I started at a charity knitting meeting of my guild (a red and white one) , or the baby elf hat I made for a friend who is expecting her another child, her first son, any day now! (camera batteries are dead, and I don't have more this instant!)

In addition to hats, I have also knit a head band (a topless hat) fully lined, in a Fair Isle (Scandinavian style color work)

The Tree (spruce? hemlock?) pattern is adapted a design in Nicky Epsteins Knitting on the Edge.

Later this week, I’ll post directions on how to knit the Fair Isle (Scandinavian) headband.
(I am still working on the graph)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I can seem blunt

(This was supposed to be posted Monday, but in a continuing adventure with hardware/software, at first my camera refused to work, then the software to upload photo’s failed.. Obviously, both have been resolved.)
And sometimes, my bluntness comes across as hostile--it less likely to happen when I speak, but in written communications, with out the tone of voice, I know Iomes off as hard.

Take the stocking knit stitch.
Once in a newbie thread over on’s forums, I told it like it is:
Stocking knit stitch rolls.
.....You can block it flat, but stocking knit rolls
.....You can add borders, and they will help,
........but stocking knit will still roll.
.....It is the nature of stocking knit stitch to roll.

This is not a bad thing, it just is.
If you accept its nature, you’ll be a lot happier in your knitting.
If you accept its nature, you can learn to use it.

The newest entry in my obsessive hat collection (you should know, I almost never wear hats, I just design and knit them!) is my stocking knit/reverse stocking knit hat. The hat is pretty simple, I just let stocking knits nature (to roll) do most of work! The rolls make deep ridges and valleys, and they make most the design.

The Yarn Helps too!
On my way home from my Friday knitting group, I stop into Michael’s, (I had 50% coupons) and I was entranced by Paton’s SWS (soy wool stripes). I started the hat Friday evening. I finished the hat last night. (My socks (below) temporarily put aside) Self striping yarn is always fun to knit with, and this yarn is no exception. It is a gently spun single ply yarn, that felts even though it has 30% soysilk in the blend. The soy silk gives the yarn a softer, crisper hand, and a sily sheen. The stripes are good long runs -- at 35 stitches to the row, stripes lasted about 6 rows on average.

I was so pleased with how it worked up, that Saturday, when out on other errands, I forced myself to buy some more--I have been looking for something special for baby’s hat, and now I have it.

So here is a view of the hat on a ‘head’ - (this first image has the best color quality, even if it not the best view)

and one of the hat flat (folded on its side)

and another view of the hat folded so it sort of looks like a beret (or frisbie).

This hat took 2 balls (1 full ball yielded about 11 ridges/valley’s, the full hat is 13 ridges valleys..) so I still have most of the second skein left over. I think another few balls are in order, so a matching scarf or perhaps wristlets/fingerless gloves can be made.

This is not quite a pattern, but an general, generic directions to make a hat of a similar style.
This hat is knit flat and sewn into shape.
Cast on a number of stitches to equal 7 to 9 inches--the number to cast on depends on your yarn and gauge. (see finishing for details about which cast on to use!)
--in worsted weight, the number will be about 35 to 40 stitches--for other yarns, more or fewer
Work in Garter OR rows of Stocking knit/reverse stocking knit (4 to 6 rows) --scarf like.
(For this hat, I used 6 rows of stocking knit, then 6 rows of reverse stocking knit--but I have also made this hat, and this hat using garter stitch-)
AT THE SAME TIME, Increase 1 at one edge (cast on tail edge) and Decrease 1 at the other edge, EVERY OTHER ROW.
USE AN OPEN (yo) increase, and place it 1 stitch away from edge.

This will result in a diagonal scarf, about 7 to 9 inches wide, and 20 or inches long.
It will be shaped something like this:
Make the 'scarf' as long as your head is wide (circ 19 to 20 inches long (50cm give or take 5!))
--my hat is longer, (about 24 inches(55cm)) because I didn't want the stocking knit/reverse stocking knit ridges to open too much, (its feels loose on the head)--bonus, its less likely to cause hat hair (but its more likely to be blown off your head in heavy winds!)
Sew cast on edge to bind off edge (do this in middle of stocking knit ridge (so it get hidden)

(or be fancy, and use provisional cast on and graft!(as I did)
Then run a drawstring through YO/increases "holes" and gather up tight. (knot!)
MY hat was inspired by a hat I saw at NYKnit Out this year, (that hat was done in a fine Noro mohair)

And here are the newest socks on needle.

They are a rehash of the last sock --only all the issues have been resolved. A different sock yarn (this is Koigu) add interest, but doesn’t fight the lace pattern. A different cast on (this is channel Island cast on) adds a picot edge, with less effort than *the hemmed picot edge attempted last time. Worked in the same lace pattern as before--but now, after a half dozen repeats, I have learned the pattern. A much more successful set of socks is emerging.

*I have decided that I only like picot edges (the kind that are hemmed) when I end with them. They are fine for bind off edges, but not for cast on edges.

(and another hat (from some time last week..) that i forgot about.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

1, 2, 3 Strikes-- You’re Out

I don’t often frog.
I sometimes tink, but I don’t even do that often.
I tend to stop and check my work row by row, and catch mistakes before they have time to establish themselves.
But these socks are the exception.

.....1--The lace pattern is lost in the stripe.
.....2--There was a knot in the yarn, and the stripe pattern was ‘broken’.
.......I am not obsessive about have exactly perfect stripes, but I do
.......sort of like to have close to too, if not perfectly
.......identical socks.. A stripe pattern going wrong in the
.......first 3 inches of the knitting is not good.
.....3--And finally, last night , knitting, talking and eating chocolate chip cookies with walnuts (a special treat made just on Tuesday nights for the LICKnits Snb group) at Communitea Café , I managed to mess up the lace pattern.

I like the pattern (a fern lace)--even more than the yarn.. So for now, these socks are going to be frogged.. And new stocks started --with some pale blue Koigu--a yarn that will better show the lace. And this striped yarn will have to wait its turn.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Its raining gumdrops…

Or something like that.
Almost 2 weeks to the hour, I finished my gumdrop socks.

I experimented with the heel shaping, and while its not perfect, it does hold possibilities.
To begin: the gusset is simple reversed.
After turning the heel, I counted out 30 stitches (½ of the total) and placed markers.
I started the gusset at this point. (Next time, I will start the gusset at the base of the flap!)
I worked the gusset in reverse, sloping it towards the instep.
At some point, the total stitch count was approaching original stitch count (60stitches total) Then I started to increase in center of underside of the sock (sole) (2 stitches every other row) At the same time I continued to decrease 2 stitches every other row (normal gusset.)

see the details here.

Stop and Think
If you’ve ever knit a pattern (feather and fan, chevrons of any sort, old shale) you know,
INCREASES tend to make your knitting curve outward or upward. And decreases do the opposite, curving the stitches downward or inward.
The same thing happened on the sock.. The underside (sole) had upward (it seemed longer) curve, and the instep (where the line of decreases of the gusset extended) began had in a downward curve.. (and the knitting seemed shorter)
Now, if like me, you regularly try socks in progress on to check the fit. You know that normally, no matter what heel you use, the underside of the sock always seems shorter that the upper (instep side)

the red line indicates how a sock with a conventional gusset tends to fit (an inch or so into foot)

Wait.. That might not be true for you unless you have a high instep. (I do!)
Well the pattern of increases at sole and decreases at instep resulted in the lower part of the sock looking longer on the needles, but fitting perfectly on the foot.

Some thing like the blue line.

Well, actually not perfectly, but much better than a normally shaped gusset does.
A second feature of this shaping is; eventually you stop. And for some rows after, there is a bit of bulge. This could be a defect, but since I have duck feet, (narrow heel, very wide at ball of foot) the bulge created a bit of ease just where it was needed!
The sock fits tight on instep and arch, and then it fits tight on the ball of the foot, too!

The toe is a square toe.. (an inverted French/flat toe) it seemed like the thing to do, to have an inverted toe with an inverted gusset.

I am going to continue to experiment with inverted gussets and shaped soles and insteps. Not in my very next pair, but soon.

Friday, November 17, 2006

My Obsession with Hats Continues.

This blue one is pretty simple. And the so is the baby hat that didn’t photograph well--
Two experimental hats didn’t work, and were frogged back to nothingness.

There are other idea’s for more hats that are still fermenting. And some prototypes are being reknit, with minor refinements.
Most of the hats are documents, (that is patterns have been written, proofed, corrected and retested.)
Just as with socks, I am always experimenting.
I still haven’t finished the socks I started more than a week ago. I admire Stephanie (aka the yarn harlot) goal of a sock a day, but I know I would not be able to sustain it. I have knit a pair of socks in as few as 3 day, (OK, so its not a sock a day, but then, she’s half a day behind, too)

But I rarely knit kid socks, and rarer still do I knit plain socks. Even my plainest socks usually have some interesting detail at the cuff, the heel or the toe. I almost never knit a duplicate pair of socks, and finally I often take notes, and document my designs.
I love the look of hand dyed yarns in the skein, but I tend to dislike how they knit up. I seen lovely hanks of Koigu, and Lorna Laces, and other yarns. But I’ve never seen a pair of socks knit with these yarns that I really admire, let alone coveted.

I tend to gravitate to solid color sock yarn, or self striping yarn. And with solid yarn, I like interesting stitch patterns -- and I am always trying out new heels, or toes, or cast ons. My latest sock were inspired by images of socks in the Fall Vogue Knitting.

I liked reading about the shaped (arched) sole that Meg Swanson knit, based on one of her mother’s (EZ) designs, and the Cat Borhdi socks with the interesting gusset shaping.
My “It’s raining gumdrops” sock are knit in Stahl sche Wolle “Socka 50” a generous gift from Barbara (aka KnitNerd) who hated the color. The stitch pattern is one from the Big Book of Stitches (Sterling Publications) --where its called the Acorn stitch (page 205 I think, but I could be wrong) It does look like an acorn in brown, but in hot pink, I think it looks more like gumdrops, (Or better still, a soon to be available, seasonal favorite, spice drops! Oh I love spice drops!)

The gusset is inverted, and the gusset decreases continue into the instep (similar to the sock Cat Bordhi designed). In addition, there are increases on the bottom of the sole. (just as in multi color socks designed by Meg Swanson), that shape the underside of the socks.
My design, while not quite perfect, uses both of these innovations.
I know I am going to continue experimenting with designs that use both these features, working to make them easier to knit, and more attractive.

I definitely like the way these changes improve the fit.
The shaping not only wraps the sock around the foot, and especially helps it cling to the underside of the foot, but the sole of the foot ends up being longer (because of the increases, and the instep ends up being shorter, (because of the decreases) this results in less bunching at the point where the front of the ankle turns (from being vertical to horizontal.)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Last month, it was soft ware...

This month, it’s hardware.

And it knocked me total out--my computer was a dead as a door nail.
Still, it was simple enough to resolve--I guessed, rightly, it was just a bad power supply.

There is silver lining’s, too. First a great big thanks to Kevin Z--I mentioned my woes, and he came up with a spare power supply he just happened to have on hand. More than the $$ (power supply’s run about 30 bucks) it was the overwhelming generosity and convenience! (Sometime somewhere, I must have done something good--I don't know where or when, but I must have. Why else do I have the most kind and giving friends?)

Once the PC was apart, I also installed my fire wire card--that’s been sitting on my computer desk since late August waiting to be installed.

I got a used digital Sony camcorder in late July, and my thoughts were, if I had a firewire, I could make small digital video clips on techniques.

Why not? I have the technical skills, a tripod and camera--what more do I need? (Some indirect lighting? I am a wiz at lighting!) --Oh, yeah, I need memory.

I do still need to beef up my memory--but Circuit City is across the street, and black Friday is rapidly approaching.. I don’t get to sleep in on black Friday. As mentioned, Circuit City (Sears, Marshall's, etc) is in the mall across the street, and last year, the traffic jams at 6:00 had police cars (and siren) managing (or perhaps mismanaging) the traffic. This year, I’ll get up early and be first in line for what every brand of memory chip they are giving away as a door buster.

Then I just have to do it! Anne Modisett is good inspiration, she’s been peppering her blog with You Tube clips for the past few weeks.

I’m not (as I am sure you have noticed!) the world best photographer but with time, and repeated do overs, I suspect I can get something together.

I have done training manuals, using power point, with video and text.. But usually, even if I storyboarded what was to be done, someone else was behind the camera. And someone else did all the tedious editing.

I took a picture of the old power supply, but with so much to catch up, a photo will have to wait.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Waffling on making swatches

If you teach, or just want to be happy with your knitting, its an article of faith,
Except… I don’t--well I do most times, but sometimes… I waffle.
Waffle-- a combination of rib and garter-- is wonder full stitch. Its compresses in length, and in width.. (and its stretches in length and width!)

It’s a great stitch pattern for knitting swatch-less socks.
These socks-- Austermann’s sock yarn with Jojoba and Aloe Vera in the yarn--are knit at 9 stitch to the inch gauge, on size 2(US) but even if they were knitter looser or tighter, they would still be a one size fits most sock.

The toe up sock with a identical heel--is not a short row toe and heel, but my own unvention. It’s the style I’ll be teaching tomorrow and again on December 1st at
The Villiage Knitter in Babylon, LI.
It’s a small shop, but Karen has a knack for packing it full of wonderful yarns, (with a dozen types of sock yarn to chose from, in rich pallette of colors!)
I finished this pair Tuesday, and now have started on a new pair of socks, for me, that I am calling, for now at least, “it’s raining cherry gumdrops” . I am also watching The Yarn Harlot’s progress with Lisa Grossman’s pattern “Kitri” (for vanCalcar yarns).

Lisa is another Babylon knitter--and her sock designs are amazing!

I’ll be teaching socks again in the new year, and would love to teach a class on my obsession, Cast On’s. If you’re interested, in a sock class or in a class to learn Cast On’s let Karen know.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Halloween Horrors

Some day, I might be too old for Halloween.
But not yet, even, if I do dress up as Old Knitty Biddy.

My son warned me that their camera was broken, so I might not get Halloween pictures of the grandchildren right away but my DD, the Victorian Ghoul looks delightfully dead in this shot.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Bookcases and breakfast foods

As September grew to a close, we (family and friends) played a game of musical chairs or rather musical furnature. (bookcases mostly)
Jen’s (my DD close friend) mother was moving, and her new place didn’t have room for the oversized golden oak bookcases the were first build for my X (who also didn’t have room for them when he married & moved)
So the bookcases went to live my DD, who now has her own apartment, and just barely enough room for them.(they are really big!)

This made the pecan wood bookcase she inherited from her grandparents superfluous.
So it moved in with me.
(Chairs, tables, miscellaneous kitchenware and other items also played this game of musical furniture.. Some items ended up losers. But all the player ended up happy!)
The first thing I did to the bookcase was add light (I am somewhat of a fanatic about lighting.) First some low voltage halogens on top-these add a nice white light in what was a previously a dark corner of my living room.
Then a set of hockey pucks lights behind the slightly arabesque front molding. These, too, are low voltage halogens.
On the lowest open shelf, some almost flat stick up LED’ biscuits lights.
These are less than ¼ inch thick!
The middle shelves are actually being used as book shelves, instead of display space, and don’t have any added lighting. There is enough generak light available from the low voltage up lights and hockey puck lights on the top shelf to make it easy to read the titles.
Right now, its holding an mélange, rather than a collection.. But I have at long last been able to unpack the last of my books!

Why didn’t any tell me this?
I love oatmeal for breakfast. But I am somewhat picky. I like my oatmeal chewy. I dislike the mushiness of rolled oats (and hate the especially soft mushiness Instant Rolled Oats-- which I think are an abomination!)
Eons ago, I discovered Elam’s Steel Cut Oatmeal. If this brand still exist, it no longer has a wide distribution in NYC. But there are other brands. At some point, I switched over to McCann’s Irish Oatmeal which comes in lovely tins. But you pay a premium for those tins and for imported oatmeal. Over the years, I have recycled the tins. But still, I want oatmeal, not tins.
Recently my local stores have provided me with Bob’s Red Mill steel cut oats and Quaker steel cut oats (this is a new product for Quaker Oats) --while both are a finer cut than the McCann’s or the Elam’s, they are both quite tasty.
A disadvantage to steel cut oatmeal for breakfast is cooking time.
McCann’s suggests 30 minutes (with frequent stirring) or cooking longer (almost 1 hour!) over a double boiler (no stirring required). That’s a lot of time for a breakfast food.
Bob’s Red Mill and the Quaker oats (cut a bit finer,) cook a bit quicker-- and ONLY require 20 to 25 minutes. Again, 20 to 25 minutes of standing by and stirring.-allow extra time if you want to use a double boiler method and skip the stirring.
Then I learned you can cheat!
Measure out the oat and water into the pot the night before. Cover and let soak.
In the morning, you can cook the oats, with minimal stirring, over very low heat for 10 to 15 minutes.
It’s still a longer cooking time than rolled oat mush-but not much longer and there is very little effort involved.
If you haven’t ever tried steel cut (vs. rolled) oat, do. Think about trying any of these brands, (or what ever brands of steel cut oats you can find locally) and using the over night soak and quick cooking method.
Steel cut oatmeal also make a great bread (see Joy of Cooking) and can be ground into a coarse flour to make oatmeal cookies. (I use my food processor)

Monday, October 30, 2006

Thing are working again on the computer front

You might’ve thought that a duo of computer problems (a nasty virus and intermittent modem) would have freed up time for knitting. You might’ve I would have had my most productive month ever.
Well you’d have wrong!-- Oops, make that I am wrong, wrong, wrong!

I was reminded, as I began to take and save pictures of the things I remembered knitting, that there were many things I totally forget about! --And realized I sent a pair of tube socks off to my grandson with no photo record.

Now they were just plain baby blue tubes socks, in a 1 X 1 ribbing -worked on size 1 needles.. But.. Well, one of the reasons I started my albums on photo bucket was to avoid just this--knitting, gifting the knitting and totally forgetting about what I have knit!

So what did I knit in the month of Soctober?
1 pair of KnitPick (simple stripes/snapdragon) socks completed

and my funky socks (more on them below)
and a pair of primary color striped Regia socks! (these I total forgot!)

With the baby tube socks, this makes 4 pair of socks in the month of Soctober.

(and I have yet another pair about 1/3 done on needles. I don’t think I’ll finish these before tomorrow midnight. But…

These sock are samples for the class I'll be teaching at The Village Knitter--more on that in my next post.

The Funky Socks...
Early this summer, Pianogirl, (Knitters Review), had a stash buster, and shared (gave away!) lovely yarns to anyone who was interested. I didn’t take all of the cream (I passed on Kid silk mohair!) but I greedily pick out lovely sock yarns. To feel less guilty about plundering her stash, I gave her a pair of hand knit socks--the Kroy Chroma socks.

What I got in return was: 2 matching skeins of Koigu,(still waiting to be knit up) a single skein of ArtYarns superwash Merino in sockweight, and Louis Sales Gem Opal yarns. As well as some skeins of Classic Elite’s “Beatrice” (this will turn into something for my granddaughter Beatrice) and other wonderful skeins.

Pianogirl collected a lot of single balls/skeins and single skeins, and several of the skeins were the same yarn in different colors. This presented a challenge. I didn’t think a single skein of the Open was quite enough for pair of socks, but 3 different colors are too much.

The result was these fun and funky socks. They have been called Muchkin socks, and Umpa Lumpa socks, and other various names.. They are not everyday socks for sure!
The Stripes are intentional offset; one sock starts with orange, the other with yellow, and foot of the sock is matched to the starting stripe.

The top (cuff/leg) were knit flat, with the green braided cable as intarsia stripe on the edge. When the leg was completed, the sock was joined into a round for heel flap and turning. The same fern green of the cable was used to make the heels and toes.

The cable ended at the turning, and change of gauge (from cable to stocking) gave the turning a bit of extra ease.

LS Opal is light/medium weight yarn--on size 3 needles the tight gauge was still short of 8 stitches per inch. (these socks are going to be gifted this holiday)

Wait there is more--
A got a hat knit, too, (I love knitting hats!)-- Make that 2 hats --(I forgot about the first one I knit, early in the month!)
This little jewel box is made from Lamb’s Pride super wool, (worsted weight) and Juwel (a DK weight yarn)-a sports weight super wash.
The Juwel was worked twinned knitting style, (I don’t much like it when colors pool) The crown is has a star like 5 point decrease pattern. The tails of yarn make the double chain stitch for the tassel.

I also made a golden spiral hat for charity--it’s a mystery blend yarn. A simple garter stitch worked on the bias (Blogger just doesn't want you to see it!)

Last and far from least, a silk (Habu silk!) garter belt in a double ruffle pattern for wedding shower I am attending tomorrow!

And that’s it! A month of knitting --and a good reminder to myself to photo record my work--even if I can’t get it uploaded! Its not a huge amount of knitting--but it is almost twice as much as I first thought!

What's more, I did a presentation at my guild meeting, went to Rhinebeck (Saturday), bought some tools and equipement, (WPI tool, a Winder, and an I-cord machine) --more on all these in my next post!