Tuesday, January 30, 2007

there are always more fish .....

Its wednesday, 2nd week back at work, albet short days 9-3 due to 'holiday' child care hours for my under 5, but work none the less. And I have a heavy head cold, the kind where the front of your face aches, and feels full, and your brain is numb. Still while I don't feel up to playing multiple rounds of connect four, or candy land or other games with my wee ones so they are rejoicing in the extra tv time, I can knit mindlessly- so knit I have been.

First up Toby's hat, finished, knit late-but-sort-of along to the podcasted instructions, it fits, and is all washed, blocked, dried, pom-pomed, and folded away in a drawer awaiting winter. I got the decreases wrong, thinking in error that a that I had planned a standard k2 tog to give me a clock-wise spiral. Well no, it didn't, and I had thought about that for more than a 30 seconds when i wrote my last post, I do realise why. Anyway by the time I noticed it seemed to late, then I realised that there was no rule that said hat decreases couldn't zig or zag - so switched to the ssk decrease, and the result is this bent arm 8 legged spider top to the hat. Measuring ear lobe to ear lobe, and Toby having a small head means this hat is 'generous', but that is not a bad thing he is 7 and will grow. I blocked the hat over a pink balloon, inflated to the same size or a tad smaller than Toby's head, and left it to dry amongst our collection of brass vases. This means the folded up cuff will be set in place. the added pom-pom is a tad retro, but Toby insisted, and he made this one. Notice my increasingly sophisticated photoshop skills, managing to construct a serries of images for the blog from one, all matching in image size and resolution- she says modestly.

Fish, I have been fascinated by the fish afghan which pops up on knitters review and other blogs over the last few years. Apparently the original was published in a knitters magazine (not one I know personally but is considered good), and is not in the public domain. This is an blog with one knit to the original recipie, which seems to be larger and with eyes, and is joined by crochet. I did find a link to a german version which seems the same as the one I used. I printed a recipe out from the net last year and pasted it in the back of my workbook. It has now been removed from the www world. There is a good knitters review discussion on this. I decided this project would be a great way to use up the little bits of fine yarn left over from socks. I just can't bring myself to throw so little bits out, and yet there is no way I can get another pair of socks from the remains, nor am I likely to knit a composition sock of mis matched remains. I do have some aesthetic sensibilities. I'm not alone in this, as fibrephile was knitting hers in sock yarn also, but that was Jan 2006, by March she was up to 46 fish, and now we are a year latter. I did find a Lucy Neatby tessalated workshop image that fascinates me, but don't feel up to it in several ways, visually, colour matching or just plain following the necessary graphs. Imagine the pre planning!

The pattern I used is this pretty much the one here reverse enginered by AprilBrokenArrow. Sock yarn on 2.25 mm dpns. I have knit around 28 fish so far, this image was taken when only 21 were done. Not sure how big the blankie will be, but the fish are quick to knit. I can knit between 5 and 7 of an evening. There have been some reports of the fish not lying flat, but this pattern results in flat fish, especially after blocking. I do wonder if what lies flat in sock yarn would curl in heavier yarn. In my muddled mind I clearly see that the differences in the lengths of the edges and shaping is far smaller in a small fish than in a large fish - larger fish would need different shaping. This lady has worked out a version for heavier yarns where all the increases and decreases are at the edges. I am using a long tail cast on (not twisted) and a sewn bind off so both the ends looks the same. In hindsight I realise that a chain style cast on and a chain cast off would make all the edges of the fish match, the sides have a chain resulting from slipping the first stitch purlwise. I don't care enough to re knit these fish, but if I were to start another blanket might consider it. Each fish takes 9m of yarn, including a generous cast on and cast of thread, so a real left over project.

I did start to wonder about the fish, if they could be knit in a strip. Not sure if you can tell, but one of the pink fish here were knit tail to nose, while all the other fish were knit nose to tail. It was a very simple pattern to reverse. What I did learn was that tail down fish end up with a straight tail, while nose down fish have a curve to their tail. This is because my cast off was tight, an observation lost on me until I compared to two fish. The fish knit after that observation have much straighter tails.

Co-joined Fish, Simese fish, or knit-as-one Fish Afghan play around.
So my little play last night was to see if I could knit the blankie as a whole with no seaming - why? well I'm not sure why. I honestly don't know but it seemed a good idea at the time. I haven't sewn any of the sock yarn fish together yet, so don't know if seaming will be a problem. I read some where whip stitch not matress, and others have crocheted. As I said I don't know why, probably lack of clear and critical reasoned thinking due to coldrex day and night tablets and lack of sleep the night before due to blocked nose and coughing. Anyway here is my result, note please the way I even bothered to slip the first stitch of the co-joined fish which resulted in a chain edge, not necessary, not planned but very pretty. Sometimes not thinking to much makes a nice effect. Notice also the neat interlacing of yarns on the reverse side. It would be possible to knit a blankie like this with no seaming. And again I am tempted. The down side here is that it would be a preplaned blanket, knowing where each colour would go. For me this scrap sock yarn fish afghan blankie is more in the tradition of granny quilts, those made from fabric scraps saved and resused. However I am not discarding entirely the notion of a planned version latter, maybe in sea blues, or monochrome black, white and grey?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

more little things, and I have 'stash'

One more little thing flies off the needle, odd really as we were away for 3 days and I forgot to take any knitting. That was not planned - I was 30 minutes up the motorway en route to my dads, at around 10am friday, when I realised the knitting bag did not get in the car with us. I dithered, and then thought, "there is a yarn shop in Waimate, its open saturday, will buy more cotton - maybe in black and white and new bamboo needles and start second wash-cloth". Seemed an ok plan, but no, no cotton yarn to be had. Well expensive fine cotton, and none at all in black or white, and my cash budget was tight, we are after all only bare weeks after christmas splurges. I plan to work in cash this year and save seriously for this new toy this year. Time to get back to a SLR and the lenses have been getting rave reviews. My last pentax was a medium format so huge and very serious. It had a certain ka-thunk when the shutter came down, and was usually the most serious camera in use at any event. I got lots of male attention and camera envy. I really did enjoy using it until 120 film became to difficult to process locally, then it went off to a new owner and job as a wedding camera. And there is at least one other knitters review knitter/spinner in Waimate as I discovered from Kathyr's comment, thanks.

When I came back, after not knitting for 3 whole days and 2 evenings, I finished the washcloth in striped garter stitch. I am not totally happy with the way the ends are woven in, but it was late, last night and I was keen to finish. Next time I will think about splitting the yarn into finer sections and weaving these in separately. I am stoked about the way the kitchener stitch went, invisable and looking like it was just knit as a whole, no begining, no end - apart from the weaving in tell-tale signs. I unravelled the long tail cast on edge, to free ups loops, it went rather easily and gave just the right amount to kitchener the ends closed. I know i should have done a provisional, but it worked strangely well and easily. I do love the way the stripes work, they don't quite meet at the diagonals but close enough. I do love the way the yarn forms a rope effect at the edge when the new colour is always picked up under the old one, and the way the stripes differ on the front and back.

I got a parcel in the mail Saturday, my new needle cases
, which was nice, less than a week from the order being processed. They came from Nancy, who was really nice about postage options given that it cost extra to ship to New Zealand. I may have been a tad over optimistic, as I have only filled the two wee ones and half a tall one. I don't want to put my 'el cheapie dpns' in these, as they don't have sizes printed on, I really need to make slip in lables first or I will never know what is where. Still now I prefer to work in wood they just might fill up fast, I feel more Brittany's and Addi bamboos are calling me.

Been working on Toby's hat
, to match the Kangaroo sweater (see earlier posts), have completed the ribbing, and about to start the decreases. I have a nice wide and thick turn up brim, to make sure his wee ears are warm in winter winds.
A warm, thick, double layer of knit ribbing. I am still working to the verbal pattern on the ready set knit podcast, so for the crown will try the decreasing every 2nd row, in 8 equal sections. Planning to decrease SSK, so it will be a clockwise spiral.

I got so inspired by the stripes in the wash cloth, in turn inspired by the vertically striped hat mentioned last week.
I kept imagining it in black and white, so went searching for cotton yarn in Waimate. No luck, but found some Tuesday when back in Dunedin. Monday was a no go day, first day back at work, new temporary 'office'. 9-3 due to limited school holiday care for my 4.5 year old. I am camping in an unused ex-classroom on a 3rd floor while they renovate an entire building for our school. Tricky bit is that the room I have been temporarily housed in is being renovated as I work there. Very nice workmen keep asking if I am going to be there all day, and if I mind some noise. So far it has been ok, as I have a new toy, a brand new laptop all of my own - supplied by work. So day one was about collecting and signing for it, getting all the cables, extra mice, and docking stations and connecting wirelessly. Day two was problems solving printing and connecting to shared servers. Day three I had a meeting and cell mate, so a more social day - two cafe coffees. This toy is only temporary - there is a more wizzy one in the pipeline - more info when it arrives. Should be really - really cool.

I have stash, or st ... the beginings of stash.
Any way I found black and white cotton, dk weight at my LYS, and started wash cloth II
, don't you just love the way the short rows and the stripes make the curve when all the stitches are on one needle? I am also very pleased with my needle shortening handywork, as you can see in the image - just like a bought one! Of couse now the needles/pins are to short to knit anything but a mitred wash cloth or dolls house blanket - but I didn't think of that before. And this is my new favourite wash cloth pattern so that may not be an issue. I plan to play with the stripes a little more, wider, wide and narrow, more colours - could be fund. The black and white yarn is John Q Designer 8 ply cotton crepe. Cheap and cheerful.

I also sucumbed to a lighter weight cotton in white and mid blue
. A finer weight yarn, from Panda 4 ply intended for 3.25 needles - which is what I am knitting the dk weight on. Will have to swatch and see what needle size works best for this. I do like a 'firm guage' but it can make for a heavy wash cloth that holds a lot of water. Wonder if I should try the recomended guage some time ....

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

more little knitted things

So the last weekend of my holiday looms, and the kids and I are planning to drive north to Waimate to visit my dad - aka Grandad. He is in his 70's and moved north to warmer climes to keep his vintage truck (1930-40 brittish bedfords) and tractor(Case tractors only) collection from rusting. Of course he now lives 10 mins from a beach and we don't mention salt air causes rust, nor do we mention the last 2 years running farmers in his area have been snowed in for weeks at a time with no power or running water. Waimate for those not of New Zealand origin is a Maori place name, and pronounced Why-mat-ee. So this weeks post is a tad early, as he has not comes to terms with a mobile phone, let alone a computer or the 'net'.

I am begining to think this might be a year of small projects, little things, not any less complicated but of short duration. Then again it just might be holiday lag, and a real project will be required once work and the year resume full strength again. Unusually for me I have two projects on the go at once. Widdershins is finished, has been worn and washed. The second sock fitted as nicely as the first - so both my feet must be simillar! They were a snug and warm fit under a pair of army green converse hi-tops. I forgot to photograph them in use, so the image today is of them in wash. I don't usually hand wash hand knit socks, but was washing something else - so in they went.

Next little project was a blanket for Poppy's dolls houseout of the last of the pink mint Merino yarn used earlier. I had been cruising knitty and came across the recipie for Mrs Hoovers baby blanket by Kristi Porter. I readily admit to being a technique junkie so wanted to try, and using the last of the merino to knit a blanket for the dolls house seemed a good idea. I've double knitted before, and that part was sucessful as you can see, but the use of a 2nd colour on the reverse tested me somewhat. I eventually worked out the twist required to secure the second colour to the blanket, but did not like the way the green twists showed thru for the first half of the blanket. So frogged - just like the blog title. I also realised that while a nice technique it would be a little heavy for the dolls house, more of a mattress than a blanket, so knit up a mock patchwork blanket in my favourite dish cloth pattern. Alternate squares of stocking and reverse stocking stitch, 5 stitches and 6 rows, on 2.5mm knitting pins, with a slipped stitch edge. You might just notice little double knit pillows at the head of the bed - I couldn't quite let the technique go without a use. The wee wooden doll is Poppy, she lives there with other dolls like Jack, atomic betty, Polly Pocket, Barbies little sister Kelly and friends, and many many MacDonalds toys, my little pony, more polly pockets and some pupies.

The other wee 'tidy' up project is a hat for Toby to match the kangaroo sweater. I have been listerning in to the Ready-set-knit podcast, I am only caught up to episode 4 or 5, which for them is just before christmas. Its a two part podcast per week, with part two starting with a knit along for a design your own hat and then moving to problem solving with Pixie - their in house knit-expert. She is good. The hat issues inspired me to start my Toby's hat. I already had my guage swatch done for the sweater, and had used 3.25 mm pins, but for some reason automatically went down a size to 2.5mm pins for the hat rib. Just about every pattern tells you to do that, so it is an automatic response in some way. Result was a 'pop-off' hat, one that would stay on for a minute before slowley but surely narrowing and sliding off the top of the head. Luckily I worked this out around 4 inches in. So two frogs this post. Not sure if it is the smooth worsted yarn, the Bamboo Addi dpns I am using, or the use of singe rib, but I unusually have a serrious problem with laddering on this project. It will be hidden by the deep fold up brim/cuff, but my usual fix of tightening the first 2-3 stitches on the needle is not working. A few machine washes should take care of it.

Funny how making new things always sparks a web search to see what else in the same genre is out there. Searching for hats, i came across this wee gem at knitty by Brooke Higgins. She designed it to counter all the hats with horizontal stripes, and it seems a good modern solution for my man this winter. I am not keen on acrylic, but maybe in a two toned lofty wool or merino or even cashmere? Anyway I was so intrested I had to knit one right now, but being stash deprived, had to be creative. I realised that it would make a great dish-cloth pattern. So out come two untouched balls of magic garden cotton from my tiny teeny stash - I kid you not - my stash consists of 2 balls of wool/cotton/lycra sock yarn in a bright orange and purple ugly colourway, 2 balls of magic garden and a bohus rose collar kit. My real stash is books, knitting books, fashion theory books, patternmaking books, garment construction books, fashion history books, tailoring books, fashion inspiration books, knitting social history books, and vintage versions of all of these.

So the dish cloth details, 30 stitches, size 3mm bamboo needles, first corner I forgot to slip the first stich of the return row, and ended up with a rather bulky junction of the stripes - but 2nd corner is under way now and is looking much neater. The hat recipie knitted with a double ply of yarn, but not for this dish cloth, the neat trick is to always twist the yarns the same way at the end of the row and you get a neat rope effect along the edge. I know I should have provisional cast on, and kitchenered the ends together, but with the stripes am hoping the join will be hidden by the optical illusion of the stripes. Using circulars and the wee short 5" brittany's has made me slightly and surprisingly intolerant of long straight needles, I ended up taking a craft knife and sand paper to my bamboo straight knitting pins, shortening them to better fit a dish cloth. A polish with wax and good as new and easier to use.

Friday, January 12, 2007

lots of little things ...

Well nearly back to normal. Still on leave from work for another week, so a temporary 'stay at home mom', we bake, we go to the park, we walk to the local shops for a loaf of bread, we feed ducks, we hang out washing and sit on the swing. Life is slow and kind of easy - could I do this full time ? - no! I need the challage of my work, my research, and adult company. Still for short periods of a few weeks it is good. Bedtime is also good, as is another adult coming home to talk to and help parent.

Spent time today tidying wee Poppy's room, purchased some storage cubbies, as kitsets, and assembled these. The households two menfolk were macho busy elsewhere, big one was mowing the lawn, and the little one was busy with a Finding Nemo game on the computer. So we got to be furniture assembly girls without any males taking over.
Then the wee one and I sorted toys. Would Maisy mouse and her clothes live in the green cubby or the pink one? Atomic Betty, did she need a cubby close to the dolls house or a bigger cubby further away. Was the $2 shop doll the same sort as Barbie? Could she live in the same basket on a shelf? And the answer was yes after some discussion - it surprised me that Barbie was seen as different to the cheap tart with too much blue eyeshadow and whose legs fall off all the time (leggless!) from the $2 shop - but Poppy (aged 4 and a half) has no preconcieved notions of Barbie and feminism, so argued she was 'better' for playing with therefore different.

At several times Poppy sighed deeply and said " I've just got too much toys". She is right, in a small way, a spoilt we girl, especially a few weeks post christmas. Imagine that - to many toys. and her mum has a 'new' antique swift, a complete set of 5" Brittney, and new jewellery, we are all spoilt.

latest projects, Well as you can see, Curly bear got a jersey to match Poppy's. A tiny wee pink merino raglan, knit in the round. This was made from the scraps of the jersey I knit for Poppy - known usually as Popsi-daisy, last november. Curly is a well loved bear, as you can also see below. Poppy has very blue eyes, she is a mini me, so not sure what is going on here in the digital photo with the brown ones - digital gremlins?

A few other smaller projects have been flying of the knitting pins a Nano sock, a special request from my Chris, who got a i-pod Nano version 2 for Christmas. But the silicon cases to protect it were all for version one. Version 2 is smaller and slimmer by a few mm's and the case was 'loose', baggy almost, not a good look. After shopping all over town with no luck, and internet cruising Chris found Apple sold 5-packs of 'i-pod socks'. So a formal request was made for a home made one. We have a saying that things are 'knitted with love' to make the kids appreciate my knitted gifts. The sock was made in left over Opal, and on 2mm Brittney needles. Part of my xmas gift from Chris. I was shocked at how short they were, and had thoughts of returning them, but found them a dream to knit with. The 5" length is perfect for small diameter knitting, so easy to turn, much less snagging of the ends of knitting pins on yarn as you go. The sock is shown on my older larger version 1 nano, but fitted his beautifully. On a roll from that I knit a felted bowl for my wee mans i-pod. Toby inherited Chris's old shuffle, which he uses to listern to music in bed and we are working our way thru the story podcast websites. We found the complete audio book of robinson crusoe online for free
Then for myself I have been knitting Widdershins from Knitty. Brenda Dayne - disussed her new found love of toe up socks with a full gusset and heel flap in her podcast late last year. I had tried knitting Widdershins before, but was far to clever so stuffed it up. I had used a firmer guage, so sized it up with extra stitches and got very confused half way thru the heel abou the math - I didn't write down what I did as I knit and lost my way. So that one got frogged - cables and all. No big loss cables and self patterning yarn sort of cancel each other out. My latest version is doing well, I knit it in the same Pattons patonyle yarn, cheerful but cheap, a very 'girly' self patterning colourway. No cables this time, no adjustments to the number of stitches, its just about me understanding the heel.

I tried to get gauge, using the stated 2mm dpns, but even when i when i went up to 2.5mm I got 31stitches in 4" not the required 28. I don't think i am a tight knitter, things flow and are easy, but as I knit alone (not by choice - I can't find a knitting group to join that has out of work hours meetings) I don't have anyone to compare to. Maybe Squeaky the designer is a very loose knitter? Maybe it was 3mm's? Maybe I knit tighter than tight and don't know it? Anyway I completed the toe, as a final swatch and found the stock stretched to my 9" foot ball, when it was only intended to fit an average 8" foot ball, so I continued. First sock image is of the 'backwards gusset', looks like a traditional sock but the needles are on the 'wrong' side of the gusset. I finished this in 3 days, and it fits beautifully. Havn't done a wear test yet, but looks very promising. Also in use here are the short Brittany knitting pins, easily long enough for an adult sock. Next is my foot , all size 9 or 25 cm of it neatly and very comfortably encased in Widdershins sock, The pair or 2nd sock is 1.5" from finishing. My other modification was to knit the leg in 2x2 rib, and the last 1.5" on 3mm needles with a stretchy bind off. I hate socks that fall down.
The last image is of my knitting workbook and sock kit - all I need to work a sock, I went thru the pattern after I completed the first sock and noted my changes and Linkworked out the proportons/percentages for heel stitches, gusset increases, etc.. Only to find today that the designer Brooke Chenoweth, had posted a quite detailed and more mathematical formulae for this very thing. I can work the formulae but am in awe of some who can write script to calculate such things automatically. This sock is fast becoming a classic, as other bloggers have taken up the explaination challange and done simillar work. Maybe this is a new Jaywalker, or classic? Jacywalker snuck in there as i plan to knit her next, I sucumbed to sock yarn on line via webs americas yarn store after tuning in to their podcast/radio show. Very tempting site, lots on sale.

You can see my more manual and old fashioned scribbles along side the printed pattern in my workbook.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

knitting and purling - my style left hand carry

Well a new year, a new project or 3, a project completed, and a new technqiue to share. But first the latest item off the knitting pins, a kangaroo pocket jersey for my 7.5 year old son. In teal blue, on 3.24mm's. I made this one up, mostly in advance- but resolve a few details as i worked, like the stripe pattern, and the neck finish to match the ribbing at the hem and on the pockets. Hem is 4 rows garter, 10-12 rows of 2x2 rib, and another 4 rows garter, all on knitting pins one size smaller. I short rowed the back neck, starting when the raglan decreases has achieved 80% of K, and turned 5 stitches short eachtime until only the back stitches remained. Then I knit two rounds to resolve all the short row wraps.

Ages ago i was learnng how to knit with a left hand carry, and to knit with two colours in my left hand and searched the web for help. There are so many good help sites out there but it wasn't until i found a with a video not in english, it was noted as being Finish, (will post link when i find it again) that i found a purl that really made continental work for me. I has been a right hand carry knitter, and before that a pick up the yarn and wind it round the needle, drop it and move the needle knitter, and after that a combined knitter, but I was wanting to do Bohus which required colour work with purl stitches at the same time as carrying multiple yarns in the left hand.

I aplogise for any delay in the images loading, there are 17 that show me ribbing in knit and purl using a left hand. The images were made by my very own non-knitting but very helpful Christopher - and I think he did a wonderful job. At the time I was knitting a shrug for my daughter in sock yarn, in the round on 2.25mm needles. Please ignore the additional needles, focus only on the ones in use. I won't provide much commentary, as the images do show quite clearly the movements in my knitting, I find that i can rib easily and fast using this method. I tension my yarn by winding it around my index finger, which allows me greater control when I carry more than one yarn (each is wound around a different finger), but tensioning around the pinking also works. For me i know i need to carry the yarn towards the tip of my finger and close to the needle tip.

To 'flick' from knit to purl i lift the yarn into place over the left needle tip, and then sweep the tip of my right needle inbehind it when i start the purl stitch. I do find my hands and wrists do much of the work as the needles twist from horizontal to vertical when knitting this way.