Monday, January 30, 2006

Lace and cable mods

Thousands and thousands of ducks on the bay, enjoying the run of fish. I love to stand outside at night and listen to them chatter and fly about in small circles. They dive to eat and then take long naps in flotillas during the day, but night is an unsettled span of bumping into each other and freaking out and settling back down and bumping into each other...

I've been tweaking Dainty Chevron from BWII. It's a nice pattern, but I needed it to be a bit more open to blend better with the other stitch patterns in the EZasPi KAL anniversary shawl I'm knitting. I like the scale of the length and width of the repeat (8st x 10r), I like the curve to the chevron, and in this case I like the vertical lines (I'd purl them in other situations). However, there's a cluster of stitches where the points of the chevron meet a vertical line and I think it takes away from the beauty of the pattern. I experimented with continuing the yo's flanking the vertical line until the last moment, then doing a centered k5tog to dump the extra two sts. Looks good, has a bit of thickness in the k5tog, but I'm doing this in laceweight so that shouldn't be a problem.

The transition from the leafy pattern to the arrows, doubling the stitch count, was tricky. I'm not completely pleased with my solution because the arrows have little knobs and are a bit too long, so I'm going to try one more draft and then go with it before DD or I change our minds about which stitch pattern comes next...

Christine has some excellent "observations of a new spinner" on her blog. Definitely worth reading, a good review for the veterans and a helpful lesson for newbies.

The mitts for DD are finished. The photo to the left shows the left mitt inside out, always fun with cables, and the right mitt waiting for a thumb. I had a nice bit of yarn left over, but I expected that since have five skeins of this particular yarn. The axiom is that we run out a few yards from the end when there is no more yarn available and that one has plenty left over when there is an abundance...

No pattern yet because I have a head/chest cold and those ruin my math ability. Here are some of the tricks and comments that came to mind while I was knitting. If you start at the finger end, you won't end up with a truncated pattern in the panel. Start with k2p2 ribbing and do a little hidden increase on each side of the center ditch right before the first set of crosses to make the necessary stitches. Sometimes it feels more as if I'm moving the extra purls around instead of manipulating the knit ribs.

DD's hands are still growing, so she needed the finger ribbing to snug in quickly. Four rounds before the bind-off I p2tog in the nine non-panel ditches, which was just right for her paws. The original wrist cast on is 56 stitches. When I began the panel crosses (k2 over p2), I increased a stitch in the center of a palm side ditch, to compensate for the drawing in of the width during the crosses. I increased at the rate of a pair per four rounds, three times to make six additional stitches. I increased more stitches on either side of the hand, as needed, in the stockinette section, which I started just to the wrist side of the palm. I could have hidden them better, but she'll lose them so soon I didn't bother. The thumb is a bit small, as hers still is, just 15 on a holder and a bridge of 8, decreased rapidly to a total of 18 in k1p1.

The braid on the right mitt is a common one. Easy, logical, quick, and pretty. The base is k2p2 ribbing with an extra two st introduced into the central ditch. Pairs of ribs cross the purls in the first row, then cross each other in the third row. Definitely a mindless over-under. If your gauge is too snug (mine is in the mitts, but DD likes them that way), the curving outer ribs won't curve as much (and you will bend your needles!). Either a looser gauge or a snug fit will curve them into a more pleasing arc. The braids on the two mitts are very similar. The lattice on the left mitt is from Lavold's Viking book, with modifications. It is very dense and I'm going to try it next at a much more open gauge. It's also just a bit trickier used in a sweater because I'll need a vertical half panel to finish (5 lattice and 4 ovals, for instance).

To finish, an orchid from the garden. It's been such a mild winter we have ripe strawberries!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Book sale and mitts

Risa has a link to the Interweave Hurt Book Sale! I really like Don Pierce and his book, Sandy Maine's soap books, and the Companion series. I haven't thumbed through David Dean's book, but I love his work. I am an advocate of buying hurt or used books. The disposable theme of modern society really bothers me.

DD's mitts are coming along. I really want to play more with adding another rib to the uneven cable you can see on
Cindy's blog, the one flanking the center. The stitch count just didn't work for the back of DD's hand, though, so instead I'm doing a slightly different version of what I put on the back of her left hand. Should finish it this weekend and will post Monday or so.

Dee and I have been corresponding about the pattern. It is way too stiff, a real needle-bender, in Paton's Kroy on US#1's, a nice sock yarn that tends to be a bit heavier grist and sturdy. Increasing the needle size will make the cable too wide for DD's hands, so I think a finer grist is the solution. Of course this will wreak havoc with the row count, but it's easy enough to lengthen the plain ribbing or add another cable crossing to the center. (You should see what I've done to Rogue to get the length DD and I need!) One of the givens with complex cables is they are stiff. I'll see if I can figure out a good balance.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Aren't they lovely? There was a second male, but he was swimming flank and hard to catch in a photo.

A nearly finished fingerless mitt. It fits DD better, but she's at a playdate with two friends this afternoon. They are studying how to take tests more effectively, one of the other moms' ideas. The girls thought it would be fun, but then they also enjoyed making pom-poms again at knitting club today. We had a relaxing time winding balls around our fingers and thumbing through a pile of old Knitter's magazines donated by the local library. The kids had a lot to say about the designs in the magazines!

DD chose Ostrich Plumes for the next pattern in the Pi and I doubt it's going to look good after the more open modified leaf pattern. Worth a try, though -- worst thing that can happen is I frog it again.

I've been measuring and analyzing Sweater and as far as I can tell, Michelle simply flared it by tweaking her gauge. Up a needle size? I will have to email her and ask. The only place you can add stitches without messing up the proportions of the cables is in the sides, and that wouldn't give the all-around swing style of flare.

As for grading up bootees, choose easy numbers, be conservative, and take comfort in the fact that knitted fabric is very elastic. If you switch from sock yarn to sportweight, you can rapidly get into the toddler or larger size range. BTDT! I promise to write a more detailed post about this in the near future, but the essense of it is the little sock I posted had a 40 st shank and a 14/14/14 top of foot, with an overall length of 3.25" or so. Tiny feet tend to get a bit longer first, as they really do start with magnificent depth and pretty good width. Thus, you can play around with things but stepping the shank up to 44 st, and maybe a 16/14/16 would work? Add a few rows to the tongue, but still start the decreases around 9 or 10 after the pu. They are gradual steps up, and if the shank gets loose the bootees will fly happily across the room at the first kick. I really must find that strap and button pattern...

Friday, January 20, 2006

My Friend Sweater

First, two photos of my favorite sweater, aka Sweater, knit by Michelle in Austin, Texas. I wear this sweater nearly every day and adore it. It's from Two Sticks and a String, Irish wool, and the swing coat shape is perfect. One of the very best gifts I have ever received...

I've been chipping away at swatching for the three KALs listed in the sidebar. I'm not going to do the Knitting Olympics because we don't have a functioning TV. Neat idea, though! DD loves my Pi swatch but I will die of boredom knitting it (eyelet and cool math, but not enough needle interest) and am going to have to choose a lace pattern to play with before the cast-on day. I'm using variegated blue KnitPicks Merino, and I've set a parameter of using a Kiri style start and top edge since that garter strip is so easy to block.

I'm not a huge fan of swatching for the sake of swatching because I have a bad case of thrift and I'm not fond of samples. I used to be meticulous about making samples and keeping a notebook, but I have bins of samples in storage and about ten years ago that became simply enough already! This is also the first time in my life that I've been able to afford yarn without juggling the books, and I am enjoying that, but I still find ways to use any snippets longer than 1.5". Some habits are worthwhile.

This week's swatching is fingerless mitts for DD crossed with trying out some of Lavold's cables to see if I want to use them in the FLAK. Patons Kroy, US#1's, k2p2 base with a stockinette palm. I'll probably knit the FLAK with Cascade 220. Today I knit a bit of lattice. I'm having a gauge issue, but otherwise the test is running smoothly (and DD loves the cable). I knew the numerous and frequent crosses would make a stiff fabric, but I was surprised by the density. My first thought was, "Hmm, if I use this lattice in the front panel, the sweater will hang straight as a board over my little tummy and conceal it!" I am concerned, however, that my loosey-goosey moss stitch filler will looked smocked where it abuts the cables, so foresee either switching fillers or doing short rows, or both. I am also sorely tempted to make my FLAK flare like Sweater, since it really is comfortable for my body shape. The FLAK is top-down, so I'll buy enough yarn and then see how it fits as I go.

Thanks to all for the comments about the little socks. If you want a response, please leave me enough clues to find either your blog or email addy, since Blogger is no*reply. I will post more patterns as I dig them out of the files or write them. I have an especially nice, truly stay-on garter stitch crawling bootee with a strap and button, and somewhere an over-the-knee shaped baby sock. I wonder, though, if those patterns are in the KnitList pattern archives? Perhaps around 1994 or so? Helen, do you know?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Newborn Crawling Bootees

This is the pattern for the bootees I made for P's little sister. They are a perfect fit for an 8-pound baby. The pattern is easily graded up in size, and the smooth toe really matters once the little ones are old enough to creep around -- no blisters on the toes! I used leftover Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock. It's an ideal yarn for these because it is especially soft and cushy. Start by knitting the fold-down cuff, then a fold round, then turn the sock inside/right side out, knit the tongue, pick up around it, knit around down the foot, decreasing at the toe and heel (mostly double decreases with 4 st between, every other round), and grafting the seam on the sole.

US#2: Long-tail cast on 40 st. [40]
US#1: K2p2 ribbing for 14 rounds. [40]
Purl 1 round. [40]
K2p2 ribbing for 13 rounds. [40]
(K2p2) x 3, k2, start new needle, (p2k2) x 3, make 1 below purlwise. [14 + 13 + 14 = 41]
Turn sock inside/right side out. Turn and knit 13 sts, make 1 below. [14 + 14 + 14 = 42]
(Turn, p14. Turn, k14.) x 8, until the tongue is 17 rows long, ending with a RS/knit row.

Pick up 14, k14. Mark as center heel. [56]
K14, pick up 14, k7, mark center toe, k7, k28. [70]
Knit 9 rounds. [70]
This next bit looks nasty written out but is simple to knit. Decrease symmetrically at the toe and heel with four plain stitches between the decreases, every other round. First time, decrease a total of 4 sts, then twice decrease a total of 12 sts, then dec 16, then graft, taking the stitch total down in steps: 70, 66, 54, 42, 26, 0.
K31, ssk, k4, k2t, k27, ssk, k2. [67]
k2, k2t, k to end. [66]
K23, (ssk, k1) x 2, ssk, k4, (k2t, k1) x 2, k2t, k13, (ssk, k1) x 2, ssk, k2. [57]
K2, (k2t, k1) x 2, k2t, k to end. [54]
K17, (ssk, k1) x 2, ssk, k4, (k2t, k1) x 2, k2t, k7, (ssk, k1) x 2, ssk, k2. [45]
K2, (k2t, k1) x 2, k2t, k to end. [42]
K11, (ssk, k1) x 2, ssk, k4, (k2t, k1) x 2, k2t, k1, (ssk, k1) x 2, ssk, k2. [33]
K2t, (k2t, k1) x 2, k2t, k6, ssk, k2t, k11, ssk. [26]
Graft. Weave in ends. [0]

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Poor grebe

I have been frogging as much as I've been knitting lately, thus not much to show, so here are three photos of an injured grebe we saw on the beach this afternoon. In the second shot she's trying to walk and cannot get her left leg to work. There is a wonderful lady who is the liaison with the rescue service and we knocked on her door and arranged for her to keep an eye on Bird and call if she didn't rise before dark.

Here's an origami box that shows a good plan for a knitted top. The triangles would go under and tuck through. I have them set up as "over" because it shows their format better. I did get a few more inches knit on another pair of socks for my brother yesterday while spending six hours at the doctor -- the orb is as well as can be expected, which is very good news. And I got a thank you note from P's family. His little sister is healthy and wearing her bootees constantly, so I will whip out a few more pairs. It takes only a few grams of leftover Lorna's Laces, of which I have a bin.

I stopped by ArtFibers yesterday after the tests. It is such a welcoming, interesting yarn store, and the clerks are the best. AF has added quite a few luxurious yarns that aren't their usual novelty style but are practical at the same time as being truly gorgeous. They have also improved some of their laceweight gossamer yarns, which frankly I had thought couldn't get any better -- they are!!! The colourways are, as always, widely varied and exquisite. I allowed myself only ONE ball of deep green Tsuki, which was painful self-control but I've reached stash saturation and need to knit it down to size before more purchases. Of course I've been dreaming of that olive silk blend sportweight, the sage green bulky soft wool, the wide ribbon with silver horizontal lines, the two large hanks of fine mohair in the sale annex, and the other shades of the Tsuki silk/mohair I didn't buy...
Out of curiosity, I ordered some PHW "Chunky" from Elann. It is, IMO, only suited to use in fulled bags. There is almost no twist in the singles and barely enough in the ply, and the yarn compresses down to a slender sportweight. "Chunky" is a misnomer!!! The colors are lovely, so I'll cast on for a bag and let the teens at club have at it. Oh, an excellent teen knitting club activity is to make pom-poms, if only because it teaches them how to tie a square knot. It boggles my mind how few practical skills your average teen knows nowadays. I frogged that bit of fingerless glove on the needles because DD's hands have grown since I measured them last week, so the cuff was too small. No surprise there!

I've moved on to swatching for FLAK with some Cascade 220. I've decided to do it properly instead of trying to keep pace with the crowd. [Things like bootees for P's little sister are a higher priority.] I began the math today for using some Lavold open cables for the center and side panels after digging through books and sweaters to find cables I like the look of *and* want to knit. Have you ever noticed the horrible creases in some of Starmore's cabled sweaters? It looks as if they were folded and the creases need to be blocked out -- or is that just my wonky vision?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Last post was all words, so this one is only photos

Box thoughts

I really wanted to add a top to the box, but as I wrote before, then it would have been a box for *me* instead of for young P. My compromise was to work two sets of double decreases at the corners to make the lip curve in, like pottery.

Tops are heavy, thus I would have needed to use garter all the way up the sides, or drop down to size 2's (I used a mix of 4's and 5's that were at hand) or do twisted stockinette. PHW fulls beautifully, but garter takes two times through the wash cycle and doesn't compress as much, so another option is to knit the sides with a doubled strand in stockinette. From the point of view of a structural engineer, vertical ribs or rotating the fabric so the sides are knit right to left instead of bottom to top might increase the integrity of the sides.

Sara, I adore buckram, but it goes against my philosophy to introduce another form of textile when I can probably solve the problem with the original format, in this case, knitting. I hardly ever even crochet an edge, but will figure out a knitted version that satisfies the parameters. You'll find I rarely mix beadwork stitches for the same reason -- I push to do an entire piece in peyote, sometimes a modified form of peyote stitch, but about the only area where I'll step outside is to add fringe. I'm not a purist by any stretch of the definition; it's more the way my brain is wired. If I were to pull out the buckram stash, I'd never finish the knitting because I would end up building something with ONLY buckram...

I was concerned also with the variations in fulling. I rarely full by hand. I rather enjoy the surprise method of throwing the things in with the usual load of laundry (no towels, though! Lint!) and seeing what I have when the dryer dings. I have a stacking Maytag top-loading agitator that does a lovely job. However, a lid is going to shrink more than a box simply because there aren't the long sides providing stability, thus there is less resistance.

I daydreamed about hinges. I'm not fond of wool hinges, and linen cord has less of a friction problem but doesn't look right to me, not with a fuzzy wool box. I have some beautiful little glass rings that would be lovely, and matching beads could be used for embellishment. It would require hand fulling, though, as the rings would shatter in the washing machine. I have funky colorful plastic poultry leg split rings that I use as stitch markers, easily applied after fulling, just need a bit of filing with a fine nail buffer to take any rough bits off the clipped plastic ends. Not elegant, but fun, and I could find matching snippets of colorful sock yarns in the leftovers bin to knit into the sides of the box. Then there's always wire... You could make an entire box out of puka shells interlaced with silver wire, but that's beadwork!

What I really wanted to make was an integral sectioned top of four interlocking triangles, probably with little bead tassels added to the points after fulling. The tassels would act as locks. I just did an origami version and it looks as if it will work. I'll knit it and post here when it's done.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A quick box

Just a rapid omiyage for P, holding the bootees for his sister, whose grandpa says she'll arrive tonight or tomorrow. Lightly fulled PHW. Garter stitch square with slipped edges for the base, picked up around edge and purled 1 r, then stockinette with last st of each side purled to define the corners, some garter around the top with double decreases at the corners to curve the top in. It feels very good in the hand. Drove me crazy not to add more detail and color, but this needs to appeal to P, not me!

Monday, January 09, 2006

My sky

Sandy asked for sky photos. Here's the sunset from a few days ago. Nice, eh?

My current knitting isn't very interesting, just the ongoing projects in the sidebar and a little fulled box for the neighbor boy. So, here's a snap of some wonderful yarn my dear friends brought me from Mexico.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

First breath of spring

A photo of the first plum blossoms.

And another bit of spring. A friend in the neighborhood is due to have a little girl this next week. Newborn size, Lorna's Laces Daffodil, US#2 long-tail co 40, US#1 14 r k2p2 rib, purl 1 r, k2p2 rib 12 r (longer if you prefer -- I wanted the foldover cuff to cover the transition), k2p2 for 26 st, m1pwbelow. Turn sock inside out. Turn work and knit tongue, k13, m1below. Turn, p14. Continue in stockinette until 17 rows from base of ribbing, ending RS. Pick up 14 st, k14. Marker at back of heel if needed. K14, pick up 14, k14 across tongue, k28 [70]. Knit around until 9 r from pu, or so. Work decreases at toe and heel every other round, with 4 st between. I did [66, 54, 42, 30] and in the round following [30] decreased the four toe and four heel stitches as ssk, k2t [26]. Graft. Easily graded up by lengthening tongue and picking up a few more stitches, and in larger sizes increase the circumference of the cuff. However, keep in mind that tiny feet really are small and often half the length is the ankle/cuff. Older tiny feet become 1/3 ankle and 2/3 tongue in length. These are 3.5" long relaxed and stretch easily (LL gives softly) to 3.75", which is the classic 0-6 month size.

I'm hoping to get something fun knit for her big brother, too. Perhaps a knitted box influenced by David Chatt's divine beadwork...
KAL swatches. Double moss filler, 18 sts/4" with US#5's and PHW, but DD and I like the hand and will probably just tweak the FLAK to suit. Still not pleased with the various cast-ons I've tried for CIT, I think because the twisted rib distorts the line. More yet to try!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Bucket Hat

My friend Heather has asked for two of these, in cotton. I am going to have to improve my crocheting skills!!! Any recommendations on yarn??? Also, where would one buy the wire that is inserted a few rows inside of the brim?

And no, Claudia, I don't sleep, not like a normal person anyway. A few hours some nights, maybe seven on others. On good days I get a bit of a nap in the afternoon. I am still learning how to sleep...? And yes, I do knit in the dark while lying in bed.

Our DSL is wonky so posts might be sparse for a bit.