Saturday, April 28, 2007

Dark hot chocolate -almost as good as coffee!

Today, happyness is hot dark chocolate, frustration with the NZ postal service, I'm knitting that corrugated ribbing, and showing you what mine looks like in photos and how I knit that (videos).

I'm so happy, I'm almost dancing around the house happy, this is back in town, dark, dark hot choc. Supplies are intermittent, so we stock up, 3-4 cans at a time and nearly cry when it is unavailable. The kids love it with hot or cold milk. We zap a cup of milk or water in the microwave and then wizz it in our plastic old milk shake machine and get foamy steamy hot choc, with froth so thick you can eat it with a spoon - magic. The kids get this, or water or plain milk, or honey in milk, no soft drinks, no fruit juice, and visiting kids suck this up like nothing I've seen. I take mine hot no froth-flat, dairy free with soy milk, and Bear has his with hot water and frothed. Double and Tripple Magic. And its good for the environment and other people :D. Can it get any better? You have to heat it up to disolve or use a machine to beat it into a liquid and its not like cocoa - it is more like dark chocolate. Liquid dark chocolate - heaven, this stuff is almost as good as coffee.

And this is officially a very dangerous good. Can you believe it? A new friend offered to do a really really nice favour, and which will cost her postage to me, from New York. A thank you was needed. I found these little cutie magnets, with a really cheesy slogan. Pauaful magnets, empaua your fridge. At this point I might need to explain that the shell used to decorate them was popular in new zealand in tourist, and kitch things but recently has become very much in fashion for art and contemporary jewellery and is called Paua. There is the cutest kiwi, a koru, gekco, bone fishing hook, and clematis, I thought it was a good 'from nz gift'.

New Zealand Post has a complete ban on dangerous substances like explosives, firecrackers, money and strong magnets. And oven cleaner!, it is listed on the banned substances list, tell me who, who, who in the world would post oven cleaner to any one? So Bear, as he works over a post office went off to post late last week. New Zealand Post are emphatic, these can not be posted. No way, Nadda, nitch, nein, not on your nelly. Still if magnets wipped my bank card magnetic strip in the mail - well I'd be more than a little miffed. Never mind - I've found something not knitterly but useful to a knitter that is confirmed new zealand post approved. And its winging away.

So I'm knitting on my Fana inspired Cardie, and well into the corrugated rib, shown here, front and back. No news of more yarn, but a girls gotta knit, and this is what I got to knit. It has only been 2-3 nights knitting so far - I could do that again if I had to. I think the variations in the spacing of the floats on the back are small inconsitencies in holding the red or purl yarn above or below the blue. I freely admit to not being at all perfect, but do want to improve where I can. Since noticing that I've tried to be more consitent. I love the way the floats across the back flatten the rib, and push the purls forward, it makes a nice texture that is not immediately recognisable as ribb.

First how to knit easy-peasy corrugated rib, or at least how I worked out to do this. Never being taught or seen this in in the 'yarn', only pictures and descriptions, this is what worked best for me when I tried. What I love about way this is that I just look and scoop the colour I need, no translating, colour to hand required. No "Red, that means the left hand, so move left hand, blue next, so thats in the right, switch hands and move the right hand". Me I'm left right confused, never can tell instantly which is which, always have to think about that. But it works for many, and I did knit a colourwork sweater once that way.

Begining with how I wrap the yarn around my left hand. The purl yarn has to go over the first finger and then the knit yarn over the 2nd finger. Never works the other way around.

and then a closer look at the knitting in progress. It is at this stage i was thinking that using fingering yarn might not have been the best stuff to demonstrate on - but thats what I'm knitting at the moment. And thanks for the nice comments, Suzzane and Wendy, and KathyR. It makes it feel not like writting to a large dark web void.

post script - latter that night
Having a little look around the web last night I found several on line videos where knitters knit close to how I knit. This one is the closest to how I purl, and Potansiyelariza's video. i know now I am not alone in my knitting like this, Wendy - the knit'n guru (could it be ???) left a comment that she knits just like me (not purl though), this video seems to make purl use as many fingers as they can - which is something I found difficult to do, although the first time I knit my cabled zippie cardie (- before I blogged), I knit it that way. At times I've got two left feet and maybe it follows two left hands?

Friday, April 27, 2007

whats next?

This post, is a sort of quick tidy up, the latest knit video, staring again my own two hands and a reasonable approximation knitting in continental style, a minor frog report, together with a news of the next sock. Thinkings on the fish afghan and how it fits into my knitting life. I'm missing images today, and you know how I like my photos, but its late and photos taken at night never show the colours well. The upside is these pages will load fast. Knitwise, next weekend is the lace weekend, and I'm all set, already. Today and tomorrow is a work thing, writting for academic publication workshop - so I will need the knitting next week.

Firstly the video
Again thanks to Bear and my postitively ancient minolta digital camera. This isn't new, it was around a few days ago - but one at a time seems right. someone asked how long it took to knit this smooth. Around 3 sweaters on 3mm needles or smaller. Thanks Silvie, Suzane for the postive feedback, muchly appreciated, I'm not saying this way is better, just it works really well for me and the things I like to knit.
So do I knit like you knit? Let me know, I seem surrounded by Lever, English, Scottish and Throwing knitters here with the exception of the lovely Tania, collector of looms.

I've cast on for my Fana inspired cardie, in petrol and dk red silk merino on 2.5mm needles. She is knit in the round, with two rows K1P1 rib then 5 cms corrugated ribbing. After the first two rows I discovered the horror of horrors, a twisted round. And how many hundred times have I read that very specific and clear warning "make sure the knitting is not twisted before joining". Well the yarn is fingering, the rows were few, the centre steeked, so I just twisted it right way round and that twist dosn't even show. My plan was with the steeked front any twist could/would be cut out latter.

I've done nearly 3 cm so far. Two things have slowed me down. First is I would like Bear to make one more video of my technique for corrugated ribbing - but for that we need daylight - so not tonight. I have not seen this stitch being worked, and sort of worked it out from photos, on line reports and other mythical sources, I played with this in my swatch for Poppys pink merino here, and got some informative replies to KR post which lead to Nanettes blog which is great. It appears that we both came to the same fix to prevent the cast on edge curling - a row or two of rib in one colour. So far I've only worked out how to do this in the round - does it, can it exist in flat knitting? This is a sort of 'I'll show you mine if you show me yours" video - I'd love to know if I got it right.

Second is that I called into my LYS to collect more yarn for the Fana project, and see if they had tracked down more balls of the dark red for me. When I put it on lay by, I was thinking of only the blue, not fair isle. There is no more matching in their sister branches, so they need to order from the rep next tuesday, and might have to get the full 16 in another batch. Seems silly to knit much more knowing the yarn might be replaced by another batch. I promise progress images Sunday.

I went to knit group last night and meet another Dunedin Knit blogger, Bessie-S, who was lovely but has not time to update her blog in ages. Being in the middle of a library masters and working. She did mention closing the blog, but I think she should just note it is infrequent. She was knitting an amazing hot water bottle cover in vintage yarn - cool. At the meeting I started some socks for Toby in the same Stripe Regia that Bears last socks were in. Initially I cast on on 2.5 mm, but soon decided that I really do like a firmer sock, so frogged the 4 cm and started again on 2mm dpns - thats the frog report. I'm using my current fav sock modified widdershins pattern, but with a ribbed instep leg. Brooke has posted more info on the workings for these socks on her blog.

I've been pondering the fish blanket, and have recieved many many nice coments - Thanks very much to all for those :D
I have a lot of knitting books, at times I wonder if knitting books is part of the knitting hobby or another entirely different hobby that feeds this knitting one. One book I return to often is mindful knitting: inviting contemplative practice to the craft by Tara Jon Manning. This is a peaceful little book, and full of nice calm, easy things to knit for others (it took me a while to work that one out) Other than that a lot of the book is about being at peace, feeling without responding, being still and connecting. Tara writes of the meadative aspect of knitting. I like that, the process of making each stitch, thats my time, my me time. I have linked this to another suggestion by Benda Dayne from Cast-on in one of her previous podcasts. Brenda suggested maybe knitters are able to see the value in small incremental steps to achieve good or progress in community work and action for change because thats how knitting works. No one ever thinks of the 1000's of stitches to create a sweater, we see only the needles, the quite space, and the possibility of the finished project.There is a peace and a lack of urgency, and a sense that things grow one stitch, or one fish, or one row of fish at a time.

I think the fish blanket is my incremental project, the one that lurks in the back of the knit basket, not haunting me, but rather confirming to me that life is fine, and yes, I have time, I can do this, there is no hurry. It makes me feel good to know that I am in a position to take on a project that has no end date, no child will grow out of it before it is finished, no baby will be born to soon, no season will pass with the project not done in time. In our family we have a themed conversation, where in the middle of a moan we stop and say - if the bus being late is the worst of my week - life is pretty good. If the front page of the local paper is full of a resident having a moan about rubbish collection, or a tree falling over and needing cleaning up then the world is pretty much ok today.

On a work note : I got some really really good news yesterday - so I'm off to Australia soon. A few months ago, knit-blogging was put on the back burner for a few days while a paper was finished and submitted to here. So this year I'll be spending my birthday in Australia, away from home family, in the company of strange academics and possibly giving a paper. There better be good yarn to buy some-where close. My current thoughts are what will I take to knit? Those thoughts should be 'what will I put in the power point to impress all those designery professionals?'

Well work promised travel, conference and accommodation funds as long as my paper was accepted, and yesterday came news that it was. Yay, fantastic, and of course with the always present standard 'subject to reviewers comments being addressed'. So what do the reviewers want? Well reviewer 1 wants a few spaces, full stops, and a minor typo fixed. Easy peasy - I can do that, in fact I'm embarassed that I sent the paper away with such errors. Reviewer 2 - now they are a whole different story. That person wants me to 'rewrite the conclusion stronger'. Huh? I've got a few weeks, but if I knew how to do that I would have done that already!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Public holiday so new knitterly things ... a purl video

In new zealand the 25th of April is Anzac day, the day we as a country hold memorial services to remember those who served in wars. For a small country far from the rest of the world, and who has never been invaded we sure lost a lot of servicemen and women (In this post I'm ignoring the European 'invitation turned invasion' of the Maori lands that lead to land wars as there is way to much current and historical politics to go there in a single knitting post). ANZAC, I think, stands for Australian and New Zealanc Armed Corps, I could be wrong on the C bit.

It is also my dads birthday, who has the dubious honor of never having worked on his birthday in his entire life. Even when in Europe and the UK he tells us he told his bosses "I've never worked on my birthday and I'm not about to start now". Cheeky Kiwi. Happyy birthday Dad, he is circa 1933.

So a national public holiday, and what does an obsessed knitter do on such days, when it is drizzly and kind of cold and pretty much an at home day?
They do things knitterly.

Following a comment from DogMotive in the Netherlands on my youtube video showing my quick and easy way to rib, I have posted a second video of just purling. I just love the internet makes the whole world smaller. Please be very forgiving about the occassional short lapses in focus. I have an oldish digital camera, that does great knitting close ups or macro, and while it does make movies this seems as good as it gets. Again many thanks to Bear, who is very very very patient when I suggest 'just one more take'.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Repeat 72 times

Take plain fish, align it with one of a more colourful nature and stitch carefully together thus. Weave in any ends and repeat . . . . . . . oh . . . . . . . . . around 72 times.

One small - blankie, soft, so soft, but mighty mighlty small for all that effort. Fish are twice as long as wide, so to get this square blankie it took 12 fish by 6 fish. Images of the plan, the wrong side, the right side and the finished blanket.

Dawns a realisation that I like many before me, did not really comprehend the scope of the undertaking. to function as a blanket - of any useful size at least 288 fish are required in sock yarn.

Put aside as an ongoing project, to mop up left over sock yarn, some things can't be hurried.

Next post, finished baby surprise jacket, and the start of a new colour work cardigan for me, me, me.

Friday, April 20, 2007

BSJ - c.1968 and still surprises!

Today, new toys, BSJ nearly there, a visual guide to folding her up, and that was indeed a surprise, Frog report, fish afghan storage and lack of progress, and all go for the merino silk Fana cardigan.

Baby surprise jacket- BSJ - is still on the needles, and I'm in knitting heaven. A set of Knitpics Options arrived just after the last post - and they are sublime. Smooth, sharp, slippery, light, no kinks, I can't imagine any way they could be better. So how did a knitter so far from the US score a set?

Well I pulled favours from Bear, who works in engineering roading design, for a firm who 'does' contract design and planning for housing subdivisions in California. Usually that would mean a trip to Norco once a year, but none are on the horizon, so he asked a collegue 'over there' to act as a shipping agent.

Only thing was we forgot to specify shipping method, and they decided to ship air mail, amazing - 2 days there to here. Costwise - eeekkk. Lets just not talk about the pros/cons and knitting tool air mile controversy. I'm brown bagging lunches for a wee while yet till finances recover. You can now buy Knit pics from Australia, but only the delux kit, and strangely that works out about the same $.

I switched BSJ over to the knitpics and seemed to wizz along - those tips really let you dig into a K3 tog, and avoid doing a 's1k2tog pass slip stitch over'. I always seem to stretch out the slipped stitch, so the k3 tog gives a better finish.
In fact I wizzed so fast, and was intially so confused about the shaping that I missed an increase 10 row and had to frog back around a third of the jacket. Not big deal, it made me understand the importance of the shaping more.

She is nearly finished, I think yarn projects are like ships, nearly always she's. And this is how she folds and flips to make a cute as a button garter stitched sripped baby jacket. That Elizabeth Zimmerman was one clever lady.

I've got two more ridges then a row of button holes, and three more ridges and cast off and done. I want to make another, and another, and another - bring on some babies.

Fish - well they are in safe hibernation, here in my left over yarn drawer. After BSJ is complete I will complete the remaining 13 fish and start stitching. Not entirely sure if an edge is needed, depends on the finished size. I now plan to edge it with more fish only if it is to small to do anything useful with, current thinking is a baby car seat blanket.

And I swatched a practice for a Fana cardigan in the Dawn merino silk, execpt for real she will be navy and red, not grey. I know corrugated rib is not traditional, but I am liking that bit voth the doing and the result. There are some stars still to do, and the swatch needs washing to check the relaxed guage, but over all pretty good, a nice weight, and feel to the yarn. On 2.5mm in the round it goes pretty fast, and has a nice feel. Fana cardigans are knit in the round steeked and the edges finished with a band of woven fabric, I'll have to do a hunt but am wondering about using a fine merino machine knit, like tee shirting or slightly heavier to give this one a more modern feel? Comments? All dependent on finding the perfect colour match - or am I game to try dying wool fabric? I wonder ...

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Warm, warmer, warmest mittens and Surprise me baby

Today, fish report, no frog report, but a baby surprise, some naturally coloured yarn introduces itself, and how I made a custom sized pattern for mohair lined mittens.

Four fish on a blanket, I admit my fish production has slowed somewhat. Probably my interest and fascination for them has waned a tad, as would be expected to occur naturally. However at only 87 fish, when at least 13 more are required, all plain - I do need to commit to this. I think I will set a quota of 5 fish a week min. No fun knitting allowed if fish are not knitted. These most recent fish are sitting on a brown garter ribbed swatch. Many many years ago while completing my doctoral thesis, in a clothing and textile department of a university, I had P.grad colleagues, one was Tara. Tara's masters was to develop a workable system for sorting wool from coloured sheep. The wool mostly came from a local farm that specialised in wool and yarn from coloured flocks. I knew this, I also remember being amazed at the huge variety of naturally occurring wool colours she collected, white, silver grey, dark grey, brown, reddish brown, cream, yellow white, ... an amazing variety. At that time my knitting was not as 'developed' as it is now - subtext "I followed patterns", so while interested the info did not stick.

Skip to 2007, when I meet local knitters who ask if I get yarn from Clifton Wool n things? The very same farm producers who specialise in naturally coloured sheep! This source had completely skipped my mind. However a visit last weekend resulted in four skeins of dk 2 ply sport weight rich brown yarn. The price, el-cheapo, $NZ8.50 a skein (that's $US6.20 for a skein of 400 yards!). The yarn is slightly sticky and stiff to knit with, but softens and fluffs up wonderfully in the first wash/block. This swatch made its www debut in the last post "the ribbing video", but in the real world the yarn is for Kate Kuckro's Interweaves Charcoal ribbed cardigan for Bear. A project sorted and now sitting in stash. I can now return to planning my own Fana cardigan in silk merino.

Surprise me baby! Well I have made a start on the Elizabeth Zimmermans classic Baby surprise jacket. See side bar for links. A little disappointment, in that what I thought was pure wool is not. The Green/Blue has in fact got 10% acrylic, which is ok I suppose, maybe, well not really but its only 10%. Why do I have an major aversion to acrylic? Well it usually wears out fast, Pills and does not keep its good looks through many washes , but with only 10% those features should be subservient to the dominant proportion of wool. So far it is fast and fun. I am having to track rows and decreases on paper, but expect if knitted a second time - it would be cruisy, I'd know where it was going. I have also lately discovered the shared EZ fan blog - which is worth visiting, if just to see how many knitters she has liberated from the tyranny of the pattern.

Here are what might possible be the warmest hand knit mittens in Dunedin. Knitted 'with love' for my Toby, aged 7.5, using the yarn he dyed last week. I knitted these from the cuff down, and made it up as I went using a tracing of his hand for a guide. I did read some mitten suggestions by my Knit Guru EZ who suggested a looser gauge was more comfortable. But when finished they seemed thin, open, and not substantial enough to keep small hands warm. I decided to line them, and know most recommendations are for angora, but could only find a fine gauge natural fluffy yarn in kid mohair, Black.

To line them I picked up stitches from above the rib using needles one size finner, and just knitted the same mitten. I kitchenered the fingertips and thumb tips together - and made sure to catch the stitches of the stripe knitting to secure the two layers together. I had not planned to line them, so should probably have added more ease, but they fit and work and are squishy warm and soft.

But I am proud of the mitten pattern, my own workings with gusset thumb.
Here is How I worked out the pattern, aka EZ or others 'down and dirty instructions'. I drew around Toby's hand and used this outline to calculate my size. In this case the gauge was 8spi, and the palm outline measured 2 3/4, I doubled this to get 5 1/2 inches around the hand. This gave a K =48 stitches. I made the ribbing on needles one size smaller, and around 25% less so cast on 36 stitches (I rounded out to two for the rib). I ribbed for 3", following ez's instruction to make the ribbing long enough to prevent draughts. I decided hands are not really 'thick' so did not allow anything for depth, assuming the stretch of the knit fabric would accommodate the depth of the hand. It worked out fine.

The thumb measured 3/4 across, so 1 1/2 around, meaning I needed 12 stitches. I used the standard raglan increase, increasing one on each side of the thumb line every 2nd row, until I had the extra 12 stitches and it worked out to be the right length - nearly. I added 6 straight rows to make sure the rib wouldn't pull up onto the hand. I put the central10 thumb stitches on a holder and cast on an extra 8 stitches to bride the gap, and worked the mitten straight until 1 1/2 inches from the finger tips, then used a sock decrease, every 2nd row, decreasing 1 stitch in from the start of the first dpn, the end of the 2nd, the start of the 3rd, and the end of the 4th dpn. When I had 8 stitches remaining - I wove them together. I picked up the thumb stitches from the waste yarn, and an additional 7 from around the thumb hole. I decreased over the next few rows until I had 15 stitches and knit straight to nearly the length of the thumb, before 2 decrease rounds of k1 dec1, and weaving the remaining stitches together. I realise the mitten decrease for the ribbing, increase for the thumb gusset and the thumb itself are ll 25% of K - K being the gauge x palm width doubled. The magic number for children's mittens appears to be 25%. Will test for an adult sometime.

I then used a smaller needle, picked up 36 stitches around the top of ribbing, and knit another mitten inside the first as described above. Here is my workbook with workings, calculations, hand tracing and finished mittens. One page wonder! Toby of course likes to wear these inside out, with the soft side showing so he can snuggle them into his face. I'm going to have to knit and line some simillar mittens for me.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Video - I'm rib-K2P1'ing

So this is just a trial, as I've probably got the settings all wrong (leave a comment and let me know please), but here is me ribbing. Many many thanks to Bear, my resident photo buddy who adapted his skills to shoot his first video. Opps seems the video is missing - but I'll work on that and sort it, in the mean while try this link
Before I adopted the finish purl I found ribbing a right pain in the ****, but now it just flows see ...

enjoy, I did slow down my progress a little for clarity, usually I would rib a little faster. this is not the norwegian purl (scroll down), in that the yarn stays on the far side of the needles and the needle twists right back over - I have tried that, but ... felt it pulled my stitches wide open and deformed them. Not saying it did, just I didn't like what I thought it did to my purl rows.

In the next post I'll explain what this swatch is going to be, and show off my Toby's new mittens, I made up the pattern and lined them in fine Mohair. He is 7 - so how long with they last? His Kangaroo jersey is MIA and has been for over a month, he wore it for nearly a month but how can I not knit for him - they all get one pair socks, one sweater and one pair mittens a year - how long they last is up to them.
Of course it is no where as good as this little number

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

My real hobbies are frogging, and stashing

Today, stash enhancement, swatching, and a whole lot of frogging going on. The fish count now lives in the side bar. For years I've been an on line knitter, learning both from books and the on-line knit community at places like knitters review, knitty, and wendy to mention only a few of the many many. I just could not find knitters who thought outside the pattern, who wanted more than heavy yarn that knitted up quick. But in the last month I have attended 3 different knit groups - who knew dunedin had social knitters in such numbers? not me! And now I'm off to a lace weekend workshop, 4-6 May, I can hardly wait, 2 whole days of knitting lace, and learning to read lace charts. I can't even begin to imagine what sort of bad habits this self taught knitter will have to unlearn. The knit groups are all so different, in one group we all knit in the round and the others have Knitpics options sets (I think I want some), The 2nd group all knitted flat, and had 3 learners doing the obligatory garter stitch scarfs, and the other group had more of a lesson on the finer points of finishing fair isle gloves and was mostly spinners (next few meetings traditional gansy techniques and Andean folk knitting).

I've been knitting up Toby's yarn into mittens, one is finished minus the thumb, the other half done. I'd like to line these to make them soft and warm, so back off to the yarn shop tomorrow. I've been a regular visitor recently. No photos of those- next time.

Baby surprise, I've found some yarn for the Baby surprise jacket, I took the Sublime a cashmere, merino, silk back to the yarn shop. What was I thinking? That winter white luxury fibre would have made the most adorable baby surprise jacket, which would have felt so so soft, and looked amazing until 3 minutes after it was put on a baby, any baby - then it would have milk, pumpkin or some other yellowish spill down the front. One month latter after numerous trips through the washing machine it would have been a felted yellow tinged white thing fit only to be worn at home on those days when nothing else was clean. So this is real baby proof yarn, superwash, machine washable, and of a colour to hide everyday wear. This yarn comes from sheep, real sheep, I know his as both yarn bands have sheep on them. Colour 4 me Tweed by Sheperd had their 6 year old draw the sheep. And where they live the sheep come in colours of white, green, yellow, blue, red and orange, no dye contaminates their farm. Checkheaton had a photographer do a family portrait of a ewe and her lamb, for their yarn band.

I've been unfaithful on the side, swatching the Dawn merino silk fingering yarn at the same time as dating another swatch. This time I am doing a real circular swatch. So far its not to exciting, just some moss stitch and stocking stich on 2mm, but I've found two possible inspirations for that here and here, with a sort of knit along here. But then I went back to buy the 17 balls I need and found a dark denim colour. And with a deep red - perfect. The silver grey was beautiful but I have a worry that when knitted it was soo going to be an old lady 'elegant out to dinner' cardie, I was even thinking about beads - and I'm sooo not ready for that - yet. So I picked up the dark blue and red and now I'm thinking a modern take on a Fana Cardigan. The drawing in PGR Knitting in the old way seems to have a much lower neck, which is what I'm going for in this one. Next step is to swatch in some colour work and see what works in this guage, and try a little checkerboard band or corrugated ribbing. and maybe back for a few more balls of red.

Here is the real color palete

And whats the story on my practice v-neck steek, my 'other' swatch? Well I can't get any more of the Rowan Soft in that colour batch so - frog, frogging, frogged. Here is the proof. Its a lovely yarn, but not meant to be. I will steek a v-neckline some time soon, just not now.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Let the holidays begin (Raro safer on the yarn than drinking the stuff.

Today, my Fish count is up to 85 (accurate stock take undertaken by my in house engineer), the swatch (and frog) report, and the whole family dyes (Toby demonstrates just those six little wooden posts were really for), plus Bear has a birthday.

I've updated my blog, moved to the new version of Blogger, new template, and had to rebuid the side bar. Which gave me a space to think about what my blog should be or could be, so let me know if you like the new lists, links, tutorials, and new new section - new zealand knitters who blog. I've left comments on all the owners blogs asking permission (all except Kiwiknitter on the 'men who knit' blog, which seems to be a closed ring - and I feel really funny joining that one - not being male and all, but you have to join to see, or thats how it seems).

Swatch and frog report : Swatching, still continues even though I have not heard back from LYS reguarding the availability of enough yarn to complete a sweater for moi. I began a practice for the v-neck steek. This is the 3rd version, practices one and two were frogged. I have found on line info on steeking here and here, but not much detail about exactly how to actually do the v-neck. I think I need to cast on a 6-8 stitch steek, and have placed 3 stitches on a holder to become the anchor of the neck ribbing. My most recent trial, has me casting on the 3 stitches to replace the 3 on the hgolder, and then increasing to 8 stitches, I wonder if that should have been cast on to 8 stitches immediately.

I have also run a purl row of stitches either side of the k2 and ssk decreases. I'm looking at a using shallow wide v, so have decreased every 2nd row, and on the 'real one' would compete to the shoulder by decreasing avery 4 or 5th row after it was nearly wide enough.

School holidays for primary school children started with Easter. Two weeks off, and the kids need that, they are ready for a rest, do nothing, stay at home, some
'not have to cope with 14 plus other kids in the class room and 160 kids in the school' days.

I've got the first week at home with them, and I've got plans for these guys, the TMNT movie, that would be Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to any one who has not had a boy in the family for around - oh around years. I have memories of my now 30+ brother loveing those turtles. And here at home to counter the animated story with semi violence (no one dies but lots of bodies slamming against walls), a little fibre craft.

Here we have Toby, aged 7.75yo skeining up his wool yarn, over my new custom and home made warping posts, in preparation for Food colour dying. For each kid we used two 50 gram balls of 100 % wool yarn, JohnQ designer Creative 4 ply (because it was white and the cheapest yarn we could find in pure wool).
Over night we soaked the yarn in warm water, with 175 mls of vinegar. The it was squeezed dryish, We laid the two skeins out on top of each other and on a circle of glad wrap on top of 2 old towels, and Toby painted it with Black, blue, green and red food dye in squeezy bottles. Each dye solution was made up 2 Tbsps liquid food colour to 100 mls. IN hindsight this was to much dye the bath did not exhaust, next time only 1 Tbsp per 100 mls. We used the painting technque here, the cold pour method, but then wrapped the yarn up in its plastic wrap, and zapped it in the microwave for 3 lots of 3 minutes on med-high. I pulled open some vent holes. Being impatient types we didn't wait for it to cool, but ran hot tap water over it to cool and rinse the yarn. Toby thought the colours were a little bright for him, so we overdyed one skein with black. We put water in the casserole, and then added about a 'tspn' of black food dye, added the still wet skein, and microwaved for another 5 mins on med-high. The reds went brown, the blues and greens darker and its a all in all darker more adult version.

This is the wet result, of the first skein. The outdoor drying shot shows the colours pretty true, and the difference in the overdyed and original skeins.

And hanging with them, Poppy's Pink which came from sour grape Raro. Raro is the name given to our New Zealand version of Kool-Aid. I made a huge assumption that Raro and Kool-aid are pretty much the same thing. It seems they are. I also selected 'super sour' flavours knowing the acid would aid the dye uptake. This was for Poppy, who at 4.75yo probably would not have handled the paint'n'squirt method as 'tidily' as I would have wanted.

We soaked the yarn, this time for 20 mins in warm water with about quarter of a cup of vinegar (I'm running out, and we were impatient), then sprinkled over two packed of Raro Sourz Grape flavour, stired gently and zapped for 5 mins. Sprinkling rather than mixing the powder in before the yarn was added resulted in a faint variation, but its very pretty. The liquid changed from deep artificial grape to clear and yet slighlty white cloudy. All the skeins were rinsed, wrung out gently, then wrapped in a cleanish towel and stamped on to semi dry, then hung outside on a the line.

We also have a new toy, well Bear does, he had a birthday yesterday, which is pretty cool. He had an angioplasty in 2000, Toby was just one, and so 7 years of no heart problems is very very good news. I clearly remember Toby who had promised to be very still and calm, actively bouncing on the hospital bed in his exitement to hug his dad, as we and the nurses rushed to grab him, all worried he would knock a tube or that valve they put into the artery in the thigh .

The new toy is a wireless weather guage, which gives outdoors temperature, humidiy, and other details such as cloud cover, rain, snow, freezing or such. So instead of walking a whole 7 meters from dining room to outside (or looking out the window) he gets a full meterlogical picture at a glance. That 61 is % humidity, it alternates display with Celcius and humidity. This was perfect present for Bear, he stops every trip down our front hall to tap the barometer, inherited from his mum and dad, and loves to announce 'its falling' or 'its rising'. He has spent much of today finding the perfect pozzie for the outside transmitter, and working out which channel it needs to be set on. I'm so pleased with it and his response, and it was even priced well under 3 digits!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Easter, and I'm wearing that cardie

First photos of the cabled cardie on a real body, and latter a swatch report, not enough frogging for a frog report (just a few rows in the swatch now and then), and just for Easter a recipe!

Here I am, squinting into autumn sun and wearing the PBCZC aka powder blue cabled zippie cardie. I'm in front of the Fejoea tree in the back corner of our 'yard'. I am very very happy and have worn it almost every day since I finished it for the second time. If daring, compare me to the dressmaker dummy wearing the same cardie (post march 29th) to get some idea of the reality effect.
And yes we do get fruit from the tree, not a lot but having been raised early on in Auckland - I do miss a supply of Fejoea. Ddespite advice that Dunedin would be to cold to fruit, the tree survives, fruits and is healthy.

And these are the result of yesterdays nod to easter traditions. My variation on the hot cross bun, before & after the oven. Just like my knitting this recipe is modified and made up as I go. Into the bread machine goes 1 tspn of sugar, 1 cup of warm milk, and 3 tspns of yeast. On top with no delay goes 2.5 cups of bread flour, 2 soup spoons of really dark dark sticky brown sugar - the kind you have to pry from the bag, 2 big tspns each of mixed spice and cinnamon, one egg and a large lump of butter, a bit more than a soup spoon. After 10 minutes toss in half a cup of Craisins which have soaked in black hot tea for 10 minutes (a small new to me trick to stop the surfaced ones from burning when they are cooking). I drain the tea off the craisins first, and add extra flour then if the mix is goooey. I know a soup spoon is not a standard baking measure - but it came to hand before the table spoon.

After the machine has run its 'dough' cycle, cut the dough into halves, half again, half again, and half again, and make little round buns. I now know the trick is to stretch the tops down under the bottoms to make pert stand-upy little buns. Wish that trick worked for me. Left to rise, in a roasting dish, lined with baking paper, 1-1.5 hours in warm room then bake - - oh around 15 mins at 220*C - but until darkish golden brown. The glaze was 2 soup spoons of soya milk (I had run out of ordinary) and 2 soup spoons of white suggar, boiled for a few minutes and brushed on right after they exited the oven. these were so good, both with red plum jam and with butter, I plan to make more today, and the next day, and the next day ....

The Swatch, I want to make a fingering vee necked jersey, so I've been swatching, and sketching. So far I've got cables, and variations of mock cables. My swatch is in the round, properly in the round, I usually use a whole ball of yarn in a swatch, as these are designer swatches not gauge swatches. I use them to test stitch patterns. Usually I knit in the round flat, that is I knit each row, but loop the yarn across the back, this time I knit fully in the round so I could reuse the yarn if i need to. I usually get really frustrated at the loops across the back and end up cutting and knotting them away. This particular yarn is Rowan 4 ply soft, merino, so will pill at first, but should settle down. I wonder if that trick of washing merino with jeans to 'knock off the pilling' works with hand knits as well as machine knits? So far I know it will have small cables from hem to under bust or waist, and a steeked v, but raglan or strap? and there are some options to decorate the v, cables and slipped stitches, choices to explore and decisions to make

Today I went 'shopping' is to see if there is more to make a sweater for me, I calculate I need 1900 meters, and this has 179 per ball. I tried to use this site to work out how much yarn, but the recommendation was in oz's, so I also used the guide in Knitting in the old way as well, wraps per inch x 10 for a plain vanilla adult sweater, 19 wraps so 1900 m. More for cables, so buy 12 balls of yarn if I can, I have one in the swatch, so 13 in total, should be plenty.

I tried so hard to buy some nice yarn, I got 4 balls of John Q cheapie white baby wool to dye with the kids latter in the week - ok thats not nice yarn, but its pure wool and Toby and Poppy can dye it and I knit it into more mittens. I also picked up a ball of Dawn 50:50 wool and silk to try, in a fine fingering (recomended for 2-2.25 mm - thats more like it!) and Sublime a cashmere, merino, silk dk weight for 4mm needles. The grey dawn is for me, I'll swatch and plan a light soft cardigan, with grosgrain button facings. The sublime - might have to go back - or maybe a soft baby hat. Its heavier that I would wish for. I also have the shop tracking down 12 balls of the Rowan sage baby soft with the same batch number, enough for a v-necked sweater for me. I'll know latter that week, they have 7 in shop so only have to find 5,

Today I did a little woodworking, and made these, what for and why .... all will be revealed in the next post.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

we got 2 (count 'em-1, 2) mittens, & the Frog report

My food colour dye make them up as I go mittens are now finished, to the left very happy Poppy, full detailed report latter in blog, but first the Fish Update, followed by the Frog report.

Fish count is now 83,
but ... I'm really not sure about the accuracy , another stock take is required. Its about now that I confess that even though my job requires good math understanding, all my jobs ever have required good math - I have a serious numbers issue. I 'loose' count. I can count the fish, and 5 minutes latter wonder if the total was 78 or 81, or 83? I can't remember if I added in that 4 over there or not. Personally I think they move around when I'm not looking, just to confuse me, I have noted some one else's fish do the very same thing. Some times I can count the number of stitches on a needle 4 times in 4 minutes and still not know how many stitches I have. Strangely I have not learned to write it down, not yet. But at only just 40, I have plenty of time to develop new and essential skills, right? Anyway I now think of the fish as 'better than a frog pond', after reading Valeries comment on tani's blog.

Last night I did a little set out of the fish on the sofa, the 4 which are stitched plus estimated coverage for a fish blanket 10 fish by 10. Well looks like it would cover a baby seat, the kind that go in cars, maybe even a newborn tucked in a buggy. Sardines is right - what was I thinking?
I'm nearly out of my 'left over sock yarn supply'. And half the fish are from specially purchased yarn. I 'needed' to do that, it was essential to link together the variegated and varied sock yarns. My current Plan is to knit 100 fish, then a boarder of alternating black and white fish, making it 12 fish by 12 fish, so 144 fish in total.
Can I do this before August? I don't know?
Why august? This is a possible baby gift, and babies come when they come, earlier sometimes! They most absolutely don't wait for me to finish knitting. There are two babies on the horizon of my life, both due to arrive mid year. My other option for these babes is the traditional EZ baby surprise jacket, and that is looking good - but its all garter stitch and I do so feel the need for a challenge.

Mittens, now I have 2, or rather Poppy has 2. These have been washed and blocked and held their colour, Boring technical details now...Please look away if this is of no interest,
Knit on 2.5mm dpns,
Gauge turned out to be 9 stitches per inch (36 stitches per 4"/10 cm),
finished length is 7.5 inches, (or 19 cm). Finished width is 14 cm, cuff is 3 cm of 2x2 rib on 2mm, then 1 cm plain on the 2.5mm needles, and cast off with I-cord.

New section : The Frog Report, as I do frog each and every week. and generally in the proportion of Knit Knit Frog.
The first cast off on the mittens was much to narrow, so I finished the second mitten differently. Putting an extra row in the i-cord every 5th row, which made for a nice amount of flair, but not when worn. this necessitated the first mitten being Frogged back to the ribbing and re-knit.

Critical evaluation of resulting mittens, I do like this method of casting on and shaping the tip. I don't really like the invisable thumb, and feel mittens need a increased gusset below the thumb. I do like the thumb being grafted closed, much neater than drawing up the stitches with yarn. I want to play more with dying baby yarn so I can make more fine yarn fair isle mittens.

Today, we have students presenting, but I am hoping to get to town to seek yarn before the shops close. I have a hankering to knit me a sweater in fair isle, fine fair isle, not heavy, not bulky, fine and light. I know I can get a merino that knits up at 9 stitches to the inch, in 'soft' colours. But merino pills, it fluffs, I want fine, and I want soft, but I also want something that stays looking good. I can get Rowan soft, and a cashmere merino mix - but the cost. Any way off to look, but not holding my breath. I plan to get swatching yarn, and maybe some of the rowan for a hat, that way I can test if it pills. I do have a bohus in my stash, or rather my stash is the bohus kit (rose collar to be knit as a cardigan), and last night at knit group we discussed knitting the bohus flat or in the round and steeking the front. Whatever I do i will lower the neckline, not so high, which will work better over tee shirts. So maybe I just commit to the bohus and knit ... I can always frog - can't I? I might use my left over yarn from blue shimmer to practice a steek ......

Sunday, April 01, 2007

I dyed and went to heaven,

Fish count is still the same, but more fish next week.... and there are a growing number of fish knit bloggers. The BK incident seemed to strike a chord with other parents, and I have had so many nice comments on the reworked blue cabled cardie. I also had a heads up that part of my blog set up made for a loooong slooow wait for images to load, so have changed some settings and hope to go back to some of the earlier posts in the next few month to make them 'faster'. Bear with me while i learn how to do this better please.

Sometimes it takes a while to get around to the things that interest a body. Dying for example, around two years ago I noticed a topic section on Knitters review forum on using Kool-Aid to dye yarn, I was intrigued and had a quick browse or 'lurk' but didn't take any action. After that I learned about sock knitting, discovered EZ, knitting in the round, wooden knitting needles, fine knitting technique books, using my credit card to buy knitting supplies like sock yarn and Addi turbos on line. I worked my way from knitting English to combination to various forms of continental. I was busy, and lots was learned.

Some time in the last month two things happened, I started to get yarn envy, the green eyed feeling when I saw the fabulous yarn seemingly available to my international knit companions. Every trip to my LYS seemed seemed to end in disappointment, the fine yarns I coveted to knit on the small needles I prefer came in a very limited range of 'baby colours'. My sons Montessori teacher approached me about her students finding resources to weave, knit, or stitch. The school holidays loom, and I have taken a week off to be an at home parent, we will watch tv, bake, play at the park, visit grandad, but I wanted to find a project. I remembered Kool-aid dyes.

So a little on line research, and I found knitty articles by Julie Theaker and Kristi Porter. I loved the idea of painting the yarn, and found out that as well as boiling, crock pot cooking, steaming and baking, you can microwave yarn. I used a 50 g ball of Pattons baby yarn, skeined up, tied with cotton, and soaked , for two nights (it was to be overnight - but life is busy) in 3/4 cup white vinegar and warm water. I mixed up 4 squeezy bottles of strong dye, rose pink (powder), blue, reddish yellow, and purple. I squeezed out the soaked skein, laid the table with two old towels, made my circle of plastic wrap, donned glubs. In our house all our children seem to have difficulty with saying gloves, so here such are known as glubs.

I squirted, I massaged, I transferred to soggy pile to a casserole, and zapped it on high for 2 mins, it was luke warm. I zapped for another 2 minutes. I considered the steam and boil and bake methods, they all cooked the yarn for 40 minutes ... so I zapped for 5 minutes on med high. The plastic went a bit crunchy - but the yarn was steaming.

I rinsed the yarn in warm water, until the water ran clear, which was almost immediately. I wrapped the skein in a towel and stomped it. The skein hung up in a warm spot to dry and was wound off into a ball. The yarn is brilliantly intensely coloured, rich, dark, strong, which I just can not capture on camera, I have tried to deepen the colours using photo shop, but they are still not as deep as in real life.

How did the colours go? Well the rose is deep deep blue red, the purple is deep, the red yellow strong, and all of these are even. But the blue, its mottly, not in a bad way but not an even take up of dye. It ranges from light blue, to teal, to olive, to green, to deeper blue. I have sinced learned that blues are difficult, and wondered if my vinegar load was to much? But it is attractive, and I am tempted to dye just using blue and see if the uptake is as varried.

So what to knit with my fab new yarn? I needed a project that would take less than 50g's . I decided on mittens for the smallest member of the household. The yarns ball band called for 3.25 mm, but I know I like a firmer gauge than most patterns and yarns recommend, so pulled out 2.5 mm's. I pulled out Anna Zilboorgs Magnificent Mittens from the book case stash. I'v had this book for ages, and regularly take it to bed to read before sleeping, but have not attempted any yet. I used the cast on method, and followed instructions. As for size, I drew around Poppy's paw/hand and knit to shape/width as I went. I put in a row of temporary knitting where the thumb should be, and knitted to a length below her wrist. I freed up the stitches where the thumb should be, picked them up, and knit the thumb. Two decrease rows and grafted 6 stitches across the top.

I am a little worried about the limited yarn I have, so have stopped mitten one before the wrist cuff, and knit up mitten two, I divided the remaining yarn into two equal length balls, and will knit the ribing until I run out. The wrist rib is on 2mm needles, and K2P2. Next post I will publish details, guage, and size, 'cos at the moment I don't know that info, this is a knit and fit as you go project.