Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Slow progress ...

One of the 'problems' with having multiple projects, or time consuming projects on the go, is seemingly lack of progress to show for any time spent knitting. Today is just a progress report, some knitting (Andean hat), some spinning (corridale roving), some buying (weird needles, and clasps for Fannigan), some reading (Clara's yarn book).

Andean knitting, I must be a process knitter, I am loving the challenge of knitting this one, even though I can't even think of a wearer for it. First challenge is the colour work in purl with the floats across the knit side, I was worried about tension - even though my purls tend to be tighter than my knits, but so far so good. The exiting thing with this project is I only have a text photo copy of the pattern, so no photo, drawing or illustration to go on, its like making a surprise, I read a few lines ahead and 'discover' the next pattern section of the hat emerging from the needles. I'm up to the 'comb' pattern, 3 rows of K1 colour 1, K1 colour 2, then a row of colour 2. I think I have left the purl colour work behind, but do quite like the appearance of the little purl squares. Each change in colour is worked on a knit row - so the squares have a subtle separation or indent between them, they remind me of little squares of chocolate or computer buttons. btw the knitting is upside down in this photo,

And spinning, this is my new favourite thing, really it is, I love watching the soft bulky roving being pulled into fine smooth twisted singles. I have filled 2 and a half bobbins so far, and earlier this evening I stopped to do a little test plying. I plied together around 1.5m of 3 singles, and then a similar amount of 2 ply. I soaked these in hot water, and hung up to dry. I think I will make this yarn 3 ply - and it gave me a good indication of the 'correct' amount of twist to add - I over-twisted the 3 ply tester. If I feed in nearly twice as much singles yarn as I feed in roving, per treadle I should have a better behaved amount of twist. Why 3 ply - because I feel it will even out the irregularities in my beginner knitting more than 2 ply. I'm getting around 20 minutes pure spinning each morning, after Bear catches the bus to work, while the kids play and watch tv, before I have to transport them to school and me to work, and another 30 mins or so before the evening meal. I never know what to call that meal, half of the locals call it dinner, while the other half call a mid-day meal dinner, and the evening one tea. I was an import from Auckland at age 7- so that totally confused me as a kid. I never quite knew what meal I was invited for. Weird - but I think it comes from ancestral origins in different parts of Gt Britain, and and when the main meal was eaten in those parts of society (working class or upper class).

I've finally had some useful information about using the different combinations of bobin and flyer whorls on the Ashford Double Drive Traveller, most sites or the Ashford book discuss setting it up rather than the intricacies of using it in its different double drive modes. Eepster, at KR provided some guide lines, here, put simply - big flyer whorl and the small end of the bobbin, give a low twist yarn, and the small flyer whorl and the large end of the bobbin give a more tightly twisted yarn. Knowledge = power! I was doing small flyer whorl, and large end of bobbin - hence the over twist. Perhaps I should ply on the 'other' setting?

Clasps, I ordered two different types for Fannigan, the top ones from School House Press, on their recommendation, as the lightest and smallest they have in stock. The ones below the tape were from Knit Witts Yarn shop and are Dale of Norway clasps. These are I think my favorite, but I'll wait until the front bands are done before I decide finally. I did find not many places indicated size on their sites, but both of these are pewter not foiled nylon or plastic.

And these little oddities, which are twice as long as the photo shows, and have a knitting point on the other end. I sort of given up on the mythical addi turbo cro-needle, , just like the famous David Reidy, from sticks'n'string. But I did learn from David and his followers about these little hooked needles on sale at Lacis, traditionally used for Portuguese knitting (how to videos here and here), but ideal for picking up stitches around edges - just like on Fannigan! And cheaper! I stuffed up my order, and thought I was getting a set of 5, each in a different size, US0-4, but I got 5 all sized 2. I've been in contact with Lacis, and it was my error, I have now got a multi sized set coming - so now I have a set I guess sometime, well I just might learn how to knit Portuguese style. And yes, since you ask, some months I do contribute a little to New Zealands import/export exchange!

And new book, Suzanne/Magpie, well the two of us have been exchanging favors, Suzanne has family history links to Dunedin, that I've been able to source details on, and I wanted things from Knitpics who won't ship internationally, and for now I seem to have the best end of the deal. Suzanne gifted me a copy of Clara Parke's (Queen Bee at Knitters Review) new book - The Knitters Book of Yarn, the Ultimate guide to choosing, using and enjoying yarns. This book should be on any thinking knitters wish list, if not on their bookcase. Clara discusses fiber types, yarn types, whole chapters and ideas for 2ply, and then 3 ply, and 4 ply .... oh the information in this book. For me, a happy successful knitter is an informed knitter, and Claras book would go a long way towards making that happen.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

make 46 tiny Punta you say?

Today I attempt to explain what are tiny Punta (hint : Andean knitting), a "3 hours and I only knit that" moment, new imports from the USA, some exquisitely made stitch markers, and super pointy knitpics harmony wooden circs that make Brother Amos sock number two and the 2-circ method a success, and I start a roving stash. btw Fannigan is on hold until some longer 2mm circs arrive from the UK.

So, what is a tiny Punta you ask, well I was asking that just yesterday myself at 11am, now I know so I'll share. Yesterday was the first of the two Andean knitting workshops, mostly based on the two editions of Marcia Lewandowski's book Andean Folk Knits: Great Designs from Peru, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador & Bolivia. Both editions of the book were there to look at and they are different. The older edition has more history, the latter edition more patterns for contemporary variations in larger than historically correct gauges. I've ordered a 2nd hand copy of the book, and hope its an older one. Lorna, our local knit guru was there and so patient and helpful - she is a amazing. I've lent her my EZ glossary dvd and had many admire my cabled cardigan, especially the zip. I like that class, they notice the little things in your knitting. Pauline had the most amazing lace shawl in black - the lace gods are conspiring to tempt me, resistance appears to be futile. Sorry borg star trek moment there.

So the Punta are little points or triangles created along a cast on edge and used in Andean knitting, especially hats, for boys and men. Yesterday I spent about an hour and a half with vintage steel 2mm dpns and 3 colours of yarn creating my very own Punta & popcorn sampler. Popcorn a little bobbles. It wasn't pretty, nor easy, involving crocheting a chain (think super fine fingering and 2mm), picking up 7 stitches at a time in a 2nd colour on a dpn sliding these to the 'other end' then knitting and decreasing in a 3rd and possibly 4th colour to create the little points. Once I mangled opps - managed a few the process became much clearer, and easier. But 3 hours latter I only had a little 1.5" square sampler to show. I tried to cast on for the hat, repeatedly in class, but it needed more time and focus to pick up all those little loops on the crochet chain than was possible in a busy class. At home I crocheted the loops over a circular needle - much easier.

So I've chosen the more adventurous of the 2 projects on offer, the other is a little bag. That is where the 46 tiny Punta come in, which are followed by around 20 -30 colour work rows in predominantly purl. Yes purl and the floats are on the other side - and only last post I was practicing my purl colour work in the flat colour work sampler. Well it paid of, I'm fast becoming proficient at it, although it is harder to work than knit and I can't wait until the knit section begins. And no, it probably wouldn't be easier to knit, and yes, I know Andeans purled differently - but we can only go so far in a project. I'm using the swatch from last week to select colours, so far its looking good. And I have no idea who will wear this, a total process project, but it will prepare me to knit the next Bohus as a flat cardigan, not steeked.

And these little sweeties, very clever and cool stitch markers designed to accompany CB'sock architecture book. Sent to me by Suzanne, along with some knitpicks circular needles I'd ordered delivered to her (why oh why won't they ship overseas?). Thank-you again Suzanne, huge favor and much appreciated as you know. These little stitch markers make me think of William Morris, and his 'have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful' to me these are both. See the little hinge so they sit flat against the knitting, cool and clever! From the Etsy shop HIDEandSHEEP if you want some of your own.

And Brother Amos, sock 2 this time is being knit on 2-circs, the Knitpics harmony in 2.25mm. Wow are these pointy, I love them, I tried to photograph the points, but no luck, you will just have to believe me these are very seriously pointy points. With these needles my previous complaints about 'snagging' of stitches when knitting the 2-circ way is no longer valid - I can finally see the merit of the method, especially for lace. No more juggling and splitting pattern repeats over multiple dpns.

and fibre stash, today I hit the buy now on 1kg of silver gotland carded roving on trademe(new zealands e-bay, it was cheap). Gotland were one of the sheep breeds my postdoc involved, but I only ever had leather, so when i spotted it I was curious. I'm told the fiber is long and softens beautifully when washed - so I'll let you know how that goes early next year. I'm working my way thru 600g of Ashfords corridale roving, so after that .... I'll be ready.

Take care

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Back on track, lots of updates, and a new video

Today, I take risks with my knitting, I've got a video showing how I pick up stitches, some colour work swatching, and progress on a hibernating project, I'm putting my first spinning and plying efforts on display to the world, I dig up an old skill for show and tell, and my 'polish' recipe as requested especially for KathyR

So first up, I sat down a few days ago to pick up the band / facing stitches on Fannigan, and Bear asked if I wanted a wine, mmm wine and knitting mmm? .... wine and knitting fine gauge? ... wine and picking up up stitches at 8.5 spi on 2mm circs .... "oh why not I replied". So here is my dicing with danger, drinking and picking up stitches at the same time - which I am sure is both illegal or encouraged some where in the world. So how do I pick up stitches, well I use a crochet hook, and a long circular needle thus ...

but I imagine most people pick up stitches like this, but I find that is fiddly for a few reasons, it seems harder for continental, because I like a firmer gauge which makes hooking the stitches through with a knitting pin more difficult, and I am using a larger needle. Why - so the first row of picked up stitches will be loose enough for me to pick up the loops on the back and knit them into a facing to cover the steek. It all went very well, but is on hold while I wait for some much longer 2mm Addi Turbo's from Kangaroo to arrive. I just hope that I made the right call, in dropping from a 2.5mm needle for the body, to a 2mm for the facing, I have picked up stitch for stitch, not 3 in 4 ... I'll let you know.

And, Andean knitting workshop this Saturday, yeah!, Instructions were to bring lots of fine gauge yarn, in colours (got that - remember that weekend spend dying a few weeks ago), and appropriate needles. Well - to work out "appropriate" one has to swatch, so I swatch on 2mm needles, and it seems fine, then - I thought "perhaps I should work out some colour combinations in advance" -- well what do you know, I've got a mini colour work blanket. And all in the flat, so colour work was done in the flat, including purling! Maybe I need the tee shirt "feel the fear and purl anyway"? And the really good news is I washed it and soaked it and the colour didn't run - always a fear with dark blue with white, and especially so for a novice dyer like myself.

And here is the almost forgotten or hibernating Garter rib cardie for Bear, back on the needles for a short spell while I worked out what to do with Fannigan's steek.I've worked about 30 cm of the 40 cm required for the body and I am still liking the garter rib. One row K3P1, next row K. I also like the inside, a rustic nubby texture - there are possibilities there for other garments methinks, or this one if Bear like it. I'm not liking the yarn so much, its sticky, and drags ... but it was cheap, and is soft when washed.

And this little nubbly and lumpy and uneven yarn is my first 'baby' born of the spinning wheel, all 90m. I'm told that I need to keep this as a reference point or latter.

And this is my finally using the white roving I bought with the wheel from Ashfords, Corridale for beginners?. When I switched from spinning the coarse sticky brown fibre to this, it nearly slipped out of my paws, but 2 days latter and I'm much more happy with my yarn. I've set the traveller up as a double drive, for aesthetic reasons, I thought the scotch tension 'looked' messy, and because I read once on a knitters review thread and in the Ashford book that double drives produce a firmer more even yarn which is what I want to knit with. Oh the things we do when we don't know what we should do.

Tatting - Before I was a knitter, well I've knit since I was 8 or so, but only in the last 4 or 5 years have I been a "thinking knitter", I had other fiber crafts. I sewed. and tailored and draped garments, I patch-worked, I made porcelain dolls, and I tatted edgings for reproductions of historical doll clothes. The pen is for scale. This is a tatted lace edging, abandoned some years ago - probably interrupted by my PhD, I put a lot of my previous life on hold to finish that within the scholarship period. Some how after a 3 year 'hobby' break, I picked up new hobbies, but recently chatting with lace-lunatic Suzanne aka Magpie (who kindly shipped me knitpics harmony circs to work brother Amos sock 2 on and a set of gorgeous stitch markers for CB's sock architecture book - pictures next time) we've been discussing Tatting. A very portable activity.

So Polish, I'm sure this recipe isn't copyrighted, its pretty generic, and I've got several variations in several old and new woodwork and housekeeping naturally books, one book even credits it to Queen Victoria who apparently liked the smell! Like the woman made polish and used it!
  1. 1 cup bees wax
  2. 10 cups fresh lavender flowers, or half a cup lemon peel or few drops essential oil
  3. 4 cups linseed oil (thats a litre bottle) or olive oil if using on food safe bowls and boards, even sweet almond oil - in short any oil you fancy.
Heat the wax and the lavender flowers or lemon peel gently, in a double boiler or metal bowl over a pan of simmering water. When melted add the oil carefully, stir for 3 minutes, pour into clean tins or warm jars (not plastic), straining out the flowers thru muslin. Leave to set.
To use rub in with a soft cloth, leave 30 minutes and polish of any excess with a clean cloth. Store covered or it forms a skin on the surface. The linseed smell is quite 'pungent' at first but in a month or two the polish smell softens and the lemon or lavender or orange comes thru. You can use immediately. Apply two coats to raw wood and refresh yearly with one coat.

We make a batch every now and then and it lasts us 3-4 years, and that includes giving away at least one jar. It refreshes old varnished wood items nicely, but not polyurethane'd items. And I don't think the quantities are to exact, if you want a softer polish use more oil, and for harder more wax ...

we interupt the regular programming to bring the following announcement

Bear insisted I draw the 'randomly selected official 10,000th visitor from those who had left comments today. The visitor count had climbed to 10,112, well past the 10,050 cut off.
Following strict protocol, all names of those commenting recently were written on small slips of paper, these were folded, and placed in Poppy's crochet hat. Bear drew one name out and the official 'randomly selected 'ten thousandth visitor to knitknitfrog is Sarah, so I've left Sarah a note, and I've got 2 skeins of yarn and 2 stitch markers to send.
This is turning into a regular awards speech, but thanks to all the visitors, - who stop by and see what I'm doing, and sometimes pause to leave a note, much appreciated :-D

Regular full service with resume shortly, with photographs & knitting

Friday, October 19, 2007

I'm enabled...

Today, I'm enabled to spin, Brother Amos number 1 is finished (so half a FO?), and I will provide details of the fit when knit on smaller needles, I borrowed a big knitting book, and finally I cut both the Fannigan steeks, but I'm no further along with deciding what to do with the edges. I'll continue to collect readers comments for a 10K visitor thank-you gift over the next week or so, visitors between 9950 and 1050 methinks, so do leave a note letting me know you called in, and I put you in the draw.

A few days ago, reading Janes post about enabling a knitter to spin, about buying a wheel and putting it together and getting her spinning in a few hours before she left to drive home, well it seemed so easy. Why was I leaving my Ashford in the box? Why, if it only took a few hours to get up and going? Why? So completely missing the fact Jane was speaking about an Ashford Joy wheel, this morning I decided to start assembling my Ashford Traveller. At 9am I opened the box, I rubbed linseed and wax polish over all the pieces. This is our 'household' polish and we make batches every few years, the current batch is lavender scented.

Long story short, a few cups of tea, a few false starts, a little help at times from Bear, and by 12:30 it was all together. Love that wax polish, takes no time to dry. Oh the polish will cure and harden over the next few days, and darken a little, but there is no drying time to speak of on a warm sunny day. And no (hangs head in shame) the assignment is not done, I have an extension, but the end is in sight.

And the first Brother Amos sock is of the needles, I just have to weave the i-cord ends in invisibly to finish it, but I will do the pair together. The pattern worked well, I followed the instructions almost exactly except
  1. for using completely smaller needles,
  2. reworking the heel cup,
  3. and using using 3 different sized needles on the leg not two.
The toe was knit on 2mm needles, the foot, heel and first lace repeat of the leg knit on 2.25mm, the 2nd lace repeat of the leg knit on 2.75mm, and the 3rd and last lace repeat and i-cord on 3mm needles. The pattern increases needle size to widen the leg to fit the calf, and that worked really well as you can see in the flat sock photo, I went up one needle size at a time with each lace repeat, from 2.25mm, to 2.75mm and 3mm

My dainty wee foot is 10" long, or 25.5cm, and measures 9.5" or 24cm around the ball of the foot. Brother Amos is designed for a L womens foot, size 10 - sorry I've no idea what that is in local sizes, and the intended gauge on 2.5mm needles is 30(7.5 spi). I knit the womens size but with the mens 'lace' so used M1 not YO and have no holes.
Knitting on 2.25mm needles with a guage of 8.5spi fits made a sock that fits me fine, I think the foot is a tad slightly short, but only just, the heel flap just curves under - see? To fix this for sock two I will knit the toe section 1/4" or .5 cm longer which is all it needs to fit me. I probably will cut off the toe of sock one, and reknit it 'top down', fusspot that I am.

And I have a new book in the house, on loan, Principles of Knitting, by June Hemmons Hiatt, this is the one that sells for mega dollars on amazon second hand. And I do mean mega, US$179! I was interloaning some stuff at work and realised that i could look this one over by interloan, so its mine for 4 weeks, from the Hamilton public library, thanks ratepayers! And what do I think? Well .... its good, very good, very very good but.... its dated and opinionated. June believes there is only one way to knit - hers, and if you knit some other way and it works, you can keep doing that, but if all knitters learn to knit like her, well they won't have problems. The chapters, and I do mean separate chapters, of close spaced text and lots of words on increasing, decreasing, and making symmetrical vs leaning eyelets, and such, are full of detail, much of it very good value. If this book were under $100 new, I would buy it, I'd prefer it to be under $40, but it is a big book, at 571 A4 pages so would be pricey. Dated, yes, there is a whole lot of this and more recent technical knitting information out there on the web, like Techknitting, where I've recently been reading about the new and improved ssk, the sytk, which I am really keen to try. I know that a good wash or two makes most paired decreases look better, but I'm feeling the need to soon make my own personal sampler of increases and decreases, just to work thru the many and varied options myself, and decide what works best for me.

And fannigan was steeked on Thursday night, in the foyer outside the University library, with Jenny steeking her hand spun sweater armholes beside me. The neck worked, it fits better than I hoped. No monkey arms, the cuffs sit low on my wrists and a little extra length pools, and I've got a nice slim fit thru the body. I will pick up the edging stitches this weekend sometimes, its a long weekend, so we have an extra day. And its asparagas season, so off to Palmerston to buy farm fresh and eat green meals for the week. Yum.

Here is the cut edge from the inside, I probably will cut away much of the 'extra' steek stitches, right back to the 2nd line of stitching. I'm tending towards a facing similar to the baby blanket one, completely hiding the cut edges. The only question is moss stitch or rib, I think moss stitch, and an i-cord edge. Fannigan was knit on 2.5mm Addi needles, so I aim to drop to 2mm for the facing, which should work.

ok, I'm off to play with my new wheel now ........

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

off the needles

but not yet finished, so close, sooo close. Today its all about the Fannigan Cardigan, oh and my first very nearly real home made yarn. Oh and if you do visit me this week please leave a comment, with some contact details, I've got a little give away to celebrate my 10,000 visitor, While I won't be able to pinpoint just who that is, leave me a note in the next few weeks and I'll organize draw one lucky name out of a hat to send a something to.

Fannigan is finished, nearly, very nearly finished. After the last post I worked a few more rounds decreasing at the front neck edge, then decided that it probably really did need some short rows. After all what sort of cardigan doesn't have a higher back neck? Besides if I continued with decreasing at the front neck edge to raise the back neck, well the neck 'hole' would end up very very narrow, and that would never be a good look. I've have to cut away more than the planned steeks to get a good fit. So I did short row until the back neck was just over 1" higher than the front. I worked carefully - and don't think there is any visible difference between the 'in the round' knitting and the 'flat' short rows. I worked my short rows 5 stitches shorter each time, which seems to work well in this gauge.

I did end up working all the colour work rows in purl, which was good, in a strange way, now I know I can. You see I have another Bohus kit stashed away(large rose lace collar), but I want to knit it as a fitted cardigan, only I don't want to purl so many colour work rows. Now I know I can, if I have to, I can, I don't think I want to commit to that amount of purling, but, I conceivably could.

So I finished knitting, and cast off, That was Monday morning before work. Monday night I steamed her gently, and stitched two rows of machine stitching up either side of each steek. I know you can crochet steeks, and Pam at knit night suggested that hand sewing especially if you make sure the sewing stitches split the knitted yarns with each stitch gives a result that is nice an flexible, and the Zimmer-folk use a steek one stitch wide, but I didn't know much of that when I started Fannigan all those months ago. Besides - I was being super careful. The baby blanket steek was 3 stitches, and it worked, but the colour work wasn't so easy across that small steek. Fannigan has a steek of 10 stitches, and that is to big, but the colour work across the steek was much easier. I will trim much of this steek away.

Any way, prep images of the machine stitched steek. That shows up much better on the 'wrong' side, so I will cut inside out. You can hardly see the stitching lines on the right side. I plan to trim away the middle section of the steek eventually - maybe - perhaps....depending on what I do to finish the edges.

I promised Spinning Jenny at knit -night, that if she brings her fair isle, we can steek it Thursday night. She has had this knit for many many years (10!), so steeking is long overdue. If Jenny does bring hers, I will haul out Fannigan, and we can steek together - a steek-along at short notice! If not, I will have bear record the surgery this weekend and post a video.

So the next issue is how to finish the steeked edge, I already know I'm using clasps not buttons, so won't need button holes. But
  1. do I knit on a double facing as I did on the baby blanket?
  2. do I knit on a button band for the clasps and hide the steek 'raw' edge with a ribbon facing sewn inside?
  3. do the raw edges need hiding, or just catch stitching down as done by Zimmer-folk?
  4. do I single crochet the band, as discussed on Brenda Daynes Cast-on last season?
  5. Do I moss stitch and i-cord just like the baby blanket, or some other stitch?
  6. do I bind in fabric, woven or stretch (note - must take yarn to fabric store and scope colour matches)
  7. or some other solution?

... and to finish my first real yarn plied on the spindle.
This photo is a little out of date, I've now skeined it, there was 62 wraps on a 1.5m ninny-noddy, so 90 or so meters. Maybe enough for some wrist thingies for Toby?. Then I soaked it, dried it (a little to much twist methinks but not to bad for a beginner), and wound it onto a center pull ball. Better photo next time.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

3 kinds of progress

Today, finally some real progress on Fannigan to report, Brother Amos' sock 1 nears completion, and I reuse household stuff to aid my spinning.

First, Fannigan, finally a progress report. Hilary asked me to remind her just what colours Fannigan really is. Well, as you noticed. apparently a really difficult colour to photograph accurately. My best description would be dark blue based red and petrol blue, the close up image here is pretty accurate. Some times when I see some of the photos, I panic and wonder if I have created a Christmas themed red and green cardie from a sit-com holiday special. If it turns out like that Eeeeek!

So far I have exhausted the front raglan decreases, but continued with half the decreases along the neck edge. I am starting to think I will need to raise the back neck after all my theoretical musings in the last few posts, and so will need some short rows, I will see how much I can eat away off the sleeves with decreases first. If I can eat almost all the sleeve stitches away, I won't need to short row. Thats the steek, the little center section between the stitch markers, with every third row 1x1 colour work. Here is an image of the top of Fannigan, to give a little context. The neckline won't be this small, as there is around 25 cm cast off across the front below the 2nd steek, which forms much of the front neckline. Still don't know what I am doing with the steeked edges after I finish.

... and Brother Amos, goes well as you can see. The original pattern calls for 2.5mm and 3.25 mm needles. I wanted a firmer gauge than the original 30 sts per 4inches, so
have used 2mm for the toe, 2.25mm needles for the foot, heel and lower calf, I've now switched to using 2.75mm, for one repeat, but will change to 3mm for the last repeat just to make sure they fit, and maybe 3.25 for the i-cord? My unwashed gauge ended up being 8.5spi on 2.25mm on the stocking stitch of the sole. so 34 spi.

I have toyed with threading on a circular and trying on. But usually think of that once its close to bedtime and I'm comfortable on the couch, so it hasn't happened but I should do that. I am pleased there isn't much difference in the appearance of the pattern between smaller and larger needles, that was a worry.

And spinning, yes the Ashford is still in the box, and I'm marking time with the spindle. I wound off a spindle full a week or so ago, onto a spare dowel. The project I have to write up, and that will fuel an abstract due December is not getting as much time as it should, so Ashford remains in the box till thats done. Last I attempted to ply singles I had wound the singles off into a ball and I had problems with feeding, twisting and generally kinking up when I tried to ply. I thought a more bobbin like arrangement might be easier to control so I wound the last full spindle off onto a dowel core. I've now filled a second spindle full and am in process of winding that off. Much of what I read suggests singles are easier to deal with if left to 'rest' overnight, so rest they will.

Do you like the new 'bobbin' holder I'm using. In a former life this basket held play-doh utensils. I spotted the basket on a shelf behind Bear at breakfast this morning over coffee after pancakes. We spurge on Sundays, not sure if its a reward for making it thru another week, or a treat before the next week descends, could be both. We try and use Montessori principles here, my kids play with a small assortment of toys although they have many many toys its one thing at a time, and tidy it up before starting something new, it kinda works. To help with that, we have most of the playthings stored by type in separate baskets on book-case shelves, the clean up is faster and neater, and this was in the bookcase in the dining room. The circular holes in this basket looked just perfect for not only storing spindle bobbins, and winding off or plying, but the basket looked great for lying fiber to be spun in as well. Don't worry - the play-doh stuff is safe in a different basket, but at 5 and 8, we might be on to air dry clay, and 'propper' fired clay at art school. Play-doh (both the bought and home made kinds) might have had its day.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

I might be right, or I might be wrong...

Only time will tell, I've been both many many times.
So my knit-life has had two or three problems, problems? No not really problems, Worries, no not even worries, well I'm not sure what to call them. Moments of indecision maybe, or better yet moments of uncertainty about what to do next, yes thats it, What Do I Do Next, and Will It Work?

Uncertain about what you ask? Well Brother Amos, and Fannigan, and why a double yarn channel island cast on would unravel, especially if the socks in question were hand washed?.
First up Brother Amos.

Brother Amos, sorry gratuitous colour shot there, I'm so pleased with the way the dye worked on this yarn, but I couldn't get the heel to work out. I am working the reverse gusset and heel flap version, Brenda has provided two options, short row heel and reverse gusset and flap, and heel flaps just fit so much better on my feet. The flap is based on the Widdershins gusset and heel flap, knit from the toe up but seemingly identical to the old fashioned top down sock shaping. Widdershins, I have knit many, many many times in many many sizes (ages 4-ages 53). I started to knit the heel-cup Sunday night, but left the main knitting till last Monday night. But frogged the heel cup not one, not twice but three times, that same night. I could not make it work. I so wanted it to work.

In the pattern for the heel cup, the w&t ends up being performed on a M1 stitch, which is very very odd. I thought it was so odd there would be a 'special' note to that effect written in the pattern for Brother Amos', but there is not. So I went back to Widdershins, which was the inspiration for Bro Amos's heel and compared the two heel cups. I found four differences
  1. Brenda has improved the pattern, all the M1's are on the knit rows, in Widdershins they are on alt knit and purl rows, so while Widdershins is 'lopsided' by one row, Bro Amos is not. Well done Brenda!
  2. Brenda has included very clever tips for knitting up the wraps, that work and these appear invisible when finished. Again well done Brenda!
  3. Widdershins, always has a K1 after a M1, which is missing from Bro. Amos, well there is a S1 before the M1L, but no K1 after the M1R, so I added one (which I have written out in pattern instructions below)
  4. there seems to be a missing M1R on row 6 as at least one other Raveller suggests
    There is also a missing M1 in the 'fixed' chart, but we will let that one go for now.

My altered pattern now reads thus(Note: I've kept Brenda's original numbering even though there are two row 1's)

  • Row 1: K16, Pm, K1, M1L, K18, M1R, K1, yarn fwd to wrap next stitch (note this wrapped stitch is the stitch that is slipped on the next row), PM, Turn
  • Row 1: S1, P19, w&t
  • Row 2: S1, M1l, K14, M1R, K1, w&t
  • Row 3: S1, P15, w&t
  • Row 4: S1, M1L, K10, M1R, K1, w&t
  • Row 5: S1, P11, w&t
  • Row 6: S1, M1L, K6, M1R, K1, w&t
  • Row 7:S1, P7, w&t
  • Row 8: S1, M1L, K2, M1R, K1, w&t
  • then as written from row 9 onwards as in the pattern. This 'amateur' correction seems to work as shown in the photo. I am quite taken by the idea of wrapping M1 stitches so I maybe should have persevered, but as I couldn't 'get my head around them', well maybe another sock, another day?

And Fannigan?
First a little background. Fannigan is my self developed/designed, Fanna inspired cardigan, a short waisted, slightly boxy, cardigan, with a lowered square neckline, and raglan sleeves, knit and shaped entirely in the round. Knit on 2.5mm needles, using a 50:50 silk merino blend. Because Fannigan is not only knit in the round, but shaped entirely in the round it wouldn't sit flat if you laid it out. If I were to cut Fannigan apart on imaginary side seam and under arm seam lines, and cut right down the center front line and the center back line, and flatten it out, well Fannigan would look a little like this. (Breathe now, it was a theoretical cutting, not real cutting, there were no scissors!). Well kind of like this, this is a diagram of half-a-Fannigan.

Notice the front has a steek, then above the cast off for the neckline, there is another steek. That 2nd steek so far has allowed me to continue to shape the front and back raglan sleeve into the body while knitting in the round. I am now at the point where the front raglan shaping has exhausted, meaning I've decreased until the raglan decrease line has intersected with the neckline.

Then I got stuck, well I knew the back neck needed 'raising', to create the fit I wanted. I knew that usually this was done with short rows. I also knew that suddenly switching to short rows could cause problems, mostly as I knit Fannigan totally in the round, and despite my best efforts with the colour change every 3 rows and every third row with two colours, there was a very real danger of my purl tension showing up as markedly different like this (sorry Cindy).

If I continue to work a modified version of the raglan shaping on either side of the neck steek, (ssk on one side, and K2tog on the other side), then I should have the equivalent of short row shaping to raise the back neckline higher than the front. Notice I say should, the past few days I have sketched countless little diagrams, to prove to myself on paper this will work. I have perused the many many pattern making books on the shelf behind my desk at work, Helen Joseph Armstrong, Winifred Aldrich, Natallie Bray, Lori A Knowles, and Martin. These were no help at all. Those sources for making patterns for sewn garments all showed me diagrams indicating that as well as the raglan shaping, I should have additional shaping from the tip of the shoulder to the neck line. When a pattern maker makes a pattern for a raglan sleeved garment, to be cut from either woven or knit fabric, they end up with a dart from the shoulder point to the neck. Elizabeth's raglan formula doesn't use this dart. I think I understand that by using the stretch of the knit fabric together with a slightly looser fit, the dart is not necessary to successful fitting of the EZ raglan. It is about now I admit my 'day job' is teaching pattern making and construction, including tailoring and drape techniques to final year students on a fashion design degree.

That appears to have set me up perfectly to over-think a problem like this.

So, finally I've decided, to continue half the raglan shaping up along the side of the neck steek, which should replicate the same effect as short row shaping the back neck. Every 2nd row, I will end up knitting 2 stitches fewer, so 2 rows at a time, the back neck will grow taller than the front neck raglan shaping line. Let me know if any of you spot any fatal errors in my logic, please?

And the cast on which didn't last, look! The top edge of Pomatomus, where I used a channel island cast on, with the yarn doubled around my thumb, so should be a long lasting and secure knot - but no...., so sometime in the next week or so, I will mend Pomatomus. I just don't understand, she was hand washed, so maybe the pegs damaged the bamboo fibres? But there is 75% wool in there as well. I just don't understand.

Friday, October 05, 2007

a tad late, but Ta Da anyway!

Hedgerow is finished, well you knew that, but here are the images to prove it, and Brother Amos' grows, I mouth bad words and blame some tools like a bad workman, and another sock book or two, plus my latest spindle progress (yes, the Ashford is still in the box!). I can be a patient soul.

So, hedgerow, all done and worn and washed, and worn again. This is such a nice comfortable sock, thanks again Jane for the pattern! I will knit this one again, for both Toby and for Bear, but first Brother Amos.

This is how Brother Amos looked a day or so ago, I frogged the toe several times, and struggled with both the 2-circ method, and the sherman toe. Why did I struggle with the 2-cric method that so many love? Well I blame my tools, my Inox 2.25mm have a little bend just before the join and despite looking smooth snag the stitches every time at that **** join. I've tried to show the difference between the two needles joins but not sure this is a visible difference, it is a performance one. My 2mm and my 2.5mm addi's don't snag and are smooth and hitch free. So I blame my tools, call me a poor workman/workwoman/workperson, but I still blame my Inox needles. Suzanne who comments here often, suggested going a down a size for the toe and heel - something I would never have thought of. But a very good idea to add extra durability and it doesn't even show where I switched needle size. And using 2 circs with smooth needles like the Addis? That was Magic, but I don't have needles in the right size (2.25mm) yet to continue that way for the entire sock, but I soon will !

I did however loove judy's magic cast on, another one of those very clever knitters who share their clever ideas with us mere mortals of the knit world. One day that might be me!, What didn't I like about the sherman toe that Brenda D loves, well it involves short rows (fine by me), and done without wraps (again perfectly fine by me), but because of that it means shaping every row, not every 2nd row, which for us of the longer leaner (boney?) feet variety of human, well we need more length to our toe shaping. I have my dads bony feet. Also I do like a row of plain to allow the extra bulk of the increases (or decreases) to become meshed in to the knit fabric. With shaping at the same place every row - well there tends to be a bulk and stiffness to that section of knitting that throws me out of sorts - I just don't like it. So I substituted a toe, with standard increases every 2nd row, one stitch from each side of the foot, on the instep and the sole.

This is how Brother Amos looks now, today, after a night knitting last night. The lace pattern is working out fine, near the end of the second repeat, i found myself not needing the chart at all. I've just started the gusset increases, and my hand dyed flame yarn is working out well. I am quietly proud of this. I must return to Fannigan, I promise more on that next time.

And yes, I am still working with the spindle, this is some 'free' fiber, gifted by a work collegue who found out I bought a spinning wheel. I was warned it would happen, free fibre, and it did! Its old, naturally brown, and kind of dry yet sticky, but its spinning up nice and even and fine. Jenny, a spinner and knitter of considerable experience, yet new to our knit-night group, showed Kelly, a founding member the basics of spinning this week while we met. She also showed me, and I learned so much about feeding the fiber into the twist, and that little 5-10 minute practice, well it improved my spindle spinning amazingly.
For comparison - here is my first every plied spindle yarn. Well its yarn, but as I announced at knit night, well i wouldn't buy it. Still it is yarn, and it is mine, and I made it.

and books, yes I've added a few recently, Cat Bordhi's New pathways, Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks, Patterns for Guernsey's, Jersey and Arans, by Gladys Thompson, and of course the Ashford Book of Spinning by Anne Field. My library grows! So I have no idea what I am going to do next, other than knit and read.... finish that study report so I can unpack the Ashford. I think my deadline is end October, so things could get busy. Oh - and I have booked to got to a knitting designing weekend workshop mid November, so I'll tell more about that next time.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Will this work x 2?

Today I have questions about two of my current projects: Fannigan and brother Amos', sorry there is still no final pretty photo of my finished hedgerow socks, new-old yarn so not adding to the stash at all, and Curley Bear is modeling that Guernsey,

So here is Fannigan, I'm working away on the yoke, maybe a third of the way up? I wanted Fannigan to have a square neckline, so cast off stitches across the front, and have cast on a second steek and continued to knit the yoke. I decided to cast off as I would be picking up stitches down the front and around the upright neck edge, so leaving the stitches live would look different there. I am thinking of either a finish simillar to that used on my recent baby blanket, or a garter border. The blanket finish would conceal the steek edges neatly but with some bulk, the garter boarder would make button holes easier, but then I would have to neaten the steek ... I could use grosgrain ribbon, if I can find some to match. I had planned to bind the edges in knit or woven wool - but again can't find an exact match. Decisions, decisions, some deciding to do.

I'm assuming that continuing with the yoke shaping will work, that it won't look to odd. I know my steeks are way to big, at 10 stitches, but will put in a double row of machine stitching to hold them secure and trim them back.

Here is a better view of what Elizabeth Zimmerman calls the Kangaroo pouch.

And details of how I have managed to work the colour work repeat into the raglan shapping. In every colour work row, I made sure I place a contrasting stitch in the middle of a K2 tog, k1, ssk raglan decrease. Pretty, no?

I've cast on the next socks, this is the now frogged Julies magic toe up cast on and sherman toe. Oh those techniques worked just fine, in fact the cast on is just plain brilliant, but I wasn't happy with the gauge. Brother Amos is intended to be knit on 2.5mm circs, two of them. I'm ok with that, about time i knit two socks at once on two circs, instead of my favored dpns. But I like a firm sock, for lotsa reasons, first it feels better, smoother, and second it has more resilience (pomatomus was knit on 2.75mm and while nice tends to bag out by the end of the day), and Hedgerow was knit on 2.25mm, which is bigger than I would have done - but works. the rib keeps it snug. But this trekking is fine, for a sock yarn, and I'm thinking of 2mm or 2.25mm but really have not got up the confidence to resize lace socks yet. In the past I have resized quite happily lots of plainish ribbed socks and the whole pattern widdershins to fit every one from my then 4 year old to my hubby, but resizing lace - thats a whole different story.

So I have frogged this start and am thinking of kniting one sock on 2.25mm, in the ladies size L (66 stitches) or one sock on 2mm mens size L (72 stitches). I am tending towards the mens size knit on needles 2 sizes smaller, then i could end up with the ladies size? If I knit one until it fits the ball of my foot, then I could knit the other to match and finish both knitting two-at-the-same-time. If it didn't fit, I could decide it was a prezzie for some one else and keep going or frog it and re-knit with adjustments to the stitches used or the guage (is that knit-knit?)

And here is the finished Gansey, all washed, which made it a much whiter shade of natural yarn and much much softer. Curley has short arms and no neck to speak of, so the neck gussets were eliminated and the sleeves shortened. Curley also has short legs, these were 'commercial' teddy bear clothes, and I ended up taking up the hems! I don't even do that for my hubby! That is one lucky bear.

And yes I have been playing with the left over dyes, and that never ending cone of yarn from the Milton wool mill. I wound off 300m and tried dilute dye. Shirley, just north of here, mentioned in a comment that food dyes produce strong colour for her also. Which made me think, WHY? So this time I really diluted the left over dye, put a tiny squirt into a bowl and added lots of vinegar water, and used a clean pastry brush to stoke it on soaked and wrung out yarn. Look - much softer, Chris suggested it be called Willow, I was thinking Summer Garden, what do you think? And what can I make with 300m of fine fingering? And Tania - this was already in my stash - so its not really adding is it?