Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Needles, Needles

Way too often, on knitting BB’s, there is a discussion of which needle is best.
Inevitably, the person posing the question, acts as if there were only one or two choices
(Which is best, bamboo or addis? ) I also bristle at the idea that there is one best--as if all knitters could agree on something as personal as the choice we make when it comes to our tools.

I have lots of needle, made from lots of different materials, some less than a year old, some, several decades old! and several different systems for storing them!
I know what I like, when it comes to needles, but I certainly don't what is best!

You love them, but how in blazes do you store them?
Here’s an idea-- this 6 pocket folding case has 4 X 6 inch pockets, designed to hold photo’s but it works perfect for circulars. (I have the Tsock Tsarina to thank for this idea!)

I have just have the one, (I use it for my small/sock needles) I have been thinking about buying a few more--but in the meanwhile, I made do.
It is nice that I can set up a pocket a piece for size 0’s, (2mm) size 1’s, (2.25,) 1.5’s (2.5) 2’s (2.75) and 3’s (3.25’s) since these sizes are sometimes hard to tell at a glance (Sure I can tell a size 0 from a size 3, but not always a size 2.25mm from a 2.5mm one!)

The rest of my circ’s are in a small zippered ‘project bag’. Most but not all, in there original packaging. The gold tube is a recycled M &M’s container, that hold crochet hooks of various sizes
I have a large selection of circ's, mostly mid length (29 to 32 inches long) and most Susan Bates or Boye aluminum, but i have some ‘antique’ ones with metal cables instead of nylon cords--see a detail here
and some totally nylon needles, a old set of Boye’s balenes--(not pictured)

The sizes range from US size 0's to US size 15's --note the price on this circular needle (one of the oldest circ’s I own!)

Straights and DPN’s
Both my straight needles and the DPN’s are stored in cans.. (recycled cookie tins, painted to look a bit nicer.)
Most of my straight needles are aluminum, (I love them!) but some are wood, others bamboo, a mix of short (9 to 10 inches and 14to 15 inches.. Every size from 0’s to 15’s, with lots of duplicates when it comes to size 6, 7, and 8!

Look at these old DPN’s--60 to 75¢ cents for the sets!

I lost needles along the way too, here is a mixed set of size 1’s, (note 3 are lilac, 2 are silver)
Each started out as a set of 4 DPN's.
They are not the only set I have like that!-- and look at the packaging--those are old needles, too. But then I am not exactly a spring chicken, and I have been knitting for a lot of years!--My oldest needles tend to be smaller, since I really like fine knitting, and always did!
I have DPN’s in several lengths too, and different material,

Here, Bamboo, (long!) Bronze, (medium) Aluminum (long again) and Birch, (short!) --again, mostly smaller diameters (US sizes 3’s and 4’s)

I can’t find (it's hiding somewhere) the size 6 aluminum needles I deformed --(I was under a lot of stress, and took it out on my needles and knitting) But I will, and post a picture when I do!
It is amazing just how many needles I own, and the variety of materials they are made from, especially when you consider, I don't any made from rare or exotic materials (like bone or ivory)

Monday, January 29, 2007

Progress and Wonderful Soup Recipe

A complete repeat of the chart has been knit.. And it’s looking good!
This image show an important detail of the pattern.

The diamonds are made up from a pair of fibonocci numbers, in this case, 5 and 8.
There are 8 right leaning chains, and 5 left leaning chains.

The left leaning chains are made from a set double twisted stitches, and the right leaning chain of a single set of twisted stitches.

In some place, this results in 3 twists in a row, (a double set of left leaning, and a single right leaning chain. But when the chains actually cross (the center of the X) there are only 2 twisted stitches. Learning (understanding) when there are only 2, and when there are 3 is the only hard part to the pattern.
(And it looks a whole lot better than my previous attempt!)

I left a window open yesterday, so I woke to a chilly morning; my solution is soup. I am going to be making a big pot of onion soup.. Not French onion soup, (that I also like) but my fusion style onion soup.

Its half oriental, half western. The soup is the basis for my “Fusion Chicken”
The soup is general meat free, but made with chicken broth.
I suppose if you wanted a vegetarian version, you could substitute vegetable broth, (or just use water) It’s pretty low fat, but very flavorful, (and cheap to make too!)

Fusion Onion Soup/Fusion Chicken

3 lbs. of onions, thinly sliced--I use yellow onions, but white onions would work.
Crystallized ginger*(slivered) (2 to 3 large slices)
Juice of 1 lemon (2 tablespoons)
1 can of chicken broth (14 to 15 ounce can)
+ 1 can of water (and a bit more)
2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
Black pepper (to taste)
(6 to 8 chicken cutlets)

In a large, deep fry pan (or dutch oven) begin to cook onions over low heat.
The onions should exude their juice, (and become soupy) not brown. (This called 'sweating'!)

Continue cooking with out stirring, till all onion liquid begins to dry up.
At this point onions will begin to brown.
Stir ever 10 minutes or so, as needed, till onions begin to get darker (dark brown) then, stir more frequently.
The volume of onions will have been reduced to about 1 cup of solids.

At this point add the ginger, (sugar bits and all) and continue sautéing.
Onions will become mahogany black, they will be dry, almost crisp, and be less than a cup in volume (from starting, to this point, might take about 1½ to 2 hours)

Add liquids, and some black pepper (to taste)
Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the onions will have re-hydrated. Add more water to bring volume back up to about 1 quart.
The onions will be tender and limp- and will returned to a golden brown color, the broth will be very dark brown.

(If you want Fusion Chicken, you can poach the chicken breasts in the soup at this point.
--but I don't always. I also use the soup as a gravy for grilled chicken breasts.)

Check the seasoning. Add salt, or more soy sauce, if needed or desired. I think the soy sauce provides enough salt. (If the onions were very sweet, and the soup is too sweet, add more lemon juice.)
Soup is done

For Fusion Chicken
If you have poached chicken in the soup, remove and set aside.
Pour some (or all) of the liquid/onion mixture into a blender, and puree for a few seconds.
(or if you have one, puree with an immersion blender)
You can puree all of it, or most of it. You can return mixture to pan and slightly thicken with a corn starch and water mixture, if desired, (I like the gravy ‘souper’ and don’t thicken it)
Serve chicken and ‘gravy’ over rice or fine noodles, with bright colored vegetables; whole baby carrots, fresh snow peas, lightly steamed broccoli, or other vegetable of your choice. I like the contrast of White rice, black gravy, and bright vegetables on the plate. The flavors are good too, the ginger, lemon and soy sauce are a great blend with onions.

Traditional French onion soup is made in a very similar way, (sans ginger, soy, and lemon) with beef broth (not chicken) and then served with toasted bread and cheese.

It is common to add a scant teaspoon of sugar to finish caramelizing the onions, too, with French onion soup. ( French onion soup would also require salt!)

*I use sliced crystallized ginger (found in with baking goods and dried fruit)
I use several large slices. Crystallized ginger is much milder than fresh ginger, so don’t be afraid to use a lot. You can also use crystallized ginger from spice section (these are small nuggets of ginger, not slices) but they are much more expensive!

You could also use a small knob of fresh ginger, slivered, and a scant teaspoon of sugar. The sugar really helps with the final carmelization of the onions.

Fresh ginger has a sharper, more pronounced flavor-- don’t use to much or it will over power the onions!
This recipe freezes and doubles very well.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

I Messed Up.

I started and then messed up the Pryllotaxis scarf from Knitting Nature, by Norah Gaughan)

Mine own fault, since I tend to treat patterns as guidelines.
I changed a number of things, first the yarn, second I decided to close the bottom, third, I simple decided, (with out any really thought!) that I didn’t need to start on smaller needles and change to larger ones when I started the pattern.
Well, pride goeth before the fall-- the result was a mess.

The cable pattern is pretty easy once you get it established, but a mistake in an early round--before I understood the pattern-- wasn’t going away, it was just getting worse, and combined with the my two mistaken assumptions, (that I could knit it with a closed end, and that I didn't need to start on smaller needles and switch to larger ones), it just wasn’t working.
It will be easier this time, since I have a better understanding of the pattern now. I don't know it perfectly, but it is a very easy pattern to learn, and it does flow.

There are things I don’t like about the pattern, (none of which aren’t Norah's fault)
First there is only a chart! I prefer written directions.
(I suspect this was an editing choice, since many of the patterns do have written line by line directions)
Second, the scarf in the photo is upside down.
(the photo image is the inverse of the chart!)
For a visual knitter like me, this is horrid.. But again, I doubt Sarah had control over the photo shoot.
Third, I wanted to work as a flattened tube,
and the pattern doesn’t really work well that way.
Well, this is nothing but my pig-headness!

On the other hand, the pattern does works very well if you knit it as written--I know this since I have started it again, and I am being more compliant.

One major complaint, the chart is presented as a parallelogram--
This means, if you add 4 markers, (Beginning of round, between stitch 20 and 21; 40 and 41, and 60 and 61, (that is, one marker every 20 stitches for a 80 stitch pattern) the markers have to reposition every other row, since R1 of chart starts with Stitch 1, but R3 starts with stitch 2, and R5 with stitch 3, and so on.

Now it does make sense for the chart to 'move' this way, but it also makes it a pain.

The chart moves organically, and its not too hard to follow once you get the hang of it, but the design makes it hard to keep track of where you are until you do.
There are stitch numbers on the bottom of the chart--but because of the offset, the numbers really only work for R’s 1 and 2. To keep track of where you are, a zig zag line is needed--or moving markers! and one of the markers fall in the middle of a set of twisted stitches-- (that marker was retired pretty early!)

A simple solution, is to copy the chart and add a high lighted zig zag line indicating where stitch 20 (or 40, or 60) is on any given row.

What makes this difficult is, the chart is way too close to binding. It is hard to copy/enlarge with out damaging the spine of the book.

Don't you think that all charts should be positioned at the outer margins of the page, not close to bound edge? I am sure the art director in charge of the publication is pleased with the lay out of the page--but really--did she think was a coffee table book? or work book? (

The obvious answer, is a coffee table book. Beautiful lay out, but not always practical!

Finding a working copier that is designed to cope with copying pages with out breaking the spine of book is just another added challenge/annoyance!

When you do, you first have to copy the chart then copy the copy or else the enlarged chart runs off the page.

Those knitters who have ready access to copiers (and free copies) at work might not mind the extra work, but its annoying when you pay per page.

I wish every knitting book came with a CD of charts and details in a pocket in the back of the book.. Then I could just open a file, and print it. (changing the font/paper layout as I pleased!)
The photo, (a nice clear photo, beautifully shot, with good clear stitch defination!) is well---AAUUGH! The part of the scarf that is hanging down, the 'visual reference' ISN'T!.

The pattern is a one way pattern, and the peice of the scarf hanging there, looking good, is the bound off edge, not the cast on edge. So it's upside down, in reference to the chart. It is just about useless as reference!

I haven’t blog this past week, because I have been busy knitting my socks for swap.
I finished them last night, and will send them off to Polargrrlpurl tomorrow or Tuesday, and then blog all about them. I am thrilled with them.. They worked up even better than I hoped.

(I don’t care when Jenn gets her socks to me.. I am not anal about her behavior, only mine, and I needed to get them done, so I wouldn’t go crazy--she has another 30 days!)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Sock Swap

I have been knitting, um, for more than of 45 years. (I persist in telling people I am 47)

For most of those years, I knit alone. My mother, my aunts (maternal and paternal) knit, my MIL knit. But I never once got together with them to knit, and rarely knit with them. Knitting was a largely a solitary activity.
Bella, the only person I could describe as knitting friend, was old enough to be my grandmother when I met her, and I was just out of my teens.

For most of my life, I have had very few friends who knit. I certainly never had a network of friends who knit.

This changed some 6 years ago, thanks to my DIL. (Sonya of KnitSonya). She introduced me to the online knitting community.
I had, by that time, a network of friends (real and cyber) who shared other interests, but, I had, for no rational reason, never thought about cyber knitting networks.

Since then, I have found knitting guilds, SnB groups, Meet-up groups, and knitting circles. I have met wonderful knitters, and friends.

And slowly I have made swaps with others I have met on line. My first swap, was unfortunately, a bad one, --and I was put off the idea of swapping for a long while.

But, my basic optimism won out, and since then, I have been lucky --and found swap partners who are wonderful--I swapped some bamboo needles I hated, for Addis, that I love, and sock yarn that was , (to mea at least) ho-hum for sock yarn that was WOW. (and the best part of that swap was, my swap partner felt the same!)

The Knitty.com coffeeshop has secret pals and random acts of kindness exchanges all the time. I usually don’t participate--I know me, and I know, I am always late getting package mailed, and well, I would be a bad partner! I would eventually get stuff mailed, but late can be disappointing.
But I entered into a sock swap.

Socks are easy to mail (they fit readily into tyvec envelope mailers, and are light enough that they can be dropped into a street box, and don’t have to be taken to the post office to mail--since you know, if you start with 100 grams of yarn, and have none left, the package must weigh 100 grams!

So I have a sock swap partner --and I have started socks for her. (I will not speak of the December socks, that I still haven't finished knitting)

Like the baby sweater, I am only going to hint at the details of the socks I am knitting for Polargrrl--She has to be the, (to my way of thinking) the first to see the completed socks.
Well that's not quite true, since some of the knitting friends, are also real life friends, and they will see them first--but I am not going to photograph or blog about them, in detail.

I am knitting them 2 on 2, of course, since, now days, I always knit 2 on 2.
These are 2 on 2 size 2 needles.

They are blue.. Well, bluish. Well, blue cuffs.

Top down, and almost certainly with a flap (but not a heel stitch flap) and turned heel, (but not a round heel) and ribbed. Not a conventional rib, not even a rib that looks like a rib. But ribbed because ribbing, with all its stretchiness, creates a much better chance for the socks to fit comfortably.
The toe style is still undecided. As of noon today, I have 5 inches knit.
Now it might seem I have said an awful lot about the socks, but...
The Tsarina of Tsocks was kind enough to post a picture of Aaron Z the other day, wearing this hat I made for him:

It looks better on Aaron than it does just sitting here.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Is there such a thing as bad knitting?

I am not a yarn snob.

I don’t like every yarn, and I haven’t knit with every yarn, but I am willing to try almost any yarns.

I love wools, (especially soft ones). Alpaca and other luxury fibers are nice, but many are too warm for me. And some lack the sproing of wool.
But I like cotton yarn, and it has no sproing at all!

I don’t look down my nose on acrylics, I showcase my Red Heart creations side by side with items knit with 100% merino, (hand painted merino at that!).
My stash has all sorts of yarns; wools, and alpacas, angoras, mohairs, silks, cottons, bamboos, soys, in single fiber skeins and assorted blends.
I like novelty yarns too.. Just for the novelty.

I’ve made lots of ‘style’ (not warmth) scarves from novelty yarns. They are pretty.

I like knitting them and wearing them. Ribbon yarn and ladder yarn, and fancy boucles are fun for accessories.

I like novelty yarns for trim, too. Just look at this cute Thistle Hat.
It wouldn’t be the same with the soft ruff of purple fun fur.
And it certainly wouldn't look like a thistle in bloom.
(We like thistles in our family, and like the Scot's, think them to be flowers, not weeds)

Novelty yarns are wonderful, but well, like any novelty, best in moderation.

Which bring me to the ugliest knitted thing I have seen in a long time, (if not the ugliest thing ever)

This is what happens when knitting goes bad.

It has not 1, not 2, but 3 different novelty yarns, (styles) and several colors of each style. The bulky yarns (for the most part chunky yarn doubled!) that make up the base come in different colors too. The blue (ish) border is one color at upper sides, (square end) and a different color at the bottom, (curved end). And a third color across the top --in each case, the 'color' is created by the addition of a novelty fur/eyelash type yarn.
It is wide, (could be useful), but short (I guess it is intended for the matronly petite!)
It weighs a ton.

I have to wonder at the person who knit this.
Did they really think it looked good? Even if every yarn was bought on sale (even clearance), there is a lot of yarn in this … monstrosity.

(and I wonder, still more, at the person who bought and thought it was a good idea for a christmas gift)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

What is your favorite stitch?

Every once in a while, on a knitting BB, someone will post the question:
What is your favorite stitch?

For me, the answer is always changing!
I love slip stitches, and lace, and edging and… well, the truth is, I don’t have 1 favorite stitch.
Still the list of favorites isn't endless either!

One stitch that makes the list, is a rather simple, but very interesting stitch:
The Continuous Cross or ‘Chain stitch’

This stitch results in a raised, horizontal chain. It's not that hard to do, though you do have to take a bit of care since it is easy to work it too loose
--and just to be persnickety, when worked too tight, it restricts the nature stretch of knit fabric.

Still it's not so hard that most knitters can’t get the tension right after a few tries.
Here are 2 examples of finished objects that made use of the stitch.

On the left, a small purse, on the right, a throw pillow back.

The Continuous Cross or Chain Stitch
This stitch is similar to a simple ‘crossed’ stitch, which is really just a simple 2 stitch cable-one that is worked with out a cable needle, by working stitches, while still on the needle, out of order.
This stitch can be worked over any number of stitches, straight or in the round.
It creates a horizontal ‘chain’ across the front of your knitting. It's surprisingly stretchy, and very decorative.
Foundation row-Purl (or some rows of stocking knit stitch)
Row 1: K2 (selvage) then, Make 1 by picking up the bar between the last stitch knit and next stitch, twist it, and place on LEFT needle.
(this is a pretty standard style of Make1) This new stitch is the C stitch.

Make a crossed stitch—(2 stitch cable)
Knit into second stitch on left hand needle (going through back loop), then knit the C stitch, then let both stitches drop off needle
(this is standard cross stitch)

**Move the C stitch (the last stitch on RIGHT needle), back onto LEFT needle, and make crossed stitch, again.
Repeat from ** across row till 2 stitches remain.

The C stitch will cross (continuously cross) every stitch in the row, creating a horizontal ‘chain’.

When 2 stitches remain, DO NOT move the C stitch to left needle
Knit the next stitch, pass the C stitch over that stitch—in a standard ‘bind off’ style.
(this ‘binds off' the C stitch and returns stitch count to original number.)
Knit the last stitch.
Row 2 to X: stocking knit stitch, (purl/even numbered rows, Knit/odd numbered rows.)

This stitch can be done in round—just eliminate the 2 selvage stitches at either end of row.

Make 1 as first stitch, at beginning of round marker.
At the end of the round, ‘bind off’ the C stitch onto the Make 1.

This stitch looks great on socks, but practice it first, since it is especially important to have it stretchy if used in a sock!

You might also think about how to position the C stitch on the left needle.
You'll find it a bit easier to work if the C stitch if, when returning it to the left needle, you mount it backwards, and knit into the back loop.
The backwards mount, combined with knitting into the back loop will result in a NON-TWISTED stitch, and will be easier to knit.

This cross stitch looks best IM(NS)HO when done in rows separated by 1 inch or so of stocking knit.

But, I also have used it, combined with Latvian type braiding, to create an interesting texure--as seen here, where you can see the front (and solid colored back) of throw pillow cover when under construction.
A reminder: stitch patterns, like recipes, can't be copyrighted, but the exact wording of the directions can be, and are. You can use these directions to create your own designs.
But you can not reprint or reproduce these directions, as written, in patterns you might write, with out express permission.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Well, I did it again. Knit something, and gave it away before I photographed it!

It’s nothing special.. The most basic hat, (cast on 10 inches, work 1 inch of ribbing, 12 inches of stocking knit, 1 inch of ribbing, bind off. Fold in half, and sew 2 sides seams.

A rectangle of knitting, with a bit of ribbing--my DD only want the simples of things, (her other request, is for a very simple sweater, in super fine (fingering gauge) cashmere, please, with argyles.) I haven’t (nor do I plan to) knit that!

Well, I’ll get a photo next week--I can’t this week because early this morning (I left the house at 5:30 AM) I took her to the airport (she’s off to parts far away for a week’s vacation)

Also finished, Aaron’s baby sweater--complete with a close up of the cute buttons I ended up with.

And Aaron!
Here he, is in a sockless Tsock Tsarina(better photo’s of Aaron can be seen on her blog.)
Next on my knit list is:

The Phyllotaxis Scarf from Knitting Nature, (Norah Gaughan)--page 112.
This is part of my on again/off again obsession for mathematical knitting.

And socks! I have to finish the pair I have on needles, and start a pair for the sock swap I am doing with the Knitty crowd-- and Knit Nerd (aka Barbara V) gave me a lovely ball of yarn.. And there is the yarn from Lisa, and…

Yesterday was the annual yarn auction at the BAKG.. I only spent $12--but that’s a lot more yarn in my stash! Mostly wools, lots of single balls, in a variety of shades from white to almond blossom, to wheat, and darker, and some dusty pastel pinks and corals. (about a dozen in total) Plus 2 cones of a lace weight mohair/synthetic blend, in a smoky amethyst color. The wools will work up into hats for the most part unless I get inspired to make a afghan.

I doubt I can convince myself to knit another afghan. My apartment is always too hot. I live on an upper floor, and hot air rises. (My apartment, like most NYC apartments, has steam heat. Newer building (post 1970 or so) have functional controls.. Older apartments allow you to regulate from broiling to just hot. It’s extremely rare for my apartment to be as cool as 72° (f) during the day, --even with a window or two open, its often 78° or warmer! It’s a bit cooler in the evening, but never so cold as I kept my house, where I was very conscious of every penny spent on each therm of heat.

I am told apartments lower down are often cooler.. It’s hard to regulate and get even heat on every floor--and as mentioned hot air rises.. The higher up you go, the hotter the apartments tend to get!
(Any engineers can save the trouble of telling me about vacuum pumps to keep the steam circulating.. They are in place and work, but hot air still rises, and I am close to the top!)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Today is my day…

Do you have the 2007 Pattern a Day Calendar? If so, you’ll see, today, January 11th feature one of my patterns.
(The calendar has 3 of my patterns for small patterns for bookmarks, each on seperate days.)
Here they are:

Don’t have the calendar? Well, with effort, you too, can have today’s pattern, free.
Go to the Big Apple Knitting Guild's web page.
Look for membership, then the link to the CityPurls.
Back issues of the City Purls are available as PDF’s.
The patterns for the bookmarkers can be found in the Aug/Sept 2005 issue of CityPurls.
Make your self a book marker (or not).
For all the other patterns in the calendar, you’ll just have to haunt your local bookstore--in many, it's available for 50% off.

The Baby Sweater, continued

Do you have (unspoken perhaps) rules to knit by?

I know I do.

Take baby sweaters.

By my rules, they should be done in stocking knit.. I think baby’s clothes are hard to fit. Babies grow so fast, clothes go from being oversized to hardly fitting in a blink of an eye, and for most of the time the baby is wearing a garment, it’s going to be too big.
And if it is going to be too big, it should be smooth.. Not a bulky stitch like garter.

REMEMBER--these are my personal idiosyncrasies, and not any sort of real rules.

And baby’s sweaters should be long.. They should easily cover the gap that is so often created by a diaper. Having yet another piece of clothing that ends above the diaper (and rides up as you hold the baby) just seem wrong to me.

If it's cool enough that the baby needs to be wearing a sweater, then they shouldn't end up with the sweater bunch up at their armpits, a big gap of exposed belly, and a diaper below! Even if they are wearing a one’sie that covers them shoulder to toe, if they need a sweater, it too should cover the bulk of their body.

Another rule of mine is fine knitting. Ideally baby weigh (fingering yarns) but sports weight will do. DK and worsted weights are fine once the kids are toddlers, but, new born’s and infants need fine gauged knitting--or so I think.

Do I like this kind of knitting, inches and inches of plain fine stocking knit? Hell no!

Still, I manage to get 4 inches done yesterday. (4 inches by 21 inches) and the sweater is now 11 inches long.

1 more inch to go-- well 2 actually since the sweater will be hemmed not ribbed at the bottom edge. And then sleeves. Thank goodness babies have such little arms!

Here is a swatch.. And a gauge swatch.. I am working at about 13 stitches to 2 inches, (26 stitches/4 inches (10cms) not super fine, but fine enough.

The yarn is Lion Brand’s Micro spun, color Mocha, which knits up as soft as velvet, and machine washes like a dream. It also tends to knit up with an uneven stitch-- a / shaped knit stitch not a \/ one..it has to do with how its plied (read more about this
here) but in reality, it is very loosely plied, and care has to be taken not to split stitches.

Some of that uneveness does go away when blocked (and my knitting is good, but it will look better after blockomg).
There are some small cables on the front for a bit of style, but simpler is better.. (after all, who is really looking at the sweater? It’s the Baby we want to focus on!)

Blogger was down for maintanence yesterday, and since then, the body is finished, (at 12.5 inches, since 12 inches came at the wrong point in the cable pattern ) and the sleeves have been started.

Meanwhile, mother and child, its been reported, are both doing fine.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Saturday I started a baby sweater.. My friend Jill (aka JAZ) and her husband Kevin are were due with her third child any day . I just learned, via the tsock tsarina, that yesterday, (8;15 or so last night), was the day.
I have about 7 inches knit--which is more than it sounds, since I am knitting in one piece from the top down, so its 7 inches of fronts and 7 inches of the back (and the start of the sleeves.) but I like long sweaters for babies. So I expect to keep going till its about 12 or more inches long. (long enough to cover bottom as well as chest and back)
JAZ has been making a baby sweater too, (still not finished) but then the sweater she is knitting is 50% wool --and NY has been experiencing a remarkable warm winter, and warm wooly garments might yet be needed, but as we head to mid winter, we’ve only had a few days of frost (and a light frost at that!) so she has some time still.
No photo’s --it would be fair to share before baby Aaron (and parents) get to see/wear it. It’s a simple basic sweater. If anything, too simple! I am growing bored by row after row of fine stocking knit, (I am working on size 5 needles.) with only a single cable either side of the button band to break the monotony of the knitting. I still have to find some buttons.. Some thing playful and masculine--I have some tool buttons, but most of them are too big for the buttonholes.
Maybe I'll just sew them on as a decoration.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Fibonacci 1

In my last post I mentioned my experiments using a fibonacci sequence to make a hat.
This is the simplest of patterns, it uses a fibonacci sequence for both the intervals between increases, and for the actual numbers of stitches to increase.
The resulting hat looks like a hat, (albeit a stylized one) and is a reasonably good fit (it is a large hat, but then, I have a large head, (as do my children) so a large hat is fine.

Lets start with the key numbers, in sequence:
(0), 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 ,13, 21, 34, 55, 89.… the series continues, but this is enough for our purposes.

If you are unfamiliar with a fibonacci sequence, it is formed by added the last 2 numbers together to get the next number.
.....Start with 1 (proceeding it, is, of course, 0(zero)
......So 1 + 0= 1
..Then 1 +1 =2
...Next 2 +1=3
And so on.

This is how I translate this to a knitting pattern.

I decided, the hat should be knit in the round, but the first few ‘rounds’ have so few stitches they were worked as I-cord on 2 DPN’s, and knit more like Rows.
To make this easy to understand, I use the designation R (not a row, but not really a conventional round either!)

Cast on --not R 1, but R 0 (well it is in most patterns, since row/round 1 always starts after the cast on. The cast on generally not considered row 1)

R0, (Cast on) 1
R1 Knit 1 1
R1 (again!)Make 1 (2 stitches on needle)

Ok i could have proceeded like that, but instead, I used a long tail cast on, and a twisted loop, (not a slip knot) to start.

A long tail cast on is a simple cast on combined with a stitch (R1 in effect)

So a loop (not a slip knot) and 1 stitch cast on gives 1 stitch --that hasn‘t been knit (just cast on) and 1 stitch --that has been in effect, knit.
Now on to R2--in R2, 3 stitches are need-so there is a need for an increase:
R2- Knit 1, Make 1, Knit 1 (3 stitches on the needles)
By R3, 5 stitches are needed
R3 -K1, M1, K2, M1 (5 stitches on the needles)
As so begins the ‘pattern’.

Now a proper fibonacci curve progresses at a ratio of 1:0.68

And this can be done in knitting. But this pattern is simplified (and that is precisely what I dislike about it, and what will be resolved in F2!)and it doesn’t really ‘curve’.

The pattern proceeds straight forward: at fixed intervals, a fixed number of increases. The increases, and intervals between the increases, will be based on Fibonocci sequences.
The next increase is at R5, and the increase needs to follow the sequences so the number of stitches will increase from 5 to 8
So, R4 is knit every stitch (no increases or decreases)
and R5 has 3 increases (to see the pattern clearer, the M1's are color coded)
R5--K1, M1, K2, M1, K1, M1, K1 (8 stitches)

From this point forward only rounds with increases will be noted, all other rounds are knit with out any increases.
And at this point, I began working in rounds (8 is the minimum number of stitches needed to work comfortably in the round, in my opinion)
I used a magic loop, but DPN’s could be used, though eventually you’ll need to move to a circular needle.
Round 8: Increase 5 times to bring stitch count to 13:
K1, M1, K2, M1, K1, M1, K2, M1, K1, M1, K1
Round 13: Increase 8 times, to bring stitch count to 21:
*K1, M1, K2, M1, repeat from * across round till you have increased 8 times
Note: round will end with an additional K1
Round 21: Increase 13 times, to bring stitch count to 34:
*K1, M1, K2, M1, repeat from * across round till you have increased 13 times
Note: round will end with K2
Round 34: Increase 21 times, to bring stitch count to 55:
*K1, M1, K2, M1, repeat from * across round till you have increased 21times
Note: round will end with K3.
Round 55: Increase 34 times, to bring stitch count to 89:
*K1, M1, K2, M1, repeat from * across round till you have increased 34 times
Note: round will end with K5.
Work even for 34 rounds.

Hat is complete. Well-- basically complete.

What I found interesting is how the ‘pattern’ of increases (K1, M1, K2, M1) resulted in a remainder (K X at the end of round) that also followed a Fibonacci sequence!

What remained was a bind off.
I decided I didn’t want to break the count with more rows/rounds of ribbing, so on went an I cord.

I also wanted something a bit more substantial than the standard I cord. Partly because I didn’t think a 3 or 4 stitch I-Cord would be enough of an edge to prevent rolling, and partly for style.
I consulted Nicky Epstien’s book, Knitting on the Edge, and found a 6 stitch, cabled I-cord..
Her design is for an sewn on/applied I-cord, I modified this to a Knit-In-Place I-cord bind off.
Cabled I-cord Bind off
With the same yarn (or with a contrasting color) cast on 6
Slip them to the left needle, (unknit)
R1 -K5, SSK (1 stitch bound off), return stitches to left needle
R2--K1, slip 2 onto cable needle, hold at front, K2, then k2 from cable needle, SSK,return stitches to left needle
R3--K5, SSK (1 stitch bound off), return stitches to left needle
R4--K5, SSK (1 stitch bound off), return stitches to left needle
Repeat these 4 rows till all stitches have been bound off.

After a few rows, to make it easier, I turned the last on the left needle, before the 6 I-cord stitches were returned. AND I turned the first stitch of the icord as I returned the stitches to the left needle.
This resulted in the last stitch of the icord and the next stitch to be bound off being ‘twisted’. These 2 stitches were then knit through the back look (un twisting them) which resulted in to decrease that was identical, in effect, to a SSK.

After the last stitch is bound off, graft the last row of the I-cord to the cast on row, making the edging look seamless. (this grafted row, plus the cast on row, corrected the bind off to 92 rows, so the cables pattern was even!)

The finishing touch, (after weaving in all the ends), was a tassel. I have been using pom pom’s a lot of late, and wanted something different.. Besides a tassel is more in keeping with the shape of the hat.
NOTE: as you have surely noticed, I didn’t include yarn/needle size/gauge in this ‘pattern’. Obviously, your choices will make a difference to the finished size of the hat.
My hat fits me. The final 34 rounds (a huge chunk of the hat) are knit straight(no increases)
There are 89 stitches in these 34 rounds. You can swatch and find the right yarn/needle/gauge to make any size hat you desire!

F2 will be a while before its knit.. other projects require my attention!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

More Hats!?

You’d think I would be done with hats.
I thought I was done with hats!
I got 5 of the 6 six hats I’ve promised to The Ships Project mailed.

The top two are done in Paton's classic Merino, the bottom two, from left over, not quite complete balls of yarn. 1 and 3 have a base of Lamb's Pride , 1 with a sparkly wool and nylon (a very old ball of yarn) 3 with another old scrap of yarn. In the middle, the cellular automaton hat.

One more to go--or maybe more.

I didn’t like how my first attempt at hat 6 was working out. It just didn't seem to be the right hat for this yarn.. (I am not alone in waiting for yarn to speak to me, and tell me how to knit it-- See this topic over on Knitter’s Review forum)
So it became a baby hat.. a tadpole topper, with warts and all.

This hat (another charity hat) got started in December, and kept getting put off, but finally came into being yesterday.

In theory, I should have started my DD birthday hat, as soon as I finished the charity knitting hat. I have a week, ten days, and some remainderd skeins of Lion Brands Alpaka yarn, in black, and she wants the simplest of hats, in black, of course.

But I got caught up in some mathematical thought, and I am working on Fibonacci 1, --it's OK, but fibonocci 2 will be better. There are things about F1 that are I don't quite like (but they aren't so bad that I am tempted to frog!) , but could be better--F2 will resolve, or so I think! (and who knows? There might end up being a F3!) If you haven't realized it, F1, and F2 (and potentially F3) are all hats!

(and any day now, I have to whip up a baby sweater... JAZ is due soon!)