Friday, March 29, 2013

I've Been in a Funk

And have been working hard to get out.

Bought a new toy (a Nook e-reader/tablet (the Nook HD)--and got a great bargain.
I had 2 gift cards ($25 gift cards for B&N), and $100 gift. When I got to B&N (yes, I went to a brick and mortar store—really a brick building!) There was an unadvertised sale--($40 off) so with all the taxes (Over 8% in NYC), and all the savings, the Nook ended up costing me under $100. It's an early birthday gift to myself—Next up is filling the Nook with books (there is a long list and it grows all the time of things I want to read!)

I found a new cast on, too, and added a new video to my web page. Every time I think I have learned every cast on there is, yet another comes along! 58 cast ons on my list, and several edits done to make the pages easier to read (more to come!)

I even got some sewing done (not much, just overcasting the edges on next project—a denim vest) and sorted through fabrics. I search some boxes and found more fabric I forgot I had!) and planned what fabric is going to become what—I have so much fabric! 

 After the vest, a denim skirt, and a indigo blue jumper. After that-- well then there are LOTs of ideas to chose from. But I haven't finish anything in the past few weeks.

Got laundry done—Washed, dried and folded--
but I have been getting dresses every day from the clean laundry basket.. I haven't quite gotten it put a way (a week now!)--except for the socks. (and my sock bin is overflowing!)

I been out, and seeing friends, and doing all I can to get back my groove.. and haven't been very successful.

Finally, in the past few days, I have gotten some knitting done—not much—but each row I do, encourages me to do another. The lace is emerging from the fancy edge—and every row is getting shorter.. 10 rows in means,  there are 20 fewer stitches per row—and it only gets better with every row.   

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


A few years ago, I went public with one of my knitting obsessions*--Cast ons.   I started listing all the different cast ons that I knew. My first list had 34 cast ons... and it was almost immediately obsolete—and jumped to 40.

In the next few years, 40 climbed to 48—and stayed there for a while. Then, it jumped again to 50. Fifty became 51, 52, and 53 in short order.

It was sometimes hard to find the list here on my blog--so I made my web page primarily to make the list and links to the cast on videos easier to find. 

Now the list is jumping again. Fifty three jumped to 57 in a few weeks, and now, the list is going up again—58!

This newest cast on comes from CraigH on Ravelry, (via his mother) and is another version of long tail
It's a cast on half way between a standard long tail and a channel island cast on. A missing link of sorts!

The cast on—like the channel island cast on, has a twisted base –(the two yarn of the cast on twist)
but unlike the Channel Island, no YO stitch, and a much finer knotted base stitch. The cast on is both attractive and stretchy.

So here we go again with another cast on for you to try and perhaps add to your repertoire.

*I have other knitting obsessions..Like socks and hats, and leaf motifs, and double knitting, and (when you have been knitting for over 50 years, you can have a new obsession every 10 years or so--and have quite a collection after a while!) Learning about every method of cast ons is just my most recent.

(As an aside, the edging is done on the bottom up shawl, and stitch patterns for the panels have been selected, but nothing has been knit)  

Friday, March 15, 2013


NOTE: The Link has been updated.

  Doesn't the shawl look pretty all bunched together and ruffled up? It looks pretty stretched out, too. But for the moment, that difficult to do. 552 stitches fit better on the needle than 732 (and knit up faster too!) but it's still not possible to stretch out the edge very much. In another dozen rows, it will be easier. With every row, for that matter it will be easier!

The edging is almost done—just 3 more rows (the beading) and I'll be ready to start the body of the shawl. Then it will be 4 decreases, every other row. If I start with about half the stitch count (240) and and half the decreases, (2) and simplify 2 decreases every other row, to 1 per row.. 240 rows from now I'll be done!

Normally, I get about 8 rows to an inch—but with lace (and a much larger needle!) I'll easily get 10 rows to an inch—240/10=24 inches (a nice deep shawl) Blocking it will easily add another 12 inches. So I can expect a 36 inch deep shawl! It's going to be a big shawl—a real shawl, not a little shawlette/shaped scarf. I've planned on using 3 skeins—but just to be sure, I have 2 more—In case they are needed. If I don't need them—the extra skeins will become a pair of socks!

I still haven't settled on a pattern--stitch pattern that is.   The shape is a modified triangle. There will be a center back panel (60 stitches) that will slowly be decreased till there are half that number, plus 2 triangular wedges either side of the center back panel—sort of like a Shetland shawl shape. I am thinking of one pattern for the center back, and other pattern for the 2 triangular wedges. My groups of stitches have lots of factors—so I have lots of choices!
Last night on Ravelry, some one asked about an other—new to me-- cast on (they wanted a matching bind off.) So I played with the cast on—and with the selvage some one suggested. --OOPs--I miss read the post.. It was for a matching bind off--which I didn't try.  (Maybe I'll make a swatch later or tomorrow) 

I also  made a video of the cast on--since I know sometimes, it's easier to learn visually--and so you can see what the cast on edge looks like.   You can also get an idea form the images of the swatches.

The first one is  with stocking knit immediately after the cast on, and the second one with seed stitch (I didn't do a ribbed swatch, but the results would be similar to the seed)
On the second (seed stitch swatch) I tried 2 different selvage stitches.(see OOPs)

The left side is the selvage suggested on the Ravelry thread. (see the big Opp's above!) 

The right side is another selvage stitch—which is a slightly better match . This selvage stitch is a basic YO, K2tog, every row.  (There is a much better image of the cast on edge, and selvage on the video).

I am not enamored with this cast on. Well,  not as a general cast on. It it could work for socks—It is rather stretchy, and it does look nicer when stretched out. And it does looks better if you follow the cast on edge with any knit and purl combo—be it ribbing or seed stitch.--It is very similar to the TilyBuddy cast on--which is also a pretty cast on, and one that looks especially good with either 1 X 1 ribbing or 2 X 2 ribbing. Since this cast on is so similar, I suspect, it too would look good with either 1 X 1 or 2 X 2 ribbing.

I am always interested in stretchy, attractive cast ons for socks—this one might work for that. It might also for a baby blanket. But since the cast on edge wants to draw in (and this is why it looks good with ribbing or seed stitch) I don't think it would really be a good choice for blanket--unless you began or ended the blanket with ribbing.   It might work for other baby items—a hat say.

And of course, this video of cast on has been added to the collection of cast ons known to me on my web page—so you can always find it again easily.  If you haven't visited my web page recently, do stop by.  There are new cast ons and new videos. (and lots of little details edited to make it easier to read).

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Lighter, Faster, Easier

 At Tuesday night knitting, as I frogged a thousand odd cast on stitches, Liz—quite rightfully asked- You know a mess of cast ons, and you did the wrong one?

Yes—Knowing (about, and how to do) a cast on doesn't always mean that you know the right cast on for a project. Sometimes you need to swatch, and sometimes you need to rethink.

My problem was I KNEW the effect I wanted, and I got it into my head to with the wrong words.

Do you know what I mean? Sometimes I will say KNIT—when what I really mean is WORK THE STITCHES (as appropriate—i.e., Knit the ribbing (or rather work K1, P1 for X inches)

But sometimes, new knitters hear KNIT –and think, OK, and knit. (every stitch, every row).. and wonder why their project doesn't look right. But I fell into the same trap!

I had an edging that I thought of as cast on X, bind off Y—and I did that--a kind of picot cast on edge.  As I proceeded, I liked the results less and less. I disliked the heaviness of the cast on edge --binding off made a double thick edge at places. I also found it tedious to do--not helped by a cold weather split in my thumb finger nail that was right down to the quick—and made it uncomfortable to pick up and bind off the stitches. Using a needle tip would have been just as awkward.

It was slow going, and I was making all this effort to create an edge, I really didn't like!

I experimented—and tried using a crochet hook—it helped a bit—it was a bit easier, and a bit faster, but the edge was just as heavy. The solution came to me as I headed for bed... Not quite a dream—but in those last fleeting moments of consciousness. (That was Monday night.) So Tuesday I frogged, and yesterday I started again. By last night, I had completed the cast on, and row 1. This morning, row 2 (an easy row—purl every stitch). Row 3 is done now, too.  Row 4 is another easy all purl row. Row 5 will be a decrease row--(the count is now 732, and by the end of row 5, 552) and the end of the edging—well almost the end—there will be a simple set of beading* before the beginning of the shawl pattern and decreases

*By beading—I mean a lace pattern--
R1—purl (on right side)
R2--K2tog, YO (repeat)

Which will bring the border up to a total of 8 rows. A nice little edging. Then placing markers, the plan will be a slightly modified triangle shawl—4 decreases every right side row, until there are just a half dozen stitches of the border left and they will be grafted together.

The new cast on edge uses a crochet cast on—well a finger crochet—no hook involved. I don't think there is a person in the world who doesn't know how to make a simple chain using their fingers—and this simple chain can be worked as a cast on edge, too. Its fast, it's easy and it was the perfect choice for my edge!

Here is the prototype (top of image) —pretty but the lower edge is a bit heavy-below  is the new edge (it's changed again—so the lace looks different)  The new edge hasn't been blocked—so it doesn't look as good—but clearly, the bottom edge of the lower edging  is lighter, and lacier, (and easier and faster!)

I made a video of the finger loopcrochet cast on—If you are not a fan of working with a crochet hook (or don't own an array of crochet hooks), you can still make a nice crochet cast on edge—just using your fingers.

PS—my most popular video—The Italian method (of a tubular cast on) is edging up—97,000 hits!
I better get cracking and get some kits together as prizes for when it hits 100,000—its coming soon.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Less Than NOT Knitting.

That's right, frogging. I finally got the thousand some odd stitches cast on for the bottom up shawl, and I decided I didn't like the cast on edge. My dislike had been growing with each stitch I cast on, until, just a few repeats before I was done, I pulled it off and undid it. It took a while!

I've started again,--25 of 90 repeats done-- and I am much, much happier with the edge.

Same thing happened with my hat inspired by Lucy Neatby. I cast on late at night, and made a mistake and worked both sides of the hat in stocking knit (a pretty standard sort of double knitting.) The original design called for stocking knit on the inside, and reverse stocking knit on the outside.. I was willing to let that mistake go—after all the hat still looked pretty. But as I worked on it—it seemed so small. I was perplexed.. Yes, I was working with a DK weight yarn—but I had cast on extra stitches.. It should be big enough I kept thinking. Why was the hat so small it looked baby sized?

One sunny morning—it hit me like a brick. Yes, I had cast on extra stitches.. 120 in total.. Only.. with double knitting this worked out to 60 stitches per side—or baby sized!  

Two mistakes were 1 too many. So into the frog heep it went.

My socks (From JANUARY!) are still not even half done. They haven't been frogged, (and I actually worked 2 rounds last night at Knit night) but these too have been languishing. Nothing knitting seems to catch my fancy.

I haven't done much sewing either... But I am thoroughly enjoying my red vest. I have worn it almost every day this past week. Even on day's when it was really too warm to be wearing an extra layer of clothing. Its been worn with jean's skirts, and with khaki, and with my chocolate brown one. One day it was worn with the dotty skirt. I just love it. It fits well, and looks good, and red is a good cheer me up color.

And it's worked to a degree. If not knitting, I am, at least thinking clearer, and not just plodding along.

Maybe by tomorrow I will have the shawl cast on (again), and the hat cast on again –and will have something to blog about!

Monday, March 04, 2013

Some Double Knitting

A lively discussion of some interesting double knitting techniques over on Ravelry AND Lucy Neatby's newest double knit hat final broke through my knitting miasma.

I love Lucy's new hat, Storm Mountain—and it's inspired me to make something similar—there is no pattern, or even a recipe for this hat—Read Lucy's blog, and if you understand her hat, you can understand my hat—Then you can knit something similar—making use of similar techniques. Something of your own--Cause isn't that just what knitters do? See and follow, and make changes along the way?

Double knitting sometimes allows you to have twice the fun—and you can create some really interesting textures--Ms Neatby has been doing scads and scads of double knitting of late--and exploring different textures--via different stitches, and different yarns, and all sorts of ways.. And she is not the only one.. Double knitting techniques are very popular (Just 15 years ago, (those pre internet days!) it seems double knitting was less know, and not nearly as interesting!)

My hat (there isn't much of it) is Mountain Spring. The colors in the yarn inspired the part of the name, (the mountain part is taken from Lucy's hat) The colors of this long color stripe yarn—(Austermann's  Smaragd Classic Color)—are soft purples--(there are so many early flowers in pastel shades of purple—and this yarn has two) and yellow green (so many new bud are pale green) and splashes of pink—another spring color. The inside, is snowy white, punctuated  narrow bands of spring colors. Its done in stocking knit on both sides (vs Ms Neatby's reverse stocking knit)—and this one change makes a lot of other changes... So it looks very different—but much of the texture comes from her design. (But to be honest, the texture isn't all that obvious yet.) 

I'll get this hat done in a hop skip and a jump, and them return to the several projects project that have been languishing.

And I'll keep up with my sewing, too. Today is a beautiful day (as was yesterday) and even the threat of snow later this week doesn't have me down—but I am glad to have a finished (OK, so it is not really finished at this point, but since my machine does automated buttonholes, making them, and sewing on the buttons --(something I still always do by hand) take the smallest effort; It's as good as done).

The vest is a nice layer to add—to keep warm on lovely, sunny, clear (but cold and windy) days like today.   It's chilly even in my apartment—The wind does that—it works in cold air at every crack—and while things are general well sealed—I do leave a few windows open the merest crack for fresh air. Normal, you'd never notice--but when there are a few windy days in a row, things do tend to get cooler.  But that's March isn't? 

After the red vest, the denim one, and the denim skirt. My father teased me a few year ago, and commented I still dress as I did when I was a teenager—and that is largely true –and not just of me. He still dresses as he did when he was a young adult! Most of do. There have been studies done that show many of us establish a style in our late teens—and basically keep that style for most of our adult life.

When I was a teen, I wore mostly skirts. There was a dress code in NYC public schools that required girl to wear skirts—even culottes that looked like skirts were prohibitted—for most of my HS years. I tended to wear jeans, (and cords) after school and on weekends.. But not always-- I sometimes wore skirts all day on a Sunday. I still wear skirts. Not always denim blues—but the same colored twills that I favored then are still a staple in my wardrobe.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Seeing Red

Oh, now this is what I had in mind when I went searching for a vest pattern...A classic.

I bought the best pattern I could find (at the time), and now with a big pile of craft paper to play with—I have re shaped the pattern and have something closer to my ideal.

First off, a V-neck. (the lowered round neck was OK, but I like this V neck much better!), with a notched hem. Sure you can make (and I did make--5 of them!) a vest with a straight hem, but I like the look of a notched hem so much better. This notch isn't perfect (but I have more craft paper, I can change it yet again!) but it's OK. No better than OK. Not perfect, but a nice improvement.

Then there are pockets. These are the fanciest yet. Inset—because inset is so much prettier and more tailored looking than patch pockets –or at least they are in my opinion! This time with a flap—a notch flap that echo's the notched hem.
I like to change up minor details as I make versions of basic pattern.  Pockets are an easy place to make changes.  They are not big pockets.. but big enough for a cell phone --a smart cel phone--not that I have one.  Not the top of the line (practically notebook sized ones) but most smart phones. 

Actually one pocket (on the inside)  is bigger than the other, and the phone will only fit in one pocket—but that's a minor detail.--I always end up cutting pockets from the scraps, and sometimes they don't end up the same size. The flaps are both the same size--so the inside detail matter less.

I get better and better with each inset pocket I make. I haven't decided yet if the pocket flaps will get buttonholes and be button down or not—but since I don't have enough buttons at the moment—for now they will be just flaps.

Obviously, still not done—there are buttonholes and buttons (and off stage, a pair of side seams) to sew—and the will be a few inches of lining to hand sew after the side seams get sewn.

I am so happy about this vest. I love the color—so bright and cheerful—and it will go with so much!
It's a natural with denim, or black (that I just finished.) Plus,  I have some black denim somewhere in my pile of fabrics.  It will go with navy--(navy fabric awaits)--a navy skirt and navy T shirt will look great with this--(and for a patriotic look, I can don a white T shirt)  It will look great with my dotty set—too. Really changing the look of that  outfit when I sub a solid red vest for the print one. Just as the diamond brocade knit vest changes the look.  And I have other outfits that can stand a splash of red.

I haven't done a stitch of knitting. I have it handy, I look at it, and Meh, I just have no interest for the moment. But I love seeing red.

Friday, March 01, 2013


Well, almost done—the skirt still needs an inside button and hook and eye at the waist band, and the vest needs a stitch or two in the lining—and both pieces need a final pressing. The front of the vest needs the white chalk marks (for button hole placement) brushed off, too—something I hadn't really notice till I took the photo!

But the black thread is off the machine,and the red thread is on—complete with a red bobbin. Plus, the denim version of the vest has been cut--(I have a plentiful supply of denim blue thread—and 2 full spools of a gold top stitching thread—for finishing details.)  One of these days, I am going to spring for a flat felled seamer foot for my sewing machine.  (No doubt, it will be the day after I finish up my current supply of denim!)  I do really like flat felled seams.. and a special foot makes them much easier to do (i make mock flat felled seams. 

So next up is sewing up the red vest, followed by the denim one, and maybe denim skirt, too, before I cut the next sewing project. The next denim skirt will be a pieced on—I am still working my way through the pile of fat quarters I snagged at a garage sale some 3 years ago—a great big bag of goodies, that is still being worked. After this, I might cut the quarters and piece them—There are well over a dozen fat quarter left—but only one or two of a weight/shade of blue. Not enough to make a full outfit out of any single piece.--but there are a enough these odd fat quarters—so something can be done with them. I just have to work out how!

I commenced casting on my sparkly blue shawl—34 groups so far--(of the 90 I need) Row 1 will reduce the stitch count almost by half—When I finally get to row 1. The cast on is slow and tedious--It's not a standard cast on, (Well it is and it isn't)  in case you hadn't guessed—you can begin to see the lace picots already.

The first part of this project was cutting a hundred or so stitch markers—I started with a red drinking straw—and carefully snipped 1/16 of straw off—again and again—until all of the straw was gone. I am not counting the stitches--but rather each group of stitches that form the pointed lacy picot I check each group before I place a marker--and make sure each group is correct (if not, well its not hard to undo a dozen cast on stitches and to do them again.) 

Tuesday—I worked on the cast on  in the doctors waiting room, and then later at Knit night—I couldn't find my little tin that held all the stitch markers—and ended up cutting more. (thankfully I had a spare drinking straw handing in my project bag.) I was really bummed out. Its tedious to cut the straw into 1/16 of inch ring, and I REALLY liked the little green tin (Do you recognize it? Trader Joe's Green Tea mints—which I don't really like—I just like the tin!)

At the end of the night when I went to pay my bill—I found it! I had in haste, tucked the tin into my purse, not the into my project bag when we left the doctors office.

Wednesday was busy—B is home now, and still can't drive—so I have been his chauffeur—I don't mind—I get to use his car for my errands, too. What with my doctors appointment,  and his need for a trip to the pharmacy to pick up prescriptions, and then a trip to supermarket—mostly for him--(I picked up some frozen spinach—it's one of my staple greens these days)--Well,  no sewing got done.. and no knitting either.

I am still “off” I am having trouble sleeping (a rare thing for me) and having trouble working up the energy to do anything in the day... I want to start something new—but nothing has jumped out and said KNIT ME—Not a pattern, not a skein of yarn. Even the 2 skeins of white sock yarn haven't called out to be dyed into some new and different color way.

Even my sewing is going slow. But Spring will soon be here. And slowly the days will be long than the nights, and I will perk up.