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)