Sunday, December 30, 2007

last post 2007, progress and FO report

its the end of the year, or more rightly put, the end of another year. So ... I finally have some progress to show on the garter ribbed cardigan, and my not Merino socks still grow slowly. To round things off for the year- I've added a list of 2007 FO's to end this post, I can't believe I finished knitting 25 projects! Some were small, and one was a rework of a dud project, but 25! This year - I blogged a lot more (108) than the previous year(24), and finally I felt ready to give back to the internet-knit community, both in tutorials and in give aways. I have made several knit-friends, local and internationally, and those friendships all have a special place in my life, thank you. So back to regular post content ...

Look a sleeve, this one went relatively quickly, about 3-4 days, I put off casting on a larger cuff for a while, then just did it. I want this jersey out of the way, so I can start something exiting and new in nice yarn. Only one more sleeve and the yoke/collar to go. This one is knit in naturally coloured yarn from Clifton wool'n'things, and it is washes up beautifully soft. Being naturally coloured it has an inherent heather texture to the brown colouring, with grey marled, speckled and freckled. But - its sticky and drags thru my fingers. Perhaps I should wash a skein some time to see if it makes it nicer to work with. I'm wary of starting to wash the skeins to knit into this jersey - what if the gauge changes, and I have to start over?

The rejected sleeve, the one that was so firmly fitted, well I didn't frog it, I meshed together the open end with a crochet closure, and knit two I-cord straps, and now Curley Bear has a back pack. Small things - small minds, not sure if that refers to my daughters delight at the new toy for her toy, or me and my penchant for using up duds in such a way. Still there is a kind of pleasure in being able to make children happy with small gifts like this.

And 'not' Merino Lace socks, I have well and truly turned the heel on both socks, and decreased all but one stitch of the gusset away. One more decrease round - and then continue straight on to the toe. This sock has the chevron lace continue right down the heel section, which makes for a stretchy fit sock. It is a nice look, a heel matching rather than slip stitch, but I've only knit one other like that - so I'm unsure how this form of heel lasts in comparison to a slip stitch one.

So 2007 - what did I accomplish?
Well I learned to spin, or rather I began the long and fun process of learning to spin, first on a spindle and then on a wheel. I also started dying yarn using food colours. I went to a lace weekend workshop - and while I don't knit lots of lace (yet) I'm working up my lace skills on small things like Pomatomus and Merino lace socks. I acquired a table loom, and thought I would like weaving - but I didn't. Knitting wise - my 25 finished projects for the year were in order of being knitted,
  1. Lost Kanga jersey for Toby (this was lost by March never to be seen again)
  2. Pink Merino Sweater for Curley Bear, i-pod cover, and a felted bowl
  3. Socks - Widdershins for me (and a dolls blanket for the dolls house)
  4. Wash cloth - yellow and blue
  5. Wash cloth - black and white
  6. Socks - Widdershins for Poppy
  7. Toby's hat, to match the Lost Kanga Jersey
  8. Widdershins for Bear
  9. Mittens for Poppy using food dyed yarn
  10. Mohair lined mittens for Toby using food dyed yarn
  11. BSJ (Baby Surprise Jacket) for my friends 3rd Baby (she called him Toby!)
  12. Fannigan, a silk merino colour work steeked cardigan for me
  13. Socks ribbed Regia for Toby
  14. Blanket - Fair Isle Baby , for my friends 3rd Baby (special baby - 2 things)
  15. Socks Pomatomus for me, in Tekking pro Natura with 25% Bamboo fiber
  16. Fiber Trends Felted Clogs for me, I knit these then food colour dyed them
  17. Socks Hedge row for me
  18. Wash cloth Green
  19. Crochet hats for both Poppy and Curley bear
  20. Socks Brother Amos for me
  21. Gansey for Curley Bear (knitter study group project)
  22. Hand spun brioche ribbed hat for Poppy (I spun the yarn for this !)
  23. Ccatta Andean hat with ear flaps (another knitter study group project and I dyed the yarn for this!)
  24. I re-worked the lower edge of my cabled zippie cardigan, shorter
  25. Curley's back pack - in this post
Wips - things remaining to finish
  1. 50% of a cardigan for Bear, body and one sleeve.
  2. by the end of 2007 I have sewed 91 fish into the fish afghan blanket - still a WIP.
So - 2008, I'm not one to make resolutions, life is pretty good, so no real need for major change. This next year we will refurbish the aged kitchen, laundry, electric and water system in our house. I will need the relaxation of knitting to get thru that, and I will spin more, There are some important people around me who have some trials to get thru, I want to knit special things for them- take care of them in a kind way, so some socks or scarves for others in 2008. I will finished the garter ribbed cardigan before I start any major new project.

May the new year bring only good things,

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Two at a time and yes more DIY,

Today - look at me I'm turning two heels at once, my merino 3 ply worked, I knit part of the garter ribbed cardigans sleeve only to find it is to small and needs up sizing, and I've made my own dpns! Christmas was good, we caught up with lots of distant relatives by phone, the Welly(wellington) ones have sold their house (good news), the Auckland ones tell me my Nana is frail and going to be 94 soon, all agree she has had a good innings. She is fairly confused, and thinks I am my mum, and my sister is my daughter, and my aunt is - -oh far to hard to explain. We love her, and she is very old. My dad had a great day with my brothers 'in-laws' family. We didn't over eat and we had a tv free day by negotiation - and it worked great. We had hot sunny weather, and the small bears rode around and around and around and around for much of the morning on their bikes, then it rained. I goofed the Big Bears present ... the scrumpled bag of coffee beans I thought was in the hopper of the coffee bean grinder, well, that turned out to be a rather too realistic photo of a scrumpled bag of coffee beans, and me - I got 6 (count em - 6) bars of luxury dark chocolate - yes mummy was very happy. I am a simple bear at heart.

First the socks, the not Merino Lace socks by Anne Woodbury (from Interweave - 25 favorite socks), I've started the heel and all goes well. There was a small hicup where you are to move the first 3 stitches on needle one to needle two so isolating the 30 stitches on which to work the heel flap. Moving the 3 stitches from the front to the back needle on the first sock was easy. To move the same 3 stitches on the second sock required removing the first sock from both circulars, and putting it to one side while the 3 stitches were transfered from front to back needle, then replacing the first sock onto both circulars. I chickened out, I put the 3 stitches on a paper clip, and kept going, it works. I guess I could have slid it from one circular to the other - but hey, my brain was tired.

I've been reading Anne Feild's beyond basic spinning book, it is full of exciting exercises to develop working spinning knowledge. I've just read them, not yet done the practices, but I did glean this little tip, to use embroidery skein holders to make little records of singles, plied yarns and washed plied yarns. The bonus is the embroidery cards are really really cheap, and are pre cut with notches one inch wide. Extra bonus - was I already had them in the embroidery drawer from an earlier life. Perfect for counting wraps. The last few days I have been finishing spinning the singles, and plying the merino. I got 41 wpi on the singles, 21 wpi on the 3 ply, and 20 wpi on the washed 3 ply. The hardest thing is to let them all rest for a day after each step, for them to settle and not be so springy. I guess over time, if I keep records - well I will be a thinking spinner and will learn something. I now have one skein 318m long, 20 wpi, white 22 micron merino. 318m of this yarn is apparently all that will fit on my bobbin when I ply. I want to spin a little more the same and then dye it - perhaps blue, rust, purple ... ?

Bears garter ribbed cardigan. Two items of note to report. First the sleeve, I cast on and knit this much Christmas eve. I increased evenly around the sleeve. Several sweaters ago I wondered why sleeve increases were placed at the under-arm seam, especially when knitting in the round. Arms don't get wider there, well mine don't. I decided on Poppy's pink-mint merino to increase evenly around the sleeve and liked the shaping I got. I've done that to most sweaters since - except Fannigan. I had Bear try the sleeve on and ..... ummmm, ... well he informs me that men don't usually wear their sweater sleeves so fitted. Translated that means, pleases can I re-knit the sleeve looser. I reworked the math, and realized that I am sizing this cardigan based on measurements of a purchased sweater he likes not according to EPS. I've put the sleeve aside, and probably won't frog this one, I have so much of this yarn, I will just cast on anew with more stitches, and trust EPS.

I also discovered that I had knit the body 'wrong', the garter ribbed cardigan which the sweater is based on should be in a K3p1 rib, and I have worked a K2p1 rib. Bother - but it stays as is. Besides - K2P1 fits in with the k2p1 rib at the cuff and hem better, no sudden jarring mismatch as the rib pattern changes.

The second thing I discovered when knitting the sleeves for the garter ribbed cardigan, is how much I have grown unaccustomed to metal dpns. Once I loved them, I have an entire set lovingly stored in my knitting storage. What I didn't have was wood or bamboo dpns in size 5mm, my set went up to 4.5mm.

Now I like wood, it is warm, light and comfortable. Metal is not. Wooden dpns are hard to get in Dunedin, the lys stocks a few in sock sizes, and I can order them on-line from 'up north' or over seas, but that takes time. Knowing this I attempted knitting heroics - I made my own dpns. For $2.78 at the local hardware store I found 1.8 meters of 6 mm dowel. I cut this into lengths and sanded it until it fitted the 5mm space on my needle sizer. I then pencil sharpened the tips and sanded more until I made a nice pointy knitting needle shape. You can see they are a little blunter than the metal Inox dpn. It was not plain sailing. First I attempted to sand a section of dowel 80 cm long, but it snapped. So I cut it into needle sized lengths. I also discovered 6mm dowel, was larger than 6mm - more like 7mm - do you think wood workers notice that? They did have 4mm down which I didn't buy, maybe I should have? Next time I would take my needle sizer with me. What do I mean next time? I'm not sure there will be a next time.
Take care

Friday, December 21, 2007

a little more progress all round

Despite being off work last week - I didn't get as much fiber time as I planned, still today there is an update on the not Merino Lace Socks, the garter ribbed cardigan finally reaches a milestone, some spinning and plying success, a new book, and goodies. I have done all the Christmas shopping and have only to wrap it all up. Smallest bear is getting a purple bike, with a teddy seat, a pink sparkle helmet* and lots of purple streamers from the handle bars (as per repeated requests), slightly larger bear is getting a guitar, and a sewing machine (no gendered assumptions around here - he is a boy), largest Bear is getting a set of powered speakers for his i-pod, and a coffee grinder - both of which I can share!

First - the 'not' Merino Lace Socks by Anne Woodbury, from Interweave 25 Favorite Socks. Why the 'not'? Because I'm not knitting them in merino but a generic budget sock yarn from my LYS (St Ives - sorry the link is to the UK - the only info I could find on St Ives). The socks are growing slowly. It is a nice lace to work. I frogged back half a lace repeat this morning, some how last night I had ended up with the 'front' of the socks 2 rows ahead of the back pattern-wise. How that could happen I can't imagine, and there was not even wine involved. I was tired, weary to the point of putting the knitting aside and just sitting. Still back on track - one and a half repeats to go and then the heel flap.

And this is my latest spinning, the white, I've been working with merino, trying to spin fine singles that would 3 ply into a sock yarn. I have 2 half full bobbins,and yesterday spun a little more onto a 3rd bobbin - just so I could test the results. I wanted to see if the yarn would be fine enough to use for socks as a 3 ply and look - it is! My white merino 3 ply is next to the St Ives 4 ply sock yarn. Success - it is a nice feeling after a failure.
My new spinning book arrived this morning - just in time to sort how much twist to put in a 3 ply yarn. My first sample was over plied, by the second hangs nice and balanced. Because the last yarn/string I made was so over twisted I was careful to limit the twist I added this time, perhaps to careful? I think I could have add a little more twist to make this more of a match for commercial sock yarns. My plan for this 3 ply merino is to dye it and knit a scarf or something lacy, Although Brenda Daynes latest pod cast has me admiring her Milano stitch and thinking that could be used soon in some as yet unidentified project. Anne Fields beyond the basics spinning book tells me to keep good records, and I should, it also suggests using little embroidery skein cards to record wrap samples of singles, plied and washed-plied yarns. I really should start a spinning notebook, I really should. I should, I should, I should - why haven't I? I feel like I'm still a beginner and I'm not ready to settle, but if I was my own student, I wouldn't let me away with such lax-ness.

The garter ribbed cardigan, well finally I am up to the arm-scye, so ready to put the body aside and cast on for the sleeves. That means I have to fossick around and locate my previous knit journal for info on needle size and number of cuff stitches to cast on. This project has been in progress for so long that I have long ago used up all the pages in the notebook it was planned in, and started a new one.

And look - My kids and I were totally spoilt last Thursday at night night. Jenny has made fudge and packaged it up so sweetly for my two wee bears, and gifted me this beautiful roving. The photo does not do it justice, it is caramel, and blond, and ash, white/grey and cream - truly spectacular. I know Jenny is a fan of Navaho plying to keep the colour runs intact in her spinning - so I might have to be Jenny's new best friend to learn how to do that for myself.

take care
happy christmas - hope it brings some fiber time to you all.

* In New Zealand it is illegal to ride a push bike on the roads without a helmet, so most kids wear one even when biking on footpaths, school grounds, play grounds or at home. Oddly it is legal to ride a skate board in traffic with no brakes, no reflectors, and no helmet! When I was a post-grad, a fellow student did her masters on cycle helmets, it was just post the legislation being enacted. My favorite quote in her masters was from the head of the Injury Prevention Unit was something like "sure helmets are inconvenient, hot, uncomfortable and leave you with really bad hair, but its much more inconvenient thinking after your brain has been mushed on the pavement".

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Home made things

well .... the knitting is always home made, but today I've got some other knitting related home made goodies. First up progress report on the 'not' merino lace socks, then my home-made sock blockers, and wrap counters, whats on the bobbin on the spinning wheel, I've added a widget to the side bar, and a little Christmas sparkle.

The Not Merino Lace Socks, so called because I am using St Ives Wool not merino yarn, are growing. So sloooowly, very slowly, but growing. The longer the sock gets the easier the two socks/two circular needles is. Next time, I will cast on and knit the rib cuff section of each sock before I move them over to the two circs, I think there would be less stress that way. It is nice to see both socks emerge from the needles - which brings me to ....

... . my home made sock blockers. I've been wondering about sock blockers for a while now. The local shops don't sell them. They do sell dpns and budget sock yarn, around 3 different types, St Ives, Patonyle, and Opal (nothing exotic or luxurious) and a supply a free photocopied short row heel, stocking stitch pattern if you buy the Opal. What they don't sell is pattern books for socks, especially lace socks, and I have never ever seen a sock blocker in the 'hard copy' so to speak. Now I'm knitting my third lace type sock, I began to think even more about sock blockers, and wondered if I should order some. Trouble with ordering things from overseas is two fold, first the wait, when I decide I want thing, I want it now, and second is the shipping costs. International postage takes a while at the best of times and is expensive. I've come across the cheap and easy sock bockers from wire coat hangers and then a few days ago found sock blockers made from laminated place mats. This made me think about what materials I had available, the sock blockers had to be stiff, light, and waterproof, and ideally easy to cut and shape. I remembered a material that is used by our students - corflute, best described as a plastic version of corrugated cardboard, it is much used for advertising display, like house for sale signs. Corflute cuts easily with a craft knife and you can mark the cutting lines with pencil or pen. We had some slightly dirty corflute left over from our student show, so I've had a bit of a play and voila! Water proof, light-weight, Sock-blockers. I printed an image of sock blockers snaffled from the net and scaled it to size. Around the foot measures 8" on the blocker and 9" on me, allowing for a little stretch. I do have more corflute left over, so thought I would trace a pair of blockers on each piece, and make 'DIY sock blocker kits' available at this weeks knit night. Kathy - I'm happy to drop one off to you next time we are in Waimate - just let me know :-)

And still on home made items; these are wrap counters. Several knitting books and patterns describe yarn in terms of wraps per inch,and one of my favourite, Pricilla Gison Roberts, provides not only a table to calculate yarn requirements but also instructions on how to make these. Interweave also uses wraps per inch, as does Ann Budds Yarn guide booklet. Simply you wind the yarn around the stick, with each wrap touching the previous one, and count the wraps per inch, then times that count by 100 to estimate the number of meters required for a 'plain vanilla sweater'. The printed tables go into a little more detail about adjusting the estimate for cables, colour works, men and children's sizes, and also for hats, gloves, socks ect... Here is a handy on line version if you don't have one of those books. Here is a guide to using the wpi tools. I made one a few weeks back, and then ended up making a few more - just to perfect the technique. So now I have quite a few. I'll add them to the knit night help yourself take home basket.

Spinning - I'm still spinning the white merino as fine as I can. I broke off about a meter of roving, and spun one bobbin half full, then broke off a 2nd meter - which is being spun onto the second bobbin. Then I will spin a little more onto a third bobbin and play with making 3 ply yarn. If the final yarn turns out thicker than I want, I will just continue and make the merino up as 2 ply. I'm just practicing with this, and have no real plans for knitting into any thing in particular. I was spoilt at the last knit night - did I tell you two spinners there gave me little packets of fiber to play with, some grey superwash merino, and some black alpaca. It was like an early Christmas!

Widgets, I love that word, widget, widget, widget. Reminds me of my grandparents saying about a wigwam-for-a-gooses-bridle. I never really understood that saying. So what is a widget? Well ... as far as I understand its a little bit of code that does something graphic. I was entering my books into Librarything, and I found they will make you a widget to show books in the side bar of a blog. I'm a really book person, I love my knitting books, and am slightly surprised I have 45 knitting books (I just listed the knitting ones, and one is embroidery). Anyway - the widget displays a random selection of my knitting books. Five of these have not arrived yet - so I am a little premature entering them (counting books before they are delivered, is that like counting chickens before they are hatched?). And yes - I do have 2 copies of Twinned knitting - so if any one wants to make an offer for a swop - we can discuss that further.

- And yes - we put up the tree and decorated it, a tad odd given we are heading into summer, when Christmas was designed for dark cold winter time. But the tree is up, and small children are opening the windows on the advent calenders, and eating the chocolate. Bear has terrible hay-fever, so we are limited to an artificial tree, this year I have been admiring these(Thanks suzanne for showing me), and these, but probably won't get around to making either of them. Christmas shopping is pretty much taken care of, I'm part of a KR post-christmas-swop - so I have been having some fun filling a little box with knitterly goodies to send away after christmas.

Take care -

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Two new socks get a start on the needles

Well yes, two socks but only one pair, but this time I am knitting two at once. First up some correspondence, then there is an update on the Garter ribbed cardigan, and I'm swatching. I'm still spinning a little more merino - but my replacement Merino Alpaca arrived - and it is as nice as last time. Lets hope I don't ruin it again this time.

Thank-you for all the nice comments - KathyR, thank you I have followed up the auction link, and hope to score the advanced spinning book by lunchtime Monday. Sarah - great suggestion, the Scroll socks are now on my hit list. The repeat looks similar in structure to Pomatomus which was really fun to knit. Choosing a new sock is so hard - there are so many on my 'next' list, and at least another dozen on my 'after that' list. Knitting Linguist - I dithered at the end between Embossed leaves and Merino Lace - in the end it was Merino Lace - but only because I thought that the lace would be less challenging if I was out and about knitting.

Knitting two socks at once, or Merino Lace socks from Interweaves favorite sock book, but not merino yarn. The yarn is St Ives in soft grey, from the Local Knit World, but originates in Brittan.

So - two socks at once, on 2 circs, a new method for me. I have to admit it took 2 nights to cast on and get started - just having the two cast ons split between the two needles in the same/right direction was a spatial challenge in its self. The first few cm's were rough, the little tubes keep flipping inside out and its hard to work out where you are going and where you have been. Still I'm past the rib section, which is really a mix of narrow lace and wide ribbing, and just starting the leg section. Knitting two at once, is fine, but progress seems slow, predictably as it is split between the two socks, they grow half as fast as expected. A very nice pattern so far, the different lace gets added in stages, so you can work out the rhythm of each before adding a new one. I do like the lace when it is opened out, and might have to make some sock blockers for this pair to do them justice.

Swatching - some teal 4 ply or fingering, from the Milton Woolen Mill. Not quite sure where I am going with this, but I do want some more little slim cardigans, and this is a great weight and colour. I have tentative plans to knit something with set in sleeves, following up on the knit to fit workshop with Barbara Paley a few weeks ago. So far I have just knit a swatch in different needle sizes, and played with some linen stitch variations. I do have some of this yarn in white - so a colour work band could be a possibility. Honestly - my head is not there right now, so it was just playing with the yarn more than swatching with a purpose.

And the garter ribbed cardigan - grows very slowly, very slowly a few rows at a time, still as we head into summer - Bear won't need it for a while.

And I'm spinning the merino - in practice for the Bean sprout Merino Alpaca that arrived during the week. You know - the replacement for my mucked up earlier attempt at spinning the stuff.

Take care - don't over spend for Christmas, and make sure you all have enough dark chocolate stashed for those moments when only dark chocolate will do.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

FO alert, and spinning ....

Today: a FO, yes the Ccatta Andean colour work hat is finished, so photos, I've been spinning, so an update of what worked and what didn't (mostly what didn't), and not much else. I'm still plodding and knitting along on the garter ribbed cardigan for Bear, and trying to decide what socks to knit next.

So the hat - here it is, finished last night, ear flap boarders all sewn on and then the hat gently steamed. First the outside. Please ignore the little one stitch out alignment issue in this ear flap - I did spot it, much to late, and no I'm not going back to reknit the flap. I might work a little duplicate stitch miracle on it some time before I put all the left over yarn away.

... and the inside, with all the stranding on show. I was planning to mattress stitch the ear flap boarder, but .... those little teeny tiny stitches, together with the tight bind off. The pattern instructed that a tight bind off be used - to shorten the edging and help it fit the curve better. That made it difficult to sew the bind off loops neatly. I ended up whip stitching the boarder on from the right side. Stitching one ear flap loop to 2 bind of stitches seemed to be the right ratio to ease it all together.

Now here is the embarrassing part, spinning, you all know how last week I was so confident about the spinning, the green and brown fiber? How I went googling and reading about plying fine yarns on the internet, then decided to add more twist to the singles? What was I thinking? That was a very bad idea. I ruined the yarn, well the result is more string than yarn, so I either ruined the yarn or I made string. Hard, over-twisted, and kinky merino string. Here is a little sample or two, some of many. Oh I tried to save it, I discovered it is impossible to un-ply, that setting is not a panacea, and over-twisted singles are not pleasant.
The good news is that the fiber was free so I haven't lost any thing, my spinning lesson didn't cost anything other than time or pride. The other good news is that I rang Ashfords to seek more, and found out it was called green-bean and was in fact not merino, but a 50/50 merino alpaca blend. Assuming we were both talking about the same fiber (they said they only had one olive and brown mix so we probably are) it appears I really have been spinning luxury fiber. The really disappointing thing is that I had some lovely working softly twisted testing samples done before I over worked it and added more twist to the singles. I now know to sample or do the spinning equivalent of a swatch just to make sure I know what I'm doing. And to trust the swatch (or what ever spinners call small sections of test yarns).

To cheer myself up I've got more of the same, perhaps a little more than the last time, 300g of merino alpaca green-bean ordered, which should be here soon.

So after that - I needed a re-affirming spinning moment. I dithered over what to do, return to the grey corridale roving or try some merino? Working on the premise that the first trials of the green and chocolate did actually look promising and work, and that the merino felt so good compared to the corridale I went with the Merino. The last two nights I spun a little merino, and then plied it. And it worked, see? It is soft, and fine, and bouncy. This is about sock weight. Confidence is restored.

Socks - I want to cast on some socks tomorrow night, and I need easy socks, to knit at knit night. We chatter, we talk, we show and tell, and I get easily distracted so need simple stuff to knit there. I'm toying with either Chalet socks from Nancy Bush's Folk Socks, or
Undulating Rib Socks by Anne Budd, Embossed Leaves Socks by Mona Schmidt, or Merino Lace Socks by Anne Woodbury the last three all from Interweave Favorite socks. Any suggestions? I'm just not ready to take on a new sock architecture - I'm saving those for my holiday in 10 days - then 5 weeks off work.

Take care

Saturday, December 08, 2007

2 stitches was all it took ...

to mangle my Punta edging. Today I'll explain more fully with photos, plus nothing knitted is ever wasted in this house, and more spinning progress - I'm inventing/unventing the low cost bobbin re-winder. It is such a simple idea I can't be the only one to think of using a lazy kate and a spinning wheel as a bobbin re-winder.

Remember last post I was going arrrrggghhh because the edging for the ear flaps of my Andean ccatta hat was to small. I did get around to knitting another edging, but not right away. I was distracted by knit night then spinning, and when I did return to knit the edging again I noticed this -

see how the Punta on the edging are much much closer together than the Punta on the hat. I carefully read the pattern and discovered one of those little instructions that can get over looked. In this case the words that said, K2, after the punta were shaped, and before the stitches were knit for the next Punta. What a difference those two stitches make, 2 stitches per-Punta, 22 Punta, 44 stitches, 1.5 inches of much needed edging. Although I must say - I kind of like the effect of the closer Punta, all ruffled up, and might use that on a Poppy-garment some time.

See - it fits, the edging fits, if any thing it might need easing as it is a little generous! Just one more edging to knit and then some sewing and its done and I will be doing the Ccatta Punta Andean hat dance, and you may even get a photo! The hat is a pointy elf shape - so perhaps I'll wear it Christmas morning?

Thursday knit night, there was one other Ccatta hat being knit, so I did a little "I'm not perfect - please don't copy me" show and tell and Tania (who has not blogged in ages!) suggested I make the rejected band into a little cuff for the Poppy-child. What a good suggestion, in fact I might have to make a few of these to grace party bags for girlie birthday parties over the coming year.

Spinning, this last few days the merino fiber was calling me, and asking to be spun, so I spun rather than knitted. I now have two half-bobbins of twisted singles. Being new to all this spinning stuff, and easily distracted by internet info, I wandered into the Spinners group on Ravelry to have a look around. There was a discussion on under-plying, which was quite informative. Especially the idea of running the singles thru the wheel again to add or subtract twist. I did a little ply test and decided my singles were under twisted so added some more twist. Here they are all twisty. More surfing (net not wet) from there, I ended up here, and here, reading more about plying. I also found a site with a table of suggested singles twist and yarn results, but I've lost it.

After that I wanted to wind my singles off on to another bobbin, which is said to even out the twist and so result in a more even yarn (scroll down to Jeannine Bakriges's comment). So what I wanted right then and there was a bobbin winder, I googled - as you do. Those things are $US99! or more! and they appear to be custom made from small appliances, like electric cake beaters or hand drills. I grew up with a mechanic dad, in Kiwi-land, home of make do and mend, and making or fixing things with electrical tape and number 8 fencing wire. Fencing wire is a flexible wire used in farm fences - but has become a lynch pin of emergency repairs in New Zealand.
Rough home made or repaired items are described here as being of the 'number 8 variety'. Tall tales are told of how number 8 wire saved the day. "Real men" seem to have a hank of number 8 at hand for saving the day.

So there was no way I could ever imagine telling my dad that I spent $US99 on a winder that appeared home made. I could ask him to build me one, and if I was lucky it might get done by 2020, I wanted it now. Then - bright idea, I could use the spinning wheel to drive the bobbins. There was a spare whorl grove on the whorl, and a drive belt grove on the bobbin, and I had a lazy kate - all I needed was drive belt.

I tied string into the right sized loop and set the bobbin winder (temporarily converted from a lazy kate by removing the brake band) on the table, looping the string between the wheel and the bobbin, and treadled away. I used my hand to guide the yarn evenly onto the bobbin, and sat the bobbin on the build in lazy kate on the front of the Ashford traveler. (You could suspend the bobbin in a basket or box with a knitting needle axis, or stand it on the floor). The total cost of this home made winder is less than a meter of string. I think I will boast to Bear how much money I saved while he was fishing ;-D

Re-winding the bobbins did seem to even out the twist, the singles lie much smoother, and I am expecting they will be easier to ply. I am itching to ply now but two things stop me. First all the advice seems to be to let the bobbins rest overnight, and second it is the work xmas party barbecue tonight. Bear is out of town fly fishing, so me and my two small bears are of to the gymkhana themed party in a barn (not my idea btw). Wish me luck, I've got my under $5 secret santa gift, and Poppy has her hobby horse.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Well that didn't work out so well!

The 'that' in question is the ear flap boarders on the Ccatta hat, I will explain more and then I will go and knit some more ear flap boarders that do work. Also today - the learning sock is finished, and I've made the (dangerous?) move to spinning luxury fiber. Lastly - some interesting variations on purling which popped up on u-tube.

So my Ccatta hat has two ear flaps, and was about the get the ear flap boarders added. I knitted one last night, casting on 22 tiny puntas. I do love the way the pattern refers to making tiny puntas even though I have found no reference to medium, large, giant or other sized puntas anywhere. So - 22 Punta were casted on, then more purl colour work, worked flat this time, which was another learning curve.
I decided the ear flap boarder should match the hat boarder so 'interpreted' the instructions in a way that would. That meant changing from 2 rows of reverse stocking stitch colour work, to a set up knit row followed by 2 rows of reverse stocking stitch colour work. Little tweaks that made sense to me.
ta - da . . . . . opps! Bother, the ear flap boarder is short by about 3 cm, or just over an inch. I could stretch and block it to fit, but .... that would give curved or cupped ear flaps. The few photos I have seen have flat ear flaps, so tonight I will knit another longer boarder, more Puntas?. Practice makes perfect perhaps?

Learning sock, this is learning sock number 1 from Cat B's new sock architecture book. It went ok, quite straightforward if I might say so. The shaping is in an odd order for people who are used to knitting traditional toe up and top down socks, but is all conventional sock building techniques. That is it uses, paired increases, short rows with wraps and turns, and paired decreases (k2tog and ssk). I will work learning sock two soon - then a sock for me! I love the one with slip stitched patterning in striped yarn, it really breaks up the stripes in a beautiful way.

Spinning - this is so my current favorite thing, although I find that when I spin my shoulders creep up and up and then I notice and have to remind myself to relax and drop them down. This is a little lump of green and chocolate merino from Ashfords they gave me free on my last visit. Its probably only 150g, I bought 2 books (Margaret Stove, spinning and lace knitting) and picked up a tensioned lazy kate which the courier had failed to deliver some weeks earlier. I was going to buy the merino but they said it was free to make up for the troubles. Enough rambling, the spinning, oh Wow. This fiber seems to like being spun fine, I am adding the same amount of twist as I did for the Corridale and yet it is still silky. I do have to pull the odd little felted bit out, but it is so silky to work with. Did I mention it was silky? I think I am in love, but I still have to ply it and set the twist. It is very early in the relationship. I admit to a brief indulge in googling etsy merino roving, before giving myself a good talking to about Christmas spending and using existing stash first. For now I am thinking a little narrow feather and fan scarf, maybe, should I buy a little more from Ashfords just in case? but then I have other things to finish and even more in the queue.

This is a new (to me) method of purling from Cat Bordhi. It seems like a Norwegian variation of combined purling - very cute. I lot like the way I work, but the yarn stays in the back.

and this, called eastern continental, which appears extensively the same. The sad thing about this video is it has been watched 1400 times and only one comment (me). If you like it or find it useful - do let the maker know please?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Just an ear flap or two to go ..

Today, I'm knitting ear flaps, which are harder than they look, I've got the basic Ccatta hat to show inside and out, I've started my learning sock in practice for a fully fledged attempted on the something from Cat B's New sock architecture book, and a much improved Brioche video.

My Ccatta Andean hat looks finished, and it is or could be, but these hats have ear flaps, knit in two pieces. That was the subject of Saturdays knit workshop, the ear flaps, and given the instructions are all text and I'm more of a picture based kind of learner - I was glad to go and get some pointers.

So, the inner side of the hat, I love how some colour work patterns result in an almost damsk patterning on the wrong side. This is one of the ones that forms a pretty pattern.

The ear flaps, harder to do than I expected, firstly - Its a good idea to not pick up around the Punta's as instructed, but around the base of the puntas. Its near impossible to get it sitting flat other wise. Secondly - Knit at the same guage as the hat was worked, sounds simmple - but harder to do than I expected. With both knit and purl rows, and colour changes every 2 stitches - well my tension took a little wayward break. This is ear flap number 4, numbers 1-3 were knit and frogged within minutes of being knit. What went wrong? Well gauge - I had serious gauge issues, and the colour work didn't help -the first 3 looked loose and lumpy - number 4 was much improved. These are not complete ear flaps, you also knit a boarder of tiny Punta's and purl colour blocks to match the hat edge and stitch join these to the knitted triange ear flaps.

And so the sock, the leraning sock, I'm learning how to knit a sock a new way, the Cat Bordhi way, and she strongly suggests we knit two learning socks first. What I have learned in my life is that practice is usually a good thing, so I'm knitting the learning socks. Besides there are 3 babies due next year at work - so little footsie covers will be useful as gifts.

And a new pink and clearer Brioche in the round video, I think I was a little to aplogetic about the fuzzy camera work on my last one. the first U-tube message begged me to get a new camera and improve the quality. Well - those that know me would remember I had been saving for a new camera to replace the aging Minolta. And I had sampled the camera of my dreams only to find it wasn't really the camera of my dreams so I bought a spinning wheel instead. What I didn't like about he SLR Pentax was that you had to look thru the viewfinder not use the LCD screen, and a macro lens would set me back as much as the camera would. Today I borrowed a rather new ZLR Sony camera from work, thinking it would be better, but no, it was worse. The sony refused to focus any wear near as close as my old Minolta. Reality - there are technical difficulties with focus and depth of focus when making close up images, irregardless of the camera. Short story - Bear my camera guy, found that if he got really close, the focus was much more consistent. Result = new Brioche in the round video.

Brioche in the round, first knit on slightly larger than usual needles, use an even number of stitches, knit a single rib set up row (k1p1). The pink thing I am knitting - I thought it might be a hat for Poppy, but it was to small - in reality it was just stunt knitting for the camera. The piece has been frogged, the yarn and needles all put away.