Friday, January 29, 2010

Done –and Begun!

So the Blackjack socks are done! (and finished!) And ready to wear.

They are pretty enough, but nothing special. Special socks tend not to get worn for a while (I still haven’t worn the passionate purple petal socks yet... soon, but not yet!) Not so special socks get admired and fondled for a much shorter time, and the blackjack socks are nothing special.

I tried, after finishing them to work on the tam.

I think I have to frog back to the ribbing and start again. My count is off—(now that I finally have a chart big enough to work with—I can’t work Row 1 of chart 1—and have it come out right.

Of course I shouldn’t be doing work like that at night anyway—I just go brain dead as the sun sets... (And that is way too early in the winter).

So instead, I went to rummage for my next subway project (and meanwhile fermenting is my Ravelympics project) –and while all the sock yarn was calling out Me! Me! Me next!—and some, like the lovely indigo yarn that Kelly dyed for me was even being listened too… Then I heard a soft Please from some worsted weight yarn.

Months ago I decide this yarn was going to be a pair of fingerless gloves, and well its time has come! --see it here still in a twisted skein--

So the skeins got divide, and the design process got started.

For me, it most often starts with the yarn.

The prime yarn here is the hand painted skein of ArtYarn superwash merino.

It is beautiful—but I only have the single skein (and I got it in a swap, just the one!) and it’s a smallish skein (109 yards/50 gms).

Is that enough for a pair of fingerless glove? Maybe—but. To be sure, a solid or two—to co-ordinate. I have both the a raspberry and the grape-- So I have choices. And I have some white of the same yarn, too—but I don’t think I want to use the white. The Raspberry and grape are another machine washable wool –not merino, but still very soft. (They are in fact, Mode Dea machine washable wool)

So now the plan or design begins to come together.
This hand painted yarn, and another yarn (or will it be yarns!?) will become fingerless gloves.

Now—how to work the yarns.
Stripes? Chevrons? Solid body, with lacy cuffs or ruffles worked with the hand painted?

Tentatively, the plan was a side placket, and cuff worked in lace, using the hand painted yarn, and the solid yarn making up the bulk of the glove.

Time to hit the stitch dictionaries—I found lots of laces I liked –but none quite worked—they were too big, (and since this is worsted weight, and the lace would be big just based on the yarn…) or they were small and pretty, but would have been hell to miter—(and of course the idea was a placket edge, a mitered corner, and lace cuff.)

So I just turn the pages. This was nice, and that was nice, and then suddenly—the perfect pattern appeared. It’s not at all what I originally had in mind—but there it was-- the perfect stitch pattern! (You'll have to wait till Monday (most likely) to see it!)

It’s not written for working in the round, But it is very suitable. The pattern repeat is every 3 R’s—if worked flat, it would be R3, R6, R9—or alternately worked on the right side and wrong side—a PITA. But worked in the round? Not an issue—and since its mostly stocking knit—changing to knitting in the round is pretty simple (knit rounds, not alternately knit and purl)

It’s simple (I don’t want anything too complex for the subway!) It has the potential to look smashing with hand painted yarn—and finally—I haven’t seen it used recently (or for that matter, ever!)--though, things being what they are, I expect to see it the the spring issue of some magazine--It is, a very spring like pattern.

The single disadvantage is that it is a directional stitch. So unlike most fingerless gloves, mine will be worked from the fingers to the cuff. I am not (nor had I ever planned to) making finger holes. These fingerless gloves are just going to be tubes with a small thumb gusset –quick and easy.

These will be a quick project—they are being knit on size 6(4mm) needles—Huge compared to my usual subway socks projects knit on size 2’s.

And there are commensurably, with the bigger yarn, bigger needles and larger gauge; fewer stitches (40 or perhaps 44,) not 60 as there would be for socks.

And there is less shaping—thumb gussets are the only shaping required—which is significantly less than even the simplest heel.

I’ve already cast on. (And now am faced with the question—do I work the hand painted yarn as MC (do I have enough?) Or do I work the hand painted as the CC? (Will that be a waste of the hand painted and leave me with yards and yards of unused yarn—but not nearly enough yards to do anything else with?)

I am off to Ravelry –I’ll check out some other fingerless gloves and get an idea of the yardage requirements. And then—Off I go!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bad Blogger—

I wrote a post yesterday—but it was fluff.
Well mostly fluff, with a few links to hid the fact it was fluff. And, then, worse—I never posted what I wrote.

It was fluff because I had no photos (and um, I know I dislike post with out images, and I don’t like to make blog post with out them.) It had no photo’s because I had nothing to photograph.

No significant progress on anything. (and only a little progress to report today!)

I had hoped that by today, I would have a finished pair of Blackjack socks, but they still need toes to be knit.

See, I did make some progress! And the stripe is working out nicely—or well almost nicely. The toe will be worked in the main yarn (the stripe patterned sock yarn) , but the pattern is going to be the solid black stripe (and will match the solid black –contrasting solid black) heel.

The striping has gone off—the socks started at almost the same point of the stripe pattern, (maybe a few inches off) but a few inches later (by the heel) the patterns were not even (then about 3/ 3.5 rows out of sync) now, they are 5/5.5 or so rows out of sync.

I think this is one of the major differences between expensive (and often, but not always imported) self striping yarns and the less expensive ones. The expensive yarns have better quality control over the tension as the yarn gets dyed, and the stripes are much more likely to be identical, batch after batch in the dye lot.
(The ‘fair isle type’ elements are better, too)

Though, looking now at the label, I see that the Red Heart (a Coats and Clarks brand) Heart and Sole yarn is produced in Italy!—I guess I am thinking of the Coats and Clarks brands that are produced in Germany!
Since Kroy’s jacquards are also imported (from Canada, but made in Turkey!) and they too suffer sometimes from divergence. Its not a major issue for me. I see socks a ulititarian objects, not works of art.

In person, it’s very clear the heel is knit in a different yarn.. the black is a much darker, more saturated, evener black. The Kroy is also a bit heavier—(not a bad thing for a heel!) and the gauge is oh, so slightly different But then, most of the heel is the flap, and the flap is worked in Heel stitch, which has a different gauge anyway! –the difference is most notable at the bottom of the foot—after the turn when I returned to the Heart and Sole—Or the bottom of the foot of the sock-- and no one is going to notice a slight change in gauge there.

So that’s it—a few inches of the foot of the sock knit. Not much knitting, not much to blog about!

But I am thinking about knitting.. the Ravelympic's are coming up!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Stalled again

I don’t feel any older... Well, not mentally—physically, I am all aches and pains—and please God, they will last for years and years. I don’t dwell on them—why bother? I am generally healthy enough—and it's way to boring to listen to complaints!

What I notice most is my sight.

It used to be, I could see and read the finest of typeface—the compact edition of the OED that came with magnifying glass—I could read easily sans magnifier!

The test card in the opticians? Piece of cake compared to the OED!

I still can read the fine text—(the smallest font is still readable on the test card) but smaller? Not so much.. And I need good light, too! I used to be able to thread a needle in the dark—or near dark.

Now I move myself closer to the light, to see what I am doing.

Driving at night? I hate SUV’s and trucks with their higher than average lights that blind me. It takes less than a second to recover—but it takes recovery time—(perceptible) that I notice.

So last night I didn’t knit. Instead, I recreated the charts for the Fair Isle Tam.

I made them BIGGER—way bigger! And I change the colors, too so the charts reflect (sort of) the colors I am using.

The PDF from the Patons Blog prints out as standard 8.5 X 11 (US standard!) page – has the two charts on one page—the squares in the chart are less than .20 of inch in size—(14 stitches are represented in just over 2 inches/the 9 rows in just under 2 inches)—and this has become to small for me to read comfortable!

Oh, Youth! I want the vision of my youth—not that it was perfect then (I’ve worn corrective lens for distance and astigmatism since age 12—and likely needed them a year or two before that.) But in so many ways, I could see so much better!

I don’t know if I’ll work on the hat tonight, either—It’s knit night at LIC—and while I enjoy the company (who wouldn’t? It’s a great group!) it’s not the best place to work on chart that has whooped my ass already!

So maybe I’ll just go to town on the Blackjack socks—I am a dozen rows or so past the gusset—a bit over 4 inches now—and another inch or so to come on the ride home! This will bring me past the half way point –since 9 inches from base of flap to tip of toe is just about perfect fit for me.

What with an inch on my commute, and another 2 tonight—they will be done by the end of the month easily!

I can already hear the other sock yarns clamoring for my attentions.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Resolved—To detail and document more patterns

—and I am off to a good start.

This morning I added my 4th pattern to Ravely’s store.

This brings my total up to 4—
Cascading Water Socks (Nov 2009)
Double Knit Headbands (free till next week) (December 2009)
 The Red Star Beret (January 2010)
 Of Troy’s Rip Off, I mean, Rib Off Hat (January 2010)

The Rib Off hat is a reverse engineered design, inspired by a hat featured in many of the promotional ads for the new PIX series, Life Unexpected.

It is, all in all, a pretty simple hat. But, if you’ve been following along on the detour, you’ll know, it took me two tries to get the details right—and almost as much time to write the pattern as it did to knit the hat.

I like patterns that are broken into segments—and that is how I write them--Cast on, Part A (brim), Part B (crown), Part C (shaping), Part D (other details), Part E (finishing)--with as many different parts as needed. Unlike a printed publication, I don’t have to worry about cramming all the information into as little space as possible—so I don’t!

And I like patterns that include stitch counts--start with X, decrease R (row or round) ends with X(minus)y or the new X. With a new stitch count at the end of every decrease R..(Oh, yeah, I like R –instead of Row or Round) I know I often knit in the round, but I still think of each new round as new row of knitting. R works--for either term.

I rarely lose my place in a pattern, but if I do, I want clues to help me find my way—and when decreasing, a stitch count helps!

I might not be a perfect technical writer—but I do like details—and I when I write, I include them!

I’ve also added a new gadget in the left hand column—you can use it to link to my Ravelry store—I’ll brag let you you, as I add more patterns. Some will just be improved versions of patterns I have previously offered (here on my blog) and some will be new patterns, (many of these will be for sale.)

Other wise—well not much to report—I had a nice weekend—and met some Ravelry friends in real life –I went to see /participate in Robyn Love’s project at Wave Hill on Saturday

Not much participation—I really don’t have much interest in spinning—and this translates into an unwillingness to really work at learning how to do it. I do have some (pretty awful) yards of stuff I have spun. While it wasn’t spun or dyed as part of her design project, I think it will be knit up as hat for her project—since I am good at knitting hats!

Sunday was Wheel day at Panera’s—Melanie didn’t bring her new Bee as promised (that OK) but Kelly brought her new (antique wheel) and Barbara brought her antique wheel, and Lisa was there with hers—it was like a scene out of a fair tale! –especially as they sat, in a row, at one the bench seats, and worked together.

(I had my camera with me, but did I think to take a photo?—do you see a photo??)

Nothing got accomplished on the tam (I need to blow up and recolor code the chart!—its too small and too dark for me to see clearing –unless I am sitting with it under my ott like light- (so every thing I did knit, I frogged!)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Back On Track.

The Detour is complete… Well almost complete—all the knitting is done, and most of the finishing, too

The Detour is a hat (A Hat? Really? Wow what a stretch—a hat!) One that is a knock off (Rip Off) , oops, I mean Rib Off.

This image, (from last night) was taken when a half dozen more rows (all decrease rows) needed to be knit.

It is stretched slightly--and clearly, the top (the garter stitch crown) is not too much bigger than the ribbing--and is not/will not be to poofy.

Since then, I’ve finished off the decreases to the crown, and picked up the stitches from the cast on edge knit the tab, woven in all the edges, and sewn on the button.

All that remains is a pompom.

JelliDonut got me started on it. She wanted a pattern to make the hat (well one of the hats) being worn by the lead character of the new TV show “Life Unexpected”

Here is the image of the hat that started it all.

It’s a pretty simple hat—(but it took me 2 tries to get it right) and it will be up on Ravelry by Monday--January 25th--(maybe before) as a Download.

I was going to make it a free pattern, but in light of the current conditions, I decided instead to make it a donation pattern—The price is a bargain $3—with all the proceeds going to Haitian Relief fund.

The hat has two versions—one with a detailed cast on—and one with a very simple cast on—(an inferior one for the purpose—though perfectly serviceable.)

I think, for hats, where the cast on hangs around your face, it is important to have the best possible cast on. In this case, the cast on is the only thing that is at all difficult. It is just a cast on—didn’t you have a New Year’s resolution to improve you knitting skills? Well here is your chance!

Work at the cast on, get it right, and from there on, the hat is knitting 101—And cute as cute can be.

So now it’s back Blackjack socks, and at home, back to the fair isle tam.

But the detour has been fun—and it’s helped me with one of my New Years resolutions—More patterns documented and offered for sale!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Familiar Territory?

(Gee didn’t I post a picture just like this a few days ago?)
Not quite 6 inches yet, (5.5) and yes, I think 6 inches is the right length—but not 1 row more than 6 inches!

Next is the top—I am going to take 2 steps to correct the too poofy top.
1st, some decreases (about 10%)
2nd, I will continue with the same needle and not go up a size.

Together, this should keep the top in scale—a bit of a bubble, but not an oversized one!—there is a nature tendency for the knitting to poof up—the ribbing pulls the fabric in significantly.

One problem with this hat was a rush to yarn—I usually mentally knit out a hat (for a few days, or weeks or months) before I actually knit it. I think about the fit, and how to achieve the right fit, the yarn, the needles, the gauge. And while I don’t always get it right with all that thinking, I do usually come closer!

I have momentarily abandoned my Blackjack socks—and have spent time thinking about this hat, and the fair isle tam, and gloves, and…

Thinking, to about--What I want to own?
--Vests, shrugs and other sleeveless or almost sleeveless tops.
What do I want to knit?
--Hats, scarves (yes, I always complain about knitting them, but I keep knitting them—and silky, dressy scarves, I even wear!) and socks

And what to do, to get more of the things I want to own.

I want some more shawls, too, and...

Well it doesn’t matter what follows the And...
The problems is what I want to knit, very frequently isn’t what I want own or wear!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A bump in the Road

But I am not deterred!

I am lucky—partly it is geography—NYC is a mecca for designers, and is still a fashion center—There is talent everywhere, but a good percentage migrates here—and there are just so many NYer's, that well, even if only 1% (of 8 MILLION) are really talented, is still a lot of people.
So, I belong to 2 primary knitting groups (and occasionally I attend other groups.)

I am one of the most experienced knitters in each group—but I am the second rate designer in both!

My Sunday group is attended by Lisa (aka The TsockTsarina) and my Tuesday group, by Melissa (aka NeoKnits)

Last night at LICknits, was Hat night—Blogless Kim was wearing her pretty silvery jacket—and her version of the Mary Jane hat (knit with a glittery, silvery yarn).

Dana was wearing her copy of the same—and had her sample (Dana was a sample knitter) of Melissa’s second hat in the collection, Lillian (and was taken to task for not having added either hat to her Ravelry notebook! (Shame on you, Dana!)

Gwen had her completed hat from some Louisa Harding book, and had cast on for another hat from the same collection/book.

Me? I was hard at work (oh, yeah HARD!!) finishing up my Detour.
I even finished it..It was a dud.

A successful dud—everyone liked the idea—but the details just weren't right.

1—I opted for an easy (well easier) cast on. And this was mistake one.
The best cast on is a bit difficult (but since it is the only difficult part, and is option—change 1 is the cast on.

2—the Ratios were wrong... the 11 inches were a perfect fit for pin headed (a 19 inch or so head) –but the 6.5 inches—Way to big!
The 6.5 inches would have been fine for Kim (an other bowling ball head—22 inches!) if she could have dealt with the way, way too small 11 inches!-- the super stretchy cast on was stretched to the max, but it was just too small.

3—I changed needles after I finished the ribbing (I, like most knit a bit looser when ribbing, and tend to go down a needle size) –but this made the top way too poofy—which was made worse by the poofiness not being in the right place—(see item 2!)

So, this project has 3 elements:

The Cast On (a fine detail—but an important one) and the one I used doesn’t do the best job.
The Ribbing –and it was too tight--or perhaps, more correctly, not enough of it.

The Top—and it was too loose/large.

(Ok there are 2 more small elements, (1) I didn’t do, (a pompom!) and (2)I did do—and it was fine—this last element is about 2 inches of garter—a nice detail but a perfect detail doesn’t comp for major problems!

So it’s back to drawing board—
--Last night I cast on again—and the new cast on is so much better
And I cast on over 10% more stitches.

That's it—So—here are the details. (Subtle—but OH, so important!) of the cast on.
Can you see the difference?
The top cast on has a narrow tube before becoming ribbing
Just 2 rows--but...

The second cast on starts the ribbing immediately.

Today’s work (some ribbing) will be more or less the same—
More—stitches and less rows
(Yes, I know, that not quite grammatically correct--it should be fewer, but let's not go there!)

And I will edit the pattern—You might have to wait till the week end for the completed pattern.

I was going to offer it for free--but my thinking about this has changed, too.. there will be a nominal charge--and 100% will be donated to Haita Relief/Rescue funds.

The dud? Well it can be fixed. I will undo the cast on, frog back an inch or so, and do a bind off (grafted, natch). The changed ratios will work—the FO will be small—but workable.

So dear readers—a detour and delay! But it will be worth the wait (The dud--with all its faults-- was well liked—so I know I am heading in the right direction... And I’ll get there!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


OK, so on the way home, I worked on the Blackjack socks—(and this name so works—I am knitting them 2 at time, cuff down—or doubling down on the socks!)

A few rounds of the gusset are done, and I have reached the end of the color –now and inch or two of plain black –the black stripe on the foot will be a bit shorter—I still have 14 more decreases to do on the gussets—the sock (leg) was knit at 64 stitches, (so the flap was 32 stitches, and 32 rows, and that meant 32 +2 stitches picked up—34 total—so the deep flap generated a deep gusset!
But it’s all fine! Look I even have photo’s!

Meanwhile, there was this detour.

Let me start out by saying.. We all have innate skills—our minds are all wired the same—and slightly differently—some –Mozart comes to mind—have musically skills beyond the ordinary (some, like me, are tone deaf) Some have a proficiency for language (Hi Melanie--) and are reading in preschool.

Me? I learned to read in school –not before it—and while I did well once I learned –I was not precocious.

But when it came to knitting—well it took me a few months to get it (about 6 months) but then—once I got it. Well I GOT IT. Nothing about knitting is difficult for me. I don’t make a point of specializing in EVERYTHING—but I can do everything (well everything I’ve tried I can do... and I have tried just about everything.) I can look at most knitting and see how it was knit—and copy—always the general design, frequently special details, and often the exact stitch.

So my detour—is a bit of reverse engineering—it’s a rip off... Oh wait let me rephrase that—it’s a Rib Off! Of Troy’s Rib Off.

At a glance, I could spit out general directions for the reverse engineered knock off I am working on-- but –I decided to go all out, and
1—Make a proper pattern
(This is one of my goals for New Year –to document more patterns so this detour isn’t really taking me somewhere I don’t want to go!)

2—Knit and photograph as I go.

So last night I cast on...
See? Oh, you can’t really understand what you are seeing? Ha! Too bad! You’ll have to wait!

And made some progress (what you are seeing is roughly 6.5 by 11 inches... and about 60% or so percent done)—(Did I say 11? Well it does measure about 11 inches) --Hard to see what it is? Well no wonder, the image is blurry! D'oh, did you think you'd get a really good hint?

Oh, yeah, did I mention? I am an efficient knitter—I don’t make speed a goal—it’s a side effect of minimal movement and years of practice--so this is just about 3 hours of knitting--and by far the 'hardest' part of the project. The remaining knitting is so much easier!

This detour is a bit more detailed then my off the top of my head comments on re-engineering a pattern… and my plan is that by tomorrow—this space will have all the details—the Pattern—already out lined—should be available tomorrow too—But only on Ravelry—So if you aren’t there yet—get going!

(have some coffee and JelliDonut, while you are there!)

Monday, January 18, 2010

A productive weekend

So long as household chores aren’t counted!

Friday, on the way home, I finished the flaps and turned the heels, and picked up the gussets on the blackjack socks.(1 round worked, next round starts the decreases)—no image.

Saturday—I felt blah—not so sick as to be really sick, but not so hot either--A general (mild) malaise. As likely as much to do with the short days (and late sun rise) as much as anything else. But I did really have stomach pains for a few hours--and headachee, too. The weather was wonderful (the best day of the week and weekend!) but I had trouble enjoying it.

In the evening, I worked on the teal shrug and got one half front finished.
I am not thrilled with it--but in 2 weeks the winter will be half over, and I need to finish this up—so it will do. I still have sleeves to do on it—so enough is enough--eventually I will photograph it.

And I decided on my next project—the Patons Tam –(which was last month’s knit along project on the Patons blog—so I won’t be knitting along with others--but)—I really like the design—and I hope to knit a few!

The tam is worked in 5 colors. This first tam will be Current, Water Chestnut(the two colors in my Peachy sweater) Wisteria (a pastel purple) Royal Purple (a deep purple) and Lemon Grass—a yellow green.

I used the same deep purple Patons wool in my February Lady sweater—so in theory—this fair isle style tam will look good with either sweater. Not that I am one for matching clothes.

No that is not true—I do like looking well coordinated—with colors (or color families) that match—I cringe at wearing (or seeing others wear) a tomato (orange) red with a cherry (blue) red.

I am, tone deaf (really—I have a classic tin ear) but—I have an acute sense of color. And of color memory—I can match paints, and trims, and see colors (depth, shade and other values) in a way that those with perfect pitch can hear note.

--My mother recognized my skill long before I did—and often sent me to buy thread or buttons or other notions for the things she sewed—occationally she questioned my choices—but almost always, she realized, that my choices were the right ones. What she sometimes thought as an off-beat choice, was (when looked at in daylight, and in the kitchen (florescent) and under the sewing lamp) actually a the perfect match.

So while my style choices are often eclectic, my color choices are very often rigid –no off shades for me! And I like high contrast—the royal purple is perfectly contrasted with yellow, and the peach,, with a shade of blue--the lemon grass is a yellowish green (--and green is yellow and blue) so it is just the right shade to compliment both colors.

Tonight—I start the first round of color.. (and then the under band pattern) –and maybe I’ll get a few rows down on the teal shrug front band..

And I should do some laundry—and definitely some meal planning, and I still have pounds of onions waiting to turn into soup, and … Oh I hate household chores!

Friday, January 15, 2010

What now?

I am asking myself that question!

I want to knit the fair isle tam (do I want to knit a hat?) I have the yarn.. and the pattern...

I want to knit the gloves from the Holiday issue of Interweave (page 123) I have some lovely cashmere for the gloves, but need some fine wool for the Turkish colorwork over glove—and do I want to start the gloves(and wait on the overglove?)

I want to document some patterns and have more patterns available on Ravelry—
Some are easy—I just need to make some PDF’s of existing files, and upload those to my Ravelry collection.
Some are harder—since I actually need to write the patterns up!
Some are harder still (I need to transfer a hard drive—which means so much more that just doing that) to get to the file.
(I was sure I copied the files, but I can’t find the CD)—and if I am doing that, I want to also set up the wireless router, and… (lots of hardware software details I should take care of!)

I have some UFO’s I should work on—(2 pairs of socks! And a shrug, and well, there are bags of knitting stuff all over—and I need to clean up the mess!)

I need to start some gifts, and some projects for my DD—she will be doing the Avon run walk again this year, and I want to do some more stuff for her fund raising efforts.

I should organize my stash—and maybe finish photographing it—since I only have a small portion of my stash uploaded to Ravelry (yes, those 107 entries are just a small part of my stash!)

And then there are the non-knitting things I have in my mental queue—a skirt or two to sew up, and some knitting bags (as gifts) and other sewing projects.

And some earings I want to make—for me and for the above mentioned fund raisers to come.

Well I have done some knitting—here are the black jack socks—with a heel flap, if not a turned heel!

So what next? I dunno!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Whoo Whee! 6 foot 3!

Last night I finished the 2 row scarf—Knitting and finishing!

In the end, I had less than 1 yard of the yarn left over—this included the tails from the cast on, the tails from the bind off, and the tails from change of skeins.

After weaving in (actually what I did was some duplicated stitches, and then pulled the tail between the 2 layers of knitting) the total was about 12 inches of waste.
And the finished length? 75 inches! All I wanted (72 inches!) plus 3 more!

As I have mentioned, I don’t much like scarves snug around my neck—and the thought was, this narrow(ish) scarf could be worn folded and the ends tucked into the fold. To be long enough to do this, (and still not be ‘close’ (because close is too close, and close is way looser than tight!)) I needed at least 36 inches when the scarf was folded.

The extra inches make it all the nicer.

Yesterday Virginia commented that she thought the scarf must be boring to knit—
(Every row the same, row after row) but actually this has been one the least boring scarves I have ever knit!
I started with an Italian (tubular) cast on, and finished with a grafted bind off (see details to left) and worked in simple double knitting (K1, Slip 1) the way it worked was:
Oh, change of yarn; look at how the colors:
Almost match
Strongly contrast
Change colors before my eyes
Yes, Blue violet and violet blue are different colors.
Oh look Red—wait no its not, its red violet.

(Other such sentiments!)

R1 was alternating colors, R2 filled in with the new color. Interesting!
R3 and 4—Ok—(not yet boring) and then
R1 and R2Interesting again!
This scarf never got boring.

While the stitch pattern was boring (and there are one or two errors and the scarf is not a perfect tube!), the color way’s keep the whole thing interesting beyond belief. I could see myself knitting another scarf like this!

This is pretty amazing, because my most frequent reaction to finishing any scarf (and most shawls) is: THAT IS THE LAST SCARF I AM GOING TO KNIT!( a lie, but one I often tell myself!--like other lies we tell our selves (You know the kind; this year, I am going to lose weight, and keep it off, or this year, NO new yarn for the stash, or..)

The socks are moving along, too, I started the heel flaps yesterday, (and just got a few rows done—half the time was taken up finding the ends and neatening up the balls (not balls, but collapsed skeins) of the solid black yarn. I'll take a photo when there is something interesting to see—Like a finished heel—or at least a finished heel flap and turning, and gusset stitches picked up!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The end of the Skein is coming…

Last knit at LICKnit night, there was lots of activity—books where shared, FO, too, and progress.

Kim (blogless Kim, aka “Boss” (she is my direct supervisor!) aka kls1004 (on Ravelry) took center stage—She had Nicky Epstien’s book Knitting A Kiss in Every Stitch—and while I am a general fan of Nicky’s—this book was amazing—not one or two things I liked, but LOTS (and lots of patterns too, over 35!)

Nicky always makes an effort to jam pack her books value— Why hasn’t this book been screamed about? It has lots of simple pattern—with the fine detailed touches Nicky is famous for—and some wonderful, ideas for hats, for scarves, for toys and clothing. I have a Barnes & Nobel gift card sitting in my purse—and clearly, I need to get to a B & N and spend it.. (OH, yeah, another Nicky touch—the price… Her books are a value.. ($25, (a gift cards worth!) not $29 or more! Knitting book (along with knitting!) have been resurging –an prices are going up and up—but this books is a value item. Nicky can be found (very infrequently!) on Ravelry now, too.

Kim also had a FO—Melissa Wehrle’s (NeoKnits on Ravelry) new Mary Jane hat.

Kim too, was seduced by the Silk Kid Mohair (Melissa likens it crack—Knitter's yarn crack! (There are some yarn/fibers that are like that!)

Me? I plodded along on my scarf—Dana saw it for the first time, and was amazed—(It does really looks and feels wonderful for a yarn that is 75% acrylic!)

The stripes, too are nice—and the color balance/color changes.
I left early (parking issues!) but not before I had 66 inches! And at home, another 2—just 4 more inches and I’ll have 72! 6 feet!—a long scarf for someone who professes not to like scarves much!

The skeins is rapidly coming to an end—but I don’t think I’ll run out before reaching 72 inches--my mental goal for this scarf—and maybe even a bit more. I have a few yards put aside from the beginning of this skein—I made a small effort match up ONE of the colors as a changed skeins—and just using the colors left in the skein I have an idea about how much more I can knit.

This scarf will be finished just in time for this weekend thaw. By Friday, winters grip will be eased, and daytime temps will once again be close to 40°--and while night time temps will be colder—they won’t be bone chilly teens! (or worse single digit temps!)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


But not that much of it..

Finally, last night, I picked up the striped scarf—and got about a dozen rows knit.. I didn’t bother to photograph, cause really being 61 inches long, (vs 59 inches ) isn’t really noticible! But I have started up again, and I don't have much to knit to finish--so I will keep at it!

The sock are longer too—but still just legs, (no heels yet) and only subtly different.(So no photo either!)

But I have been holding out on you…
While I haven’t been knitting –I have been playing with yarns and with dyes. (and other stuff, too!)
2 skeins—and what a story they each tell!

Skein 1—a semi solid green.
Simple enough—a single small skein of a near white (muslin?) soaked in acidulated water, then green food coloring was added.(The stores stocked up before Christmas, and had a sale afterwards on 1 ounce bottles of a single color)
I poured the dye in the water, around and about—intentionally making some areas color(dye) rich, and leaving other areas almost color/dye free.
I used a full bottle of food coloring--50gm ball of mostly wool, and about 10% solution (90% water/10% vinegar(by volume) and a 1 ounce bottle of food coloring.
Then I nuked for 5 minutes/cooled for 10, (twice) till the color was fully absorbed, and the water was clear.
It’s a nice green—(it will be combined with some self striping, and used as trim, and well it will be used!

Skein 2—a sort of hand painted look—but done the lazy way in a big flat bath that allow me to drip dye/color where i want it--not in a deep pot.

This full 100gm skein is/was the somewhat unsuccessfully ‘cabbage’ dye I did with Robyn Love at Wave Hill—(see this post)

The water this yarn was soaked in (at Wave Hill) had alum added. (but it came home, and was reheated, and rinced—in an attempt (unsucsessful) to set the cabbage color)

This yarn was processed almost the same as the green.
I used several bottles of food coloring (1 bottle of green, 1 bottle of Yellow, and some dredges of a bottle of red food coloring (less than 1 teaspoons worth!)--twice as much food coloring, for twice the weight of yarn.

I used the same ratio of water/vinegar, and basicly the same process (to get intentionally un even color pick up.

But look at the green!--it is especially evident in the side by side shot how much darker and intense the green is in the multi color skein than it is in the semi solid green one.

And that orange isn’t orange, but supersaturated yellow! (and the red—so intense! So much color from so little dye!)

I’ve never much used mordants like iron, or tin, or alum—I’ve done mostly simple dying..Sometimes working to get an even all over color, other times working with dyes that I know will break or separate, (and working to get those breaks) I have made semi solids by intentionally having uneven consentrations of dye in the water bath..

But these colors are so saturated, so intense (for what are really simple dye matter.)

The first skein is 50 gms, and was dyed with 1 bottle of food coloring (1 ounce)

The second skein has about the same amount of dye material (100 gm of yarn, 2 bottles of food coloring (+ a little more) (2.2 ounces)) but the colors are much more intense!

Not at all what I envisioned, or really desired, but I am not unhappy with the results. I realize I have lots to learn about even simple dying!

I look forward to seeing this yarn knit up—and the kind of socks it that will result!
But that won’t be for a while –(likely not till the fall!)

Do you want to learn more about natural dyes and mordants (and spinning, and plying, and knitting and fiber skills in general? Robyn is one of the artist in-residence this season at Wave Hill--you can attend her program Saturday's or Tuesdays.. see her blog for more info!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Well-- I have been working on my socks!

(Does that sound a little self justifying?)

I know, it’s a knitting blog—and every once in a while, I go off knitting.
Not completely, but...
Yesterday, I picked up the scarf, and admired it yesterday, but… that’s as far as I got.

I am in a bit of rut.
I generally like the cool weather—but the past ten days have been brutal.
Cold, cold, cold, windy, and cold! (I know its been as bad or worse lots of places!)

I love to knit hats, (and have dozens in my collection) but I don’t much like to wear hats.

I don’t like things over my ears, or tight around my head.

I don’t like scarves or things around my neck either. I can manage crew neck knit (commercial cotton) tops, but I hate turtle necks.
Most of the time, NYC winters are mild enough, that I don’t feel the need for a winter coat. Layers (long sleeve cotton tops, or short sleeved ones, with vests, or long sleeved woven cotton shirts, and a light weight outer jacket is plenty – I usually fell warm.

But the wind has been brutal—and I’ve been bundled up more than I like (with scarves and hats, and gloves and over gloves (fingerless gloves over real gloves!)

And I still end up feeling cold.
Indoors (at both work and home!) have plenty of heat—but the wind drives drafts of cold air everywhere—All I want to do is crawl under the covers and get warm.

Well the cold snap is coming to an end--by the Friday we should be back to the more seasonable low to mid 30’s—vs the high 20’s! And the wind is dying down.

So, getting to knitting (the supposed topic of this blog!)--here are the newest sock—1 full color repeat completed—and about 6 inches.
I’ll place the heel (and work it in a separate solid black) in the mostly black portion of the color pattern—(or about in another 2+/almost 3 inches!)--as you can see, (cast on) there are some rows of color, there are a few rows of black, and then a long bit of colors before a larger portion of more black.
Putting the heel in the solid black portion of the stripe pattern will have the least distruption.

I really dislike how the heel flaps and gussets mess up self striping patterns. This colorway makes it easy for me to sub a solid (black) and not have it be to noticeable! I am liking this!

(Oh what fun—2 things just occurred—1 a space heater to counteract the drafts (at work) and the radio (QXR –a classic station that is part of NPR) just put on the William Tell overture (the theme from the Lone Ranger for some of us).

Saturday, January 09, 2010

I got nothing.

Ok, so I have another inch on my socks (or maybe more—since the inch I claimed yesterday, and today’s inch some how add up to over 4 inches. And there is more since the photo was taken (before I headed to work!)
After many rows of colors, and some rows of alternately black and color, I am back to some rows of solid black –(about 6 now, and I still don’t see color emerging from the ball)
These sock are (D’oh) cuff down—I don’t always knit cuff down—(though my last half dozen pair have been!) and I don’t dislike toe up. I don’t have any real rhyme or reason to the direction I knit socks--(The yarn tells me!)

And I certainly disagree with the statement that toe up are superior because they can be tried on –cuff down can be tried on (and all sock should be tried on, as you knit them, if possible.)even if they are not for you!

It is easier to try on socks being knit on circ’s (1 or 2 circ’s) but it is quite possible to try one socks knit on DPN’s (it takes a small amount of extra effort—but its so worth it.)

Why try on? Well even with dozens and dozens of socks under my belt, I can, if I am working with a different yarn, or a different edge(cast on)--and lets face it, I am always working with a different yarn, and different edge/cast on—I can (yes, that is repetitive!) make the cuff too tight.

Trying on when I have only 1 inch (really 1 inch, or less!) is a way to check that the cast on edge is not too tight, that is slips easily over my heels—
It is much better to frog and start over with 1 inch or knitting, than to finish a sock and then discover its too tight to go on comfortably, (or at all!)

I try on again, as I work to see how tall to make the sock. I have shapely calves—full ones—and unless I plan extra width (extra stitches!) I have to be careful how tall I make them. Socks cuffs that comfortably go over my heel still don’t go that far up my leg.

I try on again, after the heel –(and gusset)—this is another critical point of fit—and if the heel doesn’t fit well –well now is the time to redo!

Finally I double check with a try on, before I start the toe shaping—I always want to rush the toe shaping (and usually need a few more rows!)

(Toe up? The same—only backwards—try on to check gauge at the end of the toe, and try on to place heel, and after heel to check fit, and finally to check height!)

I’ve learned to do this –I have mentioned (more than once, but I will do it again) that my first pair of socks-knit before men reached the moon—LOOKED great.
White, black, grey with touches of red and yellow argyles—I remember how I loved the look.

But they wouldn’t have gone on a blow up doll! –unless you stuck the empty vinyl into the sock and then blew it up! (and you’d would have had difficultly blowing up the feet --the socks were so, so tight!)

Friday, January 08, 2010

Knit Out.

I looked at my knitting bag last night—the one that has the 2 row scarf in it… and thought about knitting—but--just didn’t have the energy!

There are various other yarns and books and stuff –for me to knit, but nothing appealed.
I just needed a break.

I did start a new pair of sock (we have already established, I DON’T need any more socks) for passing the time on the subway, and I like them.
These newest sock are being made with Red Heart’s Heart and Sole sock yarn, in the colorway ‘Blackjack’. The ball band photo is a generic one and just shows a stripe pattern, but this yarn is working out quite nicely—rounds and rounds (about 8) of solid black, and then rounds and rounds (about 10) of stripy patterning.

I start the skeins at close to the same point in the pattern (or at least I think I did!)
--but already (just over an inch ) into the sock, they are close mates/match ups, but not perfect.

I don’t mind –I am just not that obsessive about sock (details!)—and besides, so far I am so happy with the bands of solid/bands of color—that it doesn’t matter!

These are plain socks (OK a fancy bit of Latvian braid and a braided cast on to start) –I am going to let the stripes provide all the interest—and so far that’s working!

A bit of self promotion here—I have been nominated on Ravelry for a Bobby –and really, just being nominated is thrilling. Winning would be out of this world—I am quite happy to come in 4th or 5th—but to do that, I need your vote.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Hats (and other head coverings)

First, hats are just a sub set of head coverings—which come in lots of different styles—from symbolic and simple, to ornate and extensive.

And covering ones head, for functional reasons, or religious, or cultural reasons has a long and complex history (I have some links at the end to some histories of hats—I think they are inadequate, but a start in case you’d like to learn more!)

Hats can be functional—they can shade your head and keep it cooler, or insulate your head and keep it warmer, (see this post about conserving body heat—a warm hat makes a big difference!)

But hat have lots of other purposes besides these, and there are many conventions and rules (some of which we still adhere too, many of which have fallen by the wayside!)

Today, in US and most of western world, head covering are almost purely functional (warmth/shade) or decorative—be they Easter Sunday show off hats, or sport team caps.

We often forget the long history of hats, and of social conventions (now largely ignored) for covering ones head.

Religious groups of all stripes often have requirements for covering the head—by both men and women. The requirements are often different, but there are requirements for both sexes—and different rules for wearing (and removing!)

Hats and head coverings could (and sometimes still are) marks of status –one extreme is the crown or tiara—but it is also true that Queen Elizabeth is never with out a hat (a fancy hat—a reminder of crown she is title to)—and remove a hat can be a sign of subservience or humility.

In some cultures, religious riites require hats –in others, they require the removal! (and sometimes there are different rules for different members of the religious community! )—In most Christian churches, men’s heads are uncovered—but bishops and cardinals are exceptions.

A bishop and his miter –are as distinctive as a swami and his turban—in each case, the hat (or headgear) is a indication of status.
But, once, a fisherman hat, and newsboys hat, and widows cap, were also distinctive identifiers to classes, and social standing. A Fez was, for many years, a cultural hat that defined Turks—and is still worn despite laws prohibiting it!

In the court of Henry the Eight, Queen Katherine wore the peaked cap that was the style of the Spanish court—(and many woman of the English court copied her style.)

Anne Boleyn, who spent several years in the French court, wore the crescent moon shaped cap that was the style there, when she returned to England.

As their fortunes rose and fell—so did the styles of headwear in court.
Katherine could see Anne influence in court by looking at the styles worn in court!
Years later, Anne saw clearly her friends abandon her—and her crescent moon head dress!

50 years ago, Jacqueline Kennedy changed fashions with her classic pill box hats (and made wearing a square scarf (a kerchief) an acceptable head covering for church!)

Our language is full of hat and headgear idioms--
We “wear a feather in our cap”, or salute “hats off to you”, “throw our hat into the ring”, ‘tip our hats (to you)”, or “keep it under (y)our hat”—are just a few to come to mind—but there are many more.

So knit a hat—and think about all the history of headgear—and be part of the continuum.

One history of hats—(and there are many more, some more complete, some, well less complete)

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Hat Project—105 hat later.

I can’t begin to express my gratitude to everyone who has participated.

(Those who know me, know I often take a dim view of charity knitting—so my heading up a project like this is well—unexpected)

For security and privacy reasons, I can’t tell you much about the school and nothing at all about the kids… but there are lots I can talk about.

Poverty, for one—the school is located in zip 10455—where half the people in the area are unemployed—and over 40% are disabled.

Those that do work often spend a large percentage of their time and income commuting—to jobs that pay very little (over 50% of the population lives below the poverty line.)

Over 80% of the population lives in households where English is not the prime language in the household—and many of the household are broken. Studies have shown in areas like this, a wage earner will sometimes live and work far from his (or her) family –taking work that requires them to live away from home, leaving their family’s with some money, but with out their presence.

Over 90% of the housing is rental—and much of the housing is old—it was build 100 years ago, when the subways first opened the area up to development as cheap housing, for the urban poor. For many years, both laws and custom made improvements almost impossible.

(I grew up in similar tenement type building, (about 30 blocks north) in a two parent household, and know first hand, some of the problems…)

The building have plaster and lath walls –and even in well maintained buildings, the plaster, over time tends to crack and loosen –in building that were poorly made, subject to the normal wear and tear, but often not maintained with any regularity, cracks and breaks are common (and frequently repaired with less skill, and less investment in material than was employed in the original construction.)

The apartments are old, small, drafty—the basic problems (built in 100 years ago!). They make it difficult to easily live comfortably--in benign poverty.
In NYC, (unusually for most cities, both here and abroad) public housing projects are considered desirable—and while some exist, --most have waiting list of several years, so much of the area is dismal.

It is an area with few parks or playgrounds—none were planned when the area was being developed--with dense population, and few or no services (pawn shops out number banks 2 to 1) and there are few (no really local) grocery stores or discount stores (like Pathmark, or Marshall’s or Target) –local bodega’s are the prime stores, and these are expensive, and offer a poor selection of foods.

A huge percentage of the population is from tropical Puerto Rico (and as such, native citizens to US) and frequently unused to the cold --and the past 10 day, have been, here, as in many other parts of the US north and east, unseasonably cold! (In the past 5 days, the temps have been, at the warmest, (before wind/chill is considered) below freezing.)

Everyone is deserving of the basics of life—and warm hat is just on of those basics—but poor handicapped children—are especially deserving.

Your help in this project is truly wonderful

And just to let you know, you helped me, and my spirits, and my involvement, when you visited my blog, and made for your self (or your friend, or others!) hats from the patterns I posted! By just reading—you done something.

Tomorrow, I will wax philosophic about hats. Have you ever thought about hats, head covering, and the meaning of hats? I have!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

I have Hats—Lots and Lots of Hats

And there are more to come! (And will be more photo’s tomorrow!)

Yesterday, I got 4 Hats from Robyn Love—(a knitter, like me, who feels compelled to knit fancy hats, with stripes, and fair isle elements!)

I have a photo of Melanie’s raspberry wool hat—a top knot hat.
OK, so I added the top knot—she was 2 or 3 rounds from completion, when time ran out Sunday,
so I did the last few rounds. There were 2 or so yards of yarn left. Not enough for a pom pom (which take up thousands of yards!) or even enough for a tassel—but 2 inches of
I-cord? Done! –the knotted I-cord makes an
interesting finish, doesn’t it? (And used up the yarn to perfection!)

I haven’t been resting on my laurels (do I have laurels to rest on?) Here’s the double knit hat,
(the folded back flap let's you see the inside)

Brown bear (still not done! –but I will finish it tonight at LIC Knit Night) is waiting till it is finished before it gets photographed.

And here is a Red Star Beret-- not done either, but I started it yesterday –and got the hard part done (increases!) now, there 65 stitches, but in another round, just 55, and in less than a dozen rounds, each smaller than the next; —a Hat!

The hat is to my thinking a real beret—(it can be worn as a slouch hat, but it is a proper flat beret) It's not quite finished, but you can still see the spokes that are a key design element.

Like it?
Here is how to make one of your own!

–Fortunately, stars come in lots of colors, so you can pick your favorite—one that is astrologically correct, or just a color you like!

The hat is knit in a worsted (Lion Brand Wool Ease to be exact-1 skein (circa 200 yards) is more than enough—but any worsted weight would be suitable, if it knits to the same gauge.

One a size 6 (4 mm) needle and one size 8 (5mm) (circs or DPN’s)
5 or 6 (or 10) stitch markers.
Gauge: (will effect size!) 18 stitches/24 rows = 4 inches/10 cm(size 8 needles)

Cast on – (I used an Open/Closed Long Tail (aka a Latvian long tail) 101 stitches. (link to my video of same) –Using the smaller needles.

Join into a round; --knit the last cast on stitch together with the first, to
A) correct count
B) make the ribbing work evenly on the pairs of stitches created by cast on
(an obsessive detail only required if you use suggested cast on--you can cast on 100 and just join!)

I just use the tail to mark Beginning of round, you can use marker if desired.

Work in 2 X 2 ribbing for 2 inches—(you can do less, but I think a deep ribbed hem looks and fits better)

Change to larger needle and increase:
Knit 10, M1 (or Knit 9, Knit front & Back) (it doesn’t matter here)—110 stitches

Work even in stocking knit for 7 rounds; Next increase:
Round 8: knit 6, *M1, Knit 11, Repeat from *, end round with K5.
(Here it does matter, and you should use a Make 1, (lifted bar type) to make the increases almost invisible) –120 stitches

Work even for 7 more rounds
Round 16: K12, *M1, Knit 24, Repeat from * end round with K12—125 stitches
(again, invisible increases are required)

Work even for 7 more rounds.
On the last round, place markers for decreases—I find that split ring or safety pin markers IN THE STITCH work better—but do as you chose!

Mark the 13th stitch, then the 38th, the 63rd, 88th, 113th, (I also like, as I am working, to mark the segments (i.e., a different color marker between stitches 25/26, and between, 50/51, etc. You want to have 5 groups of 25 stitches, with the center (13th stitch of each group) marked.

Next Round: begin decreases—decreases will be worked every other round till completion. There are 5 sets of decreases, (10 total decreases) Every other Round.

Make Raised Center Double Decrease, with the marked stitch being the center stitch of the decrease.

A Raised Center Double Decrease:
Slip 2 stitches together (both at once) as if to knit. K1, then Pass both stitches over Knit 1, (both at once) so that the marked stitch (the center stitch) is raised, and remains in center.

There are 5 sets of decreases EOR, and stitch count will decrease by 10’s—continue, working till 5 stitches remain.
Work 5 to 7 rounds of I-cord with these 5 stitches, and then bind off drawstring style.
Finish by weaving in the yarn tails.

The 5 raised decreases will create the spokes of a 5 pointed star; the beret will have a vague pentagon shape, and will easily lie flat.
If desire block, (use a small (about 10 inch) dinner plate or pot lid to block to shape.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

The Count.

I wrote this post Saturday--(and forgot to publish) updated in red)
I counted again, yesterday.
The total was number of hat stands at 87.

That doesn't include:
These 2 double knit headbands... 2 (knitting finished, but not blocked)

or this hat (1/3 or so done) (this hat is finished)
or Tracy's hat (blogless, but on Ravelry) hat.
Or ThekniftyKnitter's hat,
or TeaBird, (Melaine) hat. (I have in hand--finished--but not photgraphed.)
or Robyn's (WeeballYarns) contribuion of 4 (I plan to see her today)
Or put another way, by Tuesday, I know I will have 10 more Hats!

which brings the total to –(and I hope there will be more!) 97!

So I definitely have to get to work, finish the one I am working on, and get another one finished!
I have some hats (MY HATS) that, in a pinch, can be tossed in..

Ideally, I would like to have 1 or 2 extra—simple because it's a new year, and new month, and people move.. (so the enrollment of 105 is likely to have changed over the winter school break.)

It's been suggested that plain hats would be faster to knit.. (and it actual time, it might well be true!) but I bore easily, and the fun of knitting a double knit, jacquard pattern (OK, stripes aren't much of a pattern!) make the knitting seem quicker!)

There are a number of plain hats...but I really enjoy knitting patterned ones. I want to knit good thoughts and pleasure into each hat I knit. So more often than not, Its a not a plain hat!

(I do knit plain hats, but most often for a purpose.--not for pleasure.)

PS--the pattern for the double knit headband will be available for a free down load for the month of January--then it will be for sale.(NOT YET!--still tweeking the pattern)