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)