Saturday, February 21, 2009

further than I thought .. look it fits!

It fits, we don't have many mirrors in rooms without clutter but this one in the family room works for photographing Owls. Out the window behind me you can see the wet wet wet, 3 days of heavy rain wetness. With outdoor activity not so easy, and not being fond of soggy, I got a lot of knitting done, and soap making. Which means I've re-knit my Owls, and now I'm far further than I thought I'd be. I have been stressing, a little over the appearance of Owls, did I go to far and add too much, Kate's original Owl is simple with only 2x2 rib, I've thrown in some little cables into my 2x2 rib - and now I wonder if its too much. Less is more and all that. Today there is knitting, only on Owls, and lots of photos, knitting in one piece lets me do that, there is soap making, Sweet Orange and Bergamot as well as Chocolate, yes chocolate soap. That one may or may not be successful - I'll explain why.

Well I sped thru the body, and adding in the sleeves, and then the yoke much faster than I had expected. It was like colour work, those Owls are fun to knit, a case of thinking 'just one more round and there will be necks' & 'just two more rounds and they will have eyes'. I did hold off knitting them so close to the arm-body join. I've seen some Owls that disappear into the armpit, and I didn't want that. I tried a little extra shaping there this time. Usually I follow Elizabeth Zimmerman principles for her EPS sweaters and set aside 8% - but, I'm a pattern-maker and I know that when I draft patterns for woven or knit fabrics the under arm sleeve shape is not straight - it has a little curve. So I set aside 8% less six stitches on both the body and sleeves then used a raglan decrease every 2nd round to decrease those extra stitches away. I thought this would provide more of a traditional pattern making curve where the body and the sleeve join. I think it worked - this sweater is a close fit and there is no pucker under the arms! I found this page showing how to draft a sleeve, and if you look at the under arm curve - its just that a curve, not a straight that the 8% gives you, there should be a matched curve on the body section. So after those 6 rounds where I decreased away the rest of the 8%, I worked a few rounds plain then worked the Owls. I ended up with the tips of the Owls heads 4" into the yoke, exactly where Kate's Owls finished, her Owls are 19 rows high and her gauge 20 rows to 4", add in the extra joining round - and we finished with the yoke the same length ready to being shaping.

There was one other worry with the yoke, Kate decreases fast and furious in her Owl pattern, making 2 stitches of every 3, on two rounds, with only a plain knit round in between. That is a reduction of 66% over 3 rounds isn't it? Kate does this after the Owls and before she uses the short rows to raise the neck .... but I've looked at the few back views of finished Owls on Ravelry, and on Kates Blog, and I was worried that that sort of decrease in my finer gauge would not sit flat, it would be puckered. It is slightly puckered in the image above, that is before any blocking. My worries were compounded when a web knit sib sent me images of her Owls in a gauge near the same as mine and she identified puckering below the decreases. I reasoned that if I worked 10 short rows starting at the left front arm-scye working around the back and stopping at the right front arm-syce, and shortening these by one Owl each row ... then working the decreases, and straight into the rib --- I might escape the same fate. I held onto my plans in the face of puckering on the needles ---

I told my self it would block out, and when worn would be stretched flat, and to prove this might be the solution I steam blocked the puckers ... which did improve them. And the yarn softened, not as soft as the blocked swatch mitt, but softer than the un-steamed knit. So right now I've finished the ribbing, with cables, and I'm not sure if its overcomplicated or ok. I guess I won't know until its done, and with Kate's uncluttered design - well its hard to compete with a well know simple example.

But I did do other things this weekend, I made soap, twice. I used the soap calculator here, and made up a recipe for Olive, Sweet Almond Oil, and Coconut. The Olive and Sweet Almond are meant to give it a creamy lather, and leave the skin moisturized, and the coconut provides a lasting bubbly lather. We flavored that one with Sweet Orange and Bergamot Essential Oils, a generous heavy dash of each as the fragrance fades fast when the soap cures. That was yesterday. Today inspired by a big block of milk chocolate soap we bought a year ago in Oamaru, and still all remember, we made

1kg of Chocolate Soap.
This time I calculated for 50% Rice bran oil, with some Olive and Coconut as well. Similar to the first soap, this should have a creamy lasting lather with good moisturizing characteristics. The chocolate came from powdered Dutch Cocoa, with a little brown food colouring to deepen it, and some vanilla pod seeds. We did wonder if we should add some real melted 85% dark cocoa chocolate - but unusually there was none in the house. Bear added a little vanilla essence as well. I'm worried it has become more of a chocolate pudding than chocolate soap - perhaps the vanilla was to much? But it does look good enough to eat ....

Sunday night, cubs to march thru the obligatory showers and baths, soup for tea to make, and then latter antiques road show to watch (I hope it is on - I have not checked today).
I'll finish casting off Owls, and plan the front bands, and cut the chocolate soap and blog again next week.

Na Stella


Anonymous said...

Nope, sorry Antiques Road Show is all finished up for this season. In the time slot now you get Top Gear which is compulsory viewing in my house but may not be your thing. It's followed by Stephen Fry touring America which is quite fun.

Knitting Linguist said...

I think blogger ate my comment! Sigh... Basically, I love the owls -- they look wonderful on you, the fit is perfect. And that soap looks far too yummy -- the temptation to taste it must be strong :)

Heather at My Coupon Coop said...

That sweater is breathtaking! You should be very proud! Now you can wear it and smell sweet too. (With all your new soaps. Not that you didn't smell sweet before.)

Anonymous said...

I love your blog. I found it looking for video's to teach myself knitting. It's funny you make soap too. I've just started to learn about soap making. I checked out several books from the library. I was wondering if you would share your soap recipe. It looks fabulous.