Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ccatta hat and Brioche stitch - the video

Today - a quick update on the Ccatta hat which is needed finished by Saturday, my brioche stitch in the round video, and I really should be back to knitting Bear's garter rib cardigan. Thanks again for the comments, yes we are moving into summer, but it is still early spring, so cold days mixed with warm days. The days are longer, its light at 6:30 am when the alarm goes off (small children, long hot showers, lunches to make, coffee to drink...), and yet it is still light outside at 9pm. Being so far south, well the days only get longer, mid summer it is light until at least 10 pm or even later.

It has been a month since I started the Andean Ccatta hat in the knitters study group workshop, and I have not kept up with my home work. The last two nights, spurred on by the looming second session of the workshop, and the foreseen embarrassment of not having being ready for the next stage (adding the ear flaps) I have knit exclusively on my hat. I've just started the decreases, so think I must be over half way. I still have no idea who will wear this hat, but the colours are fantastic, and I get such a buzz out of seeing yarn I dyed myself.

Brioche video. There are other sources on line, a pretty good video here by a fellow kiwi,and a good set of clear photos here. I really think that 2008 might be the year of a new video camera, this one has difficulty focusing close up, so apologies for that - its my camera not your eyes. I attempted to knit brioche in the round using yarn overs and slipped stitches, but could not, just could not, I got so confused by which loops and stitches to knit together with what when, I gave up and went for the variation where you knit into the stitch below - much easier. EZ said it could not be done in the round and the Brioche hat was the one of the few garments made to be worn round that she knit flat. EZ called it the Prime Rib Hat. There are suggestions online to knit it in the round, but many for two colours, resulting in vertical stripes.

So tonight I knit again on the Ccatta hat, and tomorrow at knit night, I will knit some more (assuming I don't get distracted like many other times and knit it all wrong - its happened - don't laugh), and friday night I will again sit and knit - perhaps with that plan I might just be ready to work some ear flaps by class start at 11am this Saturday. The last knitting study group for the year, and as such we are doing a shared lunch.

Now I am also taking Kelly, an import from the US, who discovered early on in her immigrant life here one of our cute yet annoying New Zealand traditions. "Bring a plate", a simple little phrase that we NZ'ders write on invites or say to indicate invited guests should bring along a plate of finger food to share. I've lost count of the numbers of non natives who I've spoken to to have turned up with a plate, or two, and some times even cutlery and glass-wear all empty, and being caught out. What will I bring? Well I was thinking cherry tomatoes speared with a little feta and a basil leaf on a wooden pick sitting in a puddle of good olive oil, or asparagus with aoli on bruschetta and Parmesan curls. I did wonder about Christmas cake, the British heavy rich fruit kind, with thick white icing, but I didn't bake one months ago and commercial ones are usually not as good as home made, beside I am sure some one will bring cake.

And Bears Garter rib cardigan, well once the hat is finished I will knit exclusively on that, he deserves it, and I want it gone, out of my WIP knit basket, I want to knit with some of the yummy yarn in my stash. Still I am only 4 cm from the armhole divide, and then just the sleeves and the yoke which should be quick, and I'll have my spinning to distract me occasionally, oh - and the ear flaps.

Take care,

Sunday, November 25, 2007

more new stuff

so, yes I have been knitting, and have 1.95 finished objects to show for my time, and I have been spending (but only a little), I've been spinning, or trying to, i meet a new friend, one that I've known for years, and lastly I have discovered new items to stash. Firstly thank you for the positive comments on my ramble last week about what makes me a fussy knitter, I was thinking I had gone way off track - but given my blog is a knit journal of a sort, well the record of my thinking belonged here, thanks again for putting up with me.

First, my hand spun Poppy Brioche Hat! This hat is finished. It is a little on the short side, but there is plenty of yarn remaining - I could knit another. Poppy thinks it is great and wears it, despite warm early summer days. We visited an A&P show in the weekend (agricultural and pasteral), I'm told the US equivilent is a State Fair? At the show wee Pops wore pink board shorts, a hospital fund raiser tee shirt, leather boots and this - in a weird way she looked like a farming kid. Any way - what did I learn - always size hats on the person before you start to decrease for the crown, even if they go to bed at 7:30 pm and are children. Hats need to be much longer than you think. Brioche stitch in the round is easier to do knitting into the stitch below than yarn overs. I've got two videos to edit and upload for the next blog-post. Finally - all the knit bloggers who warn you to take care with Brioche - as it is hard to repair if you go wrong - they are right, so right. Still it is a night thick, bouncy, warm easily repeatable stitch, once you get into the swing of it.

And finally, spurned on by knit sibs VP and KK and others, I finally succumbed to the fetchings lure. Having some heavy silken luxurious Alpaca arrive didn't help at all. I wanted to use as much of the skein as I could - so reversed the pattern and knit these top down, and lengthened and widened them. I also knit on a slightly smaller needles - 3.75mm so added a pattern repeat, casting on 50 not 45 sts, and using 10 for the thumb gap, not 7. To widen - I knit 5 rounds in the rib past the cables, then increased in the purl stitches, making a rib of K4P2, knitting a further 10 rounds before casting off using a sewn bind off. This Alpaca was heavenly - silky and soft, soo soft. It was a gift from Idaho - and very artisan, the two alpacas that produced the fiber were named on the band - Magic and New Moon, originally from here. We are just moving into summer and with these I am already looking forward to Autumn.

And spinning, well I bought the wheel to spin fine yarns, and was hoping to eventually spin sock yarn. Spurred on my my hat yarn sucess, but a little disappointed at the thickness of the yarn, 14 wpi, I attempted finner singles. I spun two small bobbins as fine as I could then attempted to ply them. On the web there is so much beautiful yarn - I thought I would post some failed sample yarn. I was trying to use the different ratio drive whorls to control the amount of twist, not my hands. So the skein to the far left has way to much twist in the plying, as given away by the Z twist in the skein. I followed advice in my new spinning book - by Margrate Stove, to belt the skein in the middle and wash only one end to set the twist. Skein 2, 2nd from the left - to little twist in the plying, as indicated by the right or S swinging twist in the skein. Skein 3, 3rd from the left, about right, but not fantastic - I tried to use the ratios to add 1/3rd less twist during plying. Skein 4, on the right - about right - balanced twist, using the same whorl ratio as the singles, but feeding in 1/2 more yarn for each treadle. That was the method that gave me success with my first yarns.

And here is a close up of the best of the sample skeins, nice and fine, not as even as I want but I'm still a beginner (novice). What I realise now is that I should make a 3 ply sample, and introduce much more twist to the yarn, so I have started a new sample of singles, trying with the smallest whorl (16:1) and putting 2 treadles to a little over an inch, or around 3 cm. I did a quick search before work today (as you do) and it seems that sock yarn needs high twist, which I gleaned from here. The first yarns were at around 16 tpi (twists per inch), the next batch I am trying 32 tpi. Although I might just get a stiff scratchy yarn as suggested here. I'll will let you know.

and here is some lovely hand dyed yarn, Hopi colourway from Austin Texas, and no I didn't buy it, it was sent by Magpie in response to me sending her some of my own stash. We are both thinking this will be perfect for a something from CB's new pathways sock book.

And almost lastly - at the A&P show I finally met up with KathyR, from Knitters Review, which was nice. She was spinning beautiful yarn, in a tent, a very pleasant thing to do on a warm Saturday.

and lastly - some new stash, now I spin, I have a lot more stuff to fall for, the good news is that small amounts of fiber to play with are cheap, here is some alpaca, some merino blended with Possum, and a cone of merino possum nylon sock yarn. But I admit the cupboard and drawers are full.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Brother Amos is off the needles, and I get all philosophical about fussy knitting

I repeat I finished! Brother Amos is off the needles! Today the obligatory front porch photo with snooty concrete cat (never happy with any sock that cat!), and I'll compare the sytk and the sytk with a twist the row after, and the ssk, a bit of musing and explaining why I am so 'fussy', and I'll save the stash enhancement until next time!

Here is a closer look at the brimstone pattern on Brother Amos, I knit the womens size on 2.25mm but used the mens 'lace' pattern.

And here is a fairly quick and ready comparison of the sytk and the sytk+ (my nickname for twisting the resultant decrease stitch clockwise on the next row), and good old ssk. What do you think? First is the SYTK+, 2nd is the SYTK, last is good old SSK.

Not much in it is there? The SYTK+ might be a little teeny bit straighter, but not much difference at all, and these have not been blocked yet. Once the knit has done a few rounds with a wet wash - well you probably wouldn't even say any were different. What I should do is compare these in a swatch in a a high twist, smooth, stitch defining yarn. Plus in this sample, as I trialled the left leaning variations on the leg section, each one was worked in a different sized needle. Ok - I am a trained scientist, I can spot the flaws in this rough and ready pretest, but hey its knitting, as my friend JH says - 'no body dies'.

Just to compare - here is good old ssk done early in the sock, on the toe, which actually looks fine to, a little wobbly, but perfectly acceptable. Whats a knitter to do? any of them, but test first, results may vary by yarn and guage.

And KathyR, here is a little bit of a response to your observation that I notice the little things about my knitting, I wasn't always that way, and your comment got me thinking so - The theory post: A Theory of thinking knitters.

But before we start I am not an educational theorist, I have done some work on the edges of educational theory, but feel a complete newbie in that area, so forgive any mistakes please, and correct my gaps with good grace please?

The thinking knitter or perhaps the fussy knitter in me has only come recently, and perhaps is a result of my teaching, and learning. Once I as a fabric clothes maker, and I was happy if it fitted and looked like I expected. Then I taught that stuff. Once I was a teacher I had to think about about control and quality, and things like that. Before I was a teacher, working on my higher degree, the methodology requirements meant I had to think quite clearly and cleanly about what choices I made and why was it best. That critical thinking flowed naturally on to how to make better garments, some how this thinking has also spilled into my knit life
In teaching you do the same, especially in the 'arts' of pattern making and garment construction, where you are always encouraging students to spot little control things that lift the quality, or that can lessen the price whilst they keep the quality intact. I had to assess them, to do that I had to some how quantify what made 'this' better than 'that'. Not easy when the question is 2+2=4 you know it is right, when a collar is perfect but the pocket lumpy - how right is it as a whole?

This thinking and judging and balancing has also crept into my knitting and is also part of designing pieces for all knitters. By that I mean you have to choose, to use this decrease or that one, this increase or that one and in doing so you control the end result. I think that this in part comes with proficiency and time and thinking, and comfort with a variety of skills, but I know beginner knitters who are stressed when their decreases don't match, and experienced life time knitters who don't notice. Neither is wrong, I am just in the first camp, and I moved over from the second camp. I will let you work out where you are.

In my resent study I learned about the solo taxonomy, a theory of increasing sophistication in understanding that is used to explain steps/stages or leaps in student learning.
If we adopt the solo taxonomy, then you can see the knitters at different stages, and beyond that the different levels we are at in a range of things in our lives. Laundry - -I'm just processing, knitting - I'm thinking I'm up around the top, Tv watching - again processing, mostly but occassionally I make links.

The other theory I became aware of is the Communities of Practice, initially with assessment, but lately i see it all around me. Basically in any community, the theory supposes that experts teach tacit knowledge, that is things that are unspoken. If you have ever taught some one something, you will have discovered Tacit knowledge, the other day I watched Toby set the table, he carried the forks and spoons by the 'eating ends', I had to tell him we carry them by the handles so we don't touch the eating end with our hands. It is not polite, When I taught him to set the table, the arrangement and number of cutlery was taught, but I missed the tacit bit - where we know how to carry stuff. Tacit is all the little things you do and reccognise are 'wrong' or 'right' but wouldn't think to explain when teaching.

The initial work was on tailors in africa, which I like. The apprentices didn't learn maths separately in a isolated subject form, but in working with the master tailor learned all the maths skill they needed as they worked. They aced maths tests even though they had never had a 'maths lesson'. I see the on line knit community as a community of practice, we see those around us and become aware of things like sock knitting, and the popular socks, and we become aware also of little traditions or ways of working. The Frog pond, the frog for which this blog was named, arise totally out of the community of on line knitters, who blog about frogging and so I learned, not from any book, or specific place, that we aim for good knitting, and successful fitting, for good matches between pattern and yarn. I learned again from the community of knitters out there that it was not only ok but almost expected for Knitters not to tolerate mistakes in their work. I learned to frog. To do that I had to work out when to frog. The books only taught me how to frog. The Tacit knowledge I absorbed from the on-line community was WHEN to frog.

Once i became aware of the frogging aspect of knitting, I had to examine my work anew and work out when to frog. So recently a knitter on Ravelry left a comment about how she was loving the SYTK, and I had to ask what is a SYTK?, once I knew, it made me aware and then being me - I had to play and play now, in the middle of Brother Amos.

Of course this applies only to me, to my knitting, I admire all other knitters work, and am always impressed by any knitter who has made anything, the act of knitting takes planning and thinking and time, lots of time, so any knitted object deserves credit for all of that.

In the meantime if any one needs light entertainment, here are the photos of my students graduate show, although all 3 years of the degree get to participate. The 3rd years are my main teaching focus, so I'm proudest of them.

oh - down off soap box, but if any one wonders why I am a fussy knitter - you all out there in the interknit world made me one! And I had a little bit of an obsessive streak coming thru from my work.

next time- well, it will be after the weekend, and back to standard knitting photos, Grandad insists we visit Waimate, home of no internet at his house, but I promise to show some lovely stash enhancement a good friend supplied me with.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Right slanting decreases on trial

Today - Brother Amos, I've turned the heel, things are going so well I'm playing with different decreases, I'm swatching some of my own handspun. And finally a book report, that is a report on books that have come thru my letter box recently.

So I finally sat down and had some focussed quality time with Brother Amos, the sock and I are now on good terms, so much so the heel is turned, and I have only 2 lace repeats to finish the leg section and bind of in i-cord. Sadly I have had to forgo my lovely harmony wooden knit picks circs, and am now back to plain old Innox circs, as the leg is shaped by increasing a needle size every repeat. The Innox needles I'm using now do have a smoother join than the ones I started this sock on and gave up in dispear with, but the cord is twisty and stiff. I expect many of those who dislike circs for socks, and prefer dpns, were like me, struggling with low quality, stiff, lumpy circs, while our encouraging friends had smooth slippery circs with un-kinked cords. For lace socks, circulars do make things much easier. I will shout my self some new knitpics in the new year. Once you have tasted quality it is hard to go back to cheap and nasty.

Last post I told you all about introducing a sytk into this pattern, replacing the older style ssk. I also mentioned how at that stage I hadn't seen any real difference. Suzanne, messaged me to say that twisting the stitch resulting from the decrease in the next row might help, so I tried that. For the first leg repeat, I sytk'd all the left leaning decreases, and in the next row, knit thru the back to twist that decrease stitch and then K2tog the left ones. It resulted in this - the left leaning bit (the right leaning bit is next to a set of of m1's), a very nice line of straight stitches, with no twisting around. What I have not been able to find in a quick search is any 'hints' on line to twist the stitch backwards in the next row to straighten out a line of Right leaning decreases.

Then I realised I hadn't really given the new immigrant sytk an opportunity to show me what it could do on its own, so this repeat I am just sytk. I know one should test these things in a swatch, not in the second sock, but I'm impatient. Given these will be under jeans, under boots or hidden inside hi-top chucks, well, whatever I do in the leg will be just fine. So this is where I am up to, right now it looks twisty, but I will continue till the end of this repeat before deciding which method to use to finish the sock.

I've knit up some of my white 3 ply corridale homespun, seems really weird to be knitting yarn I made, surreal almost. And thankfully when I knit it up, the knitting was square, not trapezoid like the commercial Alapa swatch a few posts ago. You can't believe how happy that made me. After the Alpaca spiral incident - well that was a fear, what if I couldn't spin yarn that knit up nice? That was an even bigger fear than the "what if I don't want to knit what I spin?" fear. So this swatch, 12 wraps per inch, I knit up on 3.75mm needles and was fairly happy, but look =>

Rowing out, can you spot that rowing out in the first section of the swatch? It is more obvious on the wrong side. That hasn't happened in ages, I blame the thickness of the yarn. I know how much to compensate my purl and knit stitches for fine yarns when I knit flat, but obviously not for heavier yarns. I tried a few rows tightening the knit stitches, my standard fix - but it didn't work. So I switched to knitting combined, which fixed the problem but resulted in a much tighter gauge, so I knit on with larger 4.5mm needles. Then thinking I should swatch for something, I swatched Brioche stitch for a EZ style watch-hat for Poppy. I found some good on line instructions for bi-colour Brioche in the round, and for knitting different methods of Brioche. All my EZ books suggest Brioche is better worked flat, much arder to work in the round but the instructions i've found on line seem clear. I'm as yet unclear of the difference bewteen the 'knit into the stitch below' and the 'yarn over whist slipping stitches' and if they end up looking the same, the sound like they would be the same structurally.

And here, I've been following KathyR's advice to keep some of my unplied and unwashed spinning to use in guiding me towards better consistency. As part of that I clipped a little section of the yarn after plying but before washing, look it does puff up! I guess in time I will learn to 'see' how the yarn will be after setting in hot water not the yarn I have just spun.

And books, Well I have obtained a copy of Twined Knitting, a Swedish Folkcraft Technique, by Birgitta Dandanell-Ulla Danielsson, well 2 copies actually. An embarassing internet hic-up - which I am sure happens more often than we like to admit. What I don't like is that one copy is a de-stashed copy from the Oshkosh public library. Legally I might add, but I now know that knitters in Oshkosh can not access that copy because the library decided it was 'old' and out of date, and sold it off to make room for newer and probably non knitting books. I spoke to a librarian friend here, an she knows of this library phenomenon, and regularly takes out all the old knitting books from our local public library so they have a record of use, I think I will join her in this. I also ordered Sheila McGregors Traditional Scandinavian Knitting, because when you buy from Amazon they helpfully say "people who bought that book also liked this one", and some times they are just so good at guessing what I want that I give in. All of these were second hand. And, yes embarrassingly there is more, I sometimes think this blog should be renamed, "knit-shop-frog' because I seem to spend as much time posting about knitting as about shopping for knitting related items. So there are one more book still to come, both from Fishpond (new zealands version of amazon - with much cheaper shipping for me), Mary Thomas's book of knitting patterns, This book is vinatge, circ 1947> I stumbled onto an online discussion of 'good' knitting books on Ravelry's Knittech where knitters were raving about Mary Thomas Knitting, which I have, I have both her Embroidery and the knitting book by Mary Thomas, a legacy of a crafty MIL. I suggested that there were much better books than MT knitting, only to discover they were singing praises of MT Knitting patterns book, so off I went to obtain one. Then Vintage Purls (local knitter) brought one to knit night to show me, and so now my own copy is winging it way to me.

Take care

Thursday, November 15, 2007

So with Fannigan gone - what am I knitting now?

Today - how the Brother Amos sock is an attention seeking sock and was this close(holds thumb and first finger very close together) to a session in the time out section of my knitting basket, plus I try a new technique, some mistakes I found after I finished Fannigan, the Andean hat grows despite using 2mm needles, and next week new/old books.

Brother Amos, I still like these socks, but with putting them on hold to finish Fannigan - well I lost my way, and I got mesmerized by these, which I want to cast on for NOW. But then Bro Amos will never be finished. Brother Amos knows this, and to frustrate me further (- can socks do this? appliances can), has misbehaved 3 or more times during the last pattern repeat. Of course knitting Bro Amos when out and about and not taking the chart was courting disaster, twice, and not counting stitches carefully when I frogged and put them back on the needles was also asking for trouble. Now I have tamed that sock, I knit quietly, at home, uninterrupted, with the chart at my side and I will finish this sock soon.
The close up here of Brother Amos is of the decreases, about four rows back I switched from a standard ssk to the more modern sytk. Now this is is claimed to be a better or closer pair for a k2tog, what do you think? I must admit to not seeing as much difference between the earlier ssk's and the more recent sytk's as I expected. I will keep knitting using sytk, and compare the entire sock leg when finished.

and I am still using the 2-circ method, its good, every now and again I knit them all up onto one circ with a twist in the middle, but with good smooth circs the method is perfect for patterned socks. No having to work repeats split by dpns. So a big thank you to Suzanne aka lace lunatic aka Magpie for enabling me to knit this way, and encouraging me to try.

And Fannigan, well I hinted in an earlier post there were at least 2 mistakes that I was not frogging for, this is them: first on a row that should have had a knit dot every 4th stitch, I confused myself and k3 red where there should be 1 red. Well its small, and not really noticeable and public now. The other mistake, well a small hole in the sleeve, where I wove in the ends the 'wrong way. That is I wove them in in a way that they pulled the join spot open, rather than snugged it closed. Oh well - that one is fixable, some time, maybe ...

Andean hat : it grows, faster than Kelly's, who mailed me and asked if it should be 2mm not US2's, as she had cast on apparently for a sweater not a hat. I didn't know how not to laugh, 54 puntas is a lot of work to rip back. Kelly was a good sort about it, just one of those communication things, but I'd have to say neither of us did gauge swatches so we probably deserve any size mishaps we get. I've lent her my extra 2mm circs, as a token of my guilt. At knit night, we did try and talk Kelly into continuing and then felting/fulling the hat, and making it a bag - but she frogged, she said no hat would beat her. My own Andean hat grows, I'm up to chart A, which seems to be forming well, the first 4 or 5 lines looked messy but then the direction of the pattern came together.

and the inside, some of the floats are over 10 or so stitches, but the gauge is so small I just left them floating. With white being a main colour I was reluctant to weave and risk show thru. I'm sure they will felt in just a little,

and I just have to say, that new sock knitter I enabled, a graduating student, well I get exited phone texts when she turns the heel, more txts saying she might have to open a sock business, and then more inquiries about narrowing the foot. I think she is hooked, don't you? Kathleen - you know who you are, I enabled even further now with a graduation prezzie of ashford dpns.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Well that was interesting!

I'm back, and unfortunately plowing thru a pile of ironing, a combination of my fiber snobbery (cellulose fabrics feel so good to wear but they crease), and Bear and Grand-dad spending the weekend hedge cutting - not keeping up with the domestic chores. Still, I'm not complaining. Today I've got a workshop report (made me think), a shopping report (inevitable), and a new project starts and finishes. I have made some minor progress on the Andean hat, but it is a photo rich post, so more about that next time, and nothing to report on my Bro Amos socks. Plus a great bit thank you to all of you who said nice things about Fannigan, I'm 'chuffed' (is that a unique NZ word, do you all understand it?) that you took time to stop and admire and let me know. Now - what can I do with those lighter clasps that are now spare?

So - workshop, Knit to fit with Barbara Paley (scroll down). Two other knitters and I headed of late Friday, to a weekend of knitterly girly things, we had a historic beautiful cottage booked in Clyde, and the weather could not have been better. I do recommend this workshop if you ever get the chance. The workshop was held at Touch Yarns, a wondrous place. Since discovering EZ and the magic of EPS, I have knit the round and seamless shaped sweaters but Barbara took us thru the basics of recognizing what a straight arm scye and fitted shoulder line could do for a less than ideal body and suggested that there were some significant fitting benefits of knitting a sweater in sections. Now I teach pattern-making and we use standard measurement charts, the very ones that result in all those poorly fitted garments you all buy, but Barbara pointed out for many people a custom fitted sweater can provide a much better look than standard measurements. Barbara, was lovely, and managed to communicate clearly the intricacies of drawing sweater sections, then making patterns to fit ourselves, including sleeves to a group of 'novice' pattern makers very well. Here you can see some of my workings, complete with sleeve diagram.

So - can I give up knitting sweaters in the round? I'm not sure, Barbara felt the resistance at 'our end of the table', Lorna, Pam and I want to knit in the round, and on day two Barbara had us practice seaming, short rowing and decorative deceasing. I think she thought we knit in the round to avoid seams, but hey - we like the concept of shaping all in one. Here you can see my mattress stitch sampler - sewn in red yarn, but apart from the seam 'bump' really truly invisible on the right side (also shown). I've mattress stitched before - but it was nice to practice under an experts eye. And a matching 'top of shoulder' seam sample as well. Can you spot my little mistake, I'm so used to slipping the first stitch to make a neat chain edge I found it really hard to knit the first and last stitch - so some times I got a little confused about that. To answer my own question - will I knit in the round, yes probably, but will work set in sleeves or strap shoulders rather than raglans perhaps?

I did have one other problem, I knit my gauge and seam swatches for the workshop in my Alpaca, Eki Riva and it spirals, I'm not sure if you can spot it in my samples - but there is some definite left leaning going on there. Bother, I have a sweater lot of this stuff, and it was not cheap. According to a very good source - the spirality means I have to knit in a texture with equally balanced knits and purls, to correct for it. Double bother, I had been planning a little cardigan with a lace leaf lower boarder, and stst all over. Well that was before Barbaras workshop and now I realise that those kind of details need to be up around my face, not around my wider bits. Any way - you can see the lean much clearer here. I've clearly got some thinking to do on this one, before i cast on.

Now with the workshop being held at Touch yarns, the temptation was to much, two 9am-4pm day classes surrounded by soft beautifully naturally and hand dyed coloured yarns. I gave in, quite simply and straight forwardly, there was no reason or point in fighting any more. If I drove home - well I knew I'd be back within weeks to buy anyway. So what did I buy? Well, since you asked, from left to right:
  • 3 skeins of worsted weight Possum merino, super soft - enough for a little cardigan for me, or more probably a little sweater for Toby. That boy has a real soft spot for super soft things, and why not indulge him?
  • 800g of super fine pale green merino, for moi, sport weight
  • 100g of sock weight super fine (21 micron!)merino, for socks, for moi, or poppy, who really knows with stash.

I confess my stash enhancement started even earlier, on the way to Clyde, on Friday, we passed thru Lawrence, where a weaver known to my travel buddies, has a shop studio. We stopped and talked, and in her oddments basket I found 2 balls of Patons Super Chenille, for a rock bottom price. I've been looking for some since seeing Chenille wash cloths in Tara Jon Mannings Mindful Knitting. One of which is already a wash cloth, garter stitch, 4mm needles, 40 sts, cast off earlier today, it was a good car knitting project. I'm still to knit up the green. This was to be a baby gift, a super soft chenille wash cloth amongst some luxury baby and mom items, but Poppy discovered how soft it was, and it has gone to bed with her as a snuggly! Toby will want the other one when it is knit.

And spinning, well - great news, I've organised a beginner spinner workshop for 5 friends and I in Feb 2008. The workshop is to be taught by Betty Kelly, and you can see the caliber of her work here by being included in an Interweave Press Project. Betty is held in high esteem throughout Otago and further afield, and is charging only a nominal fee. I almost can't wait.

And the visiting knitter, Emily was great, very easy to be with, we had two nights of knitting, I let her play on my new wheel (see I am a nice person!) and I took her to knit night to meet the others, but she has gone now to greater NZ. Good luck with the travels Em, safe trip home!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Finished !

So we can just let the photos speak for the first little bit, ta-da!

And Fannigan, yes I am happy, really happy, a great fit, perfectly warm, the sleeves just over-long enough, the fit just snug enough, the length just right, and very lightweight. I popped into Knitworld to show them today (where I bought the yarn) and they said it looked so even it could have been machine knit, I didn't know if I should be amused or offended. It was cause they don't see much knitting in the round, and mostly work flat, I told myself.

so today, I am showing of Fannigan, we have a visitor coming, a spin report and I'm off on a knitting weekend.

ta-da! again - now I am just showing off! Yes the lighter of the two clasps was nice, but the heavier ones just seemed a better match. I'm sold on the idea of clasps and will be using these as a closure again and again. A very clever solution for knitwear - why have we been knitting button holes, with all the associated to tight, to loose, to whatever, here in our English based nations, when those clever Europeans had little perfect solutions like pewter clasps hundreds of years ago?
I started with one clasp at the neck, and it looked good, like jewelery, but with a little wear the front pulled open, so I added the second, and then decided the third was needed just to snug it in under my bust. I'm aiming for traditional but not frumpy, let me know if I'm off please. And look the steeked neckline worked! A little kink where the raglan intersects, but looks fine to me. There is a flaw - which I might show you next time, and no I am not frogging!

And this is the wet-blocking, look at the colour of the water, gosh that red ran! I rinsed 4 times and the water was still ever so slightly pink. Note to self, wash on its own until that stops.

So not much else to show, Emily is coming to town (well she is in town as we speak but we won't meet up until tomorrow), and she is coming home for dinner (the evening meal), and out to meet the Thursday night knitters. Tania asked me to step in and take over hospitality duties, while she is away, lets see, meet visiting knitter, take knitter to knit night, eat good food with knitter, discuss knitty things, perhaps wine or something - whats not to say yes to?

I plied up two bobbins of the singles, and now have two seemingly balanced skeins of 172 and 105 meters each. To work that out I just counted the number of wraps on the 1.5m ninny noddy, and times'd by 1.5. I had three full bobbins of singles, but one bobbin ran out earlier than the other two - I guess the trick to spinning is consistency and that means I wasn't consistent. They sure looked like they had the same amount.

And this weekend, please excuse me I won't be posting again until mid next week. Three of the Spinners and Weavers knitter study group (never just flows of the tongue that one no matter how I write it), and I are off to a designing knit wear weekend, with Barbara Paley (stitch'n' pitch lady? can any one confirm that?). Some one asked why, when I teach pattern-making and construction on a fashion degree, well .... its a weekend away, its knitting, it isn't expensive, I like my traveling companions, I like knitting, and you always learn some thing. Always - even if it just something small. So I am off to do my home work - knit a gauge swatch to take with me. I'm thinking that baby alpaca I added to stash some time ago? We also have to take a sweater that fits and one that 'could fit better', what a nice way to put it. I'm taking Fannigan, just to show off! the one that could fit better, thats harder, I don't keep those, I frog them.

Can you tell I'm happy with it? Cause I am.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

a little bit of a ta da!

just quietly, the beginings of a ta da, because (drum roll please?), I'm in the process of casting off on Fannigan! Yes, I'm this close (holds hands about 1.2 m apart (not that I have gorilla length arms - but thats because thats how long the cast of edge is) to finishing. So today is a lot of detail about that, and a spinning update. Andean Knitting is on hold, thanks for so many nice comments! I'm doubly flattered, I didn't design it, but I did dye the colours and put them together. I needed Andean's needles to finish Fannigan.

See? That little 1 cm section that is not attached to the needles because it has been cast off?
The beginings of the end! The longer 2mm needles I ordered have arrived, all 1m each of them, meaning I was able to continue with picking up stitches for the facings to cover the steeks. I still needed all the 2mm circs I had in house, all 4 to complete the double side facings. Fannigans facing measure 134 cm or 52.5". Double sided facings mean a whole-lot-a 2mm circular needle is required.

So the Andean knitting (also on 2mm circs) was temporarily housed on some soare dpns and put aside. I did make use of the little hooked needles from Lacis, and they were effective, very effective. I'm using exactly the same edging as I used to finish the baby blanket.

Here is the facing side, it all worked out pretty neatly, and isn't to bulky. I picked up on 2mm needles, Fannigan was knit on 2.5mm. After I knit the two sides together to sandwich the cut steek edge, I decreased 10%, just to make sure the edge didn't flare. I'm not exactly sure where the 10% came from, a little bit Zimmernesque, although she suggested that for hem facings not cardigan edges.

I just need to cast of, oh, several hundred stitches, using an i-cord bind off, block, and sew on the fastenings, I ordered two, smallish clasps, both pewter, and am thinking the smaller yet heavier of the two - what do you think?

So here is the big picture, almost ready to wear.

Spinning, a few days ago, I took some time out and stopped spinning the singles, and decided to test my theory that I'd get a more even yarn if I made it 3 ply. The lower 4 yarns are 2 ply tester, and the top 3 are 3 ply. Unfortunately I used totally different levels of twist in each one so its not really a fair comparison. The three ply is much more even, but I put far to much twist in the 3ply tester, way to much twist. This week I've been posting a few 'how to' questions on KR, first about how to best use the bobin and flyer whorls on the Ashford traveler as a double drive, and 2nd about using different ratios to introduce lower twist when plying. As you can see, some lovely spinners took time out to answer my beginner questions in a fair amount of detail, and KathyR also left a nice comment about how even my yarn looks. I've printed out the KR answers and added them to the back of the Ashford book, and Noramcd left me this link. And from that I found this, I love the yarns she spins, so aim to follow in Abby's footsteps, one day, not today.

So encouraged by the feedback, and advice, I spun on, and produced this more thought through tester, 10m of 3 ply, same feeding rate, same treading rate (as much as you can remember those things), and the larger bobbin/smaller flyer whorl. When I released the skein, at first it twisted and I was sure I had got something wrong, but as soon as it hit the warm water, it relaxed (don't we all?) and went all smooth and limp - just like a good yarn should. I am to ply the 3 bobbins of singles this coming week. btw - this tester came in at 14wpi - a little bulky for sock yarn, but pretty good for a newbie!

And next weekend, I'm off to a knitting weekend, so hope to post mid week, but will miss next weekends. I'll tell you more about that next post.