Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The one where Bear finally gets a custom sock

Many years ago I began to knit socks, and like any knitting enthusiast I shared my hand knit socks with those I love. Bear has over the years received many many hand knit socks, some knit specially for him, some knit and that he wistfully yearned for so much so I decided he could have them even though I had not specifically cast on those socks for him. At some point in my sock knitting history I asked for a yarn for 'men' socks, and Vintage Purls delivered - with Bears Bunker. Over the years I have bought several skeins of Bears Bunker, I have even knit with it, and beyond that way back in 2009 I knit socks - but not for Bear.

So it is about time that Bear had socks in Bears Bunker .... or at this moment in time Sock.

The sock is done, and the second will be cast on tonight, Last night I wove the toe, and had Bear test fit the sock, whilst I love these dpns circs are much easier to try on socks with. There were a few worries with this sock, not about the sock itself or the pattern, but about the sock fitting Bear. Bear has cuter feet than I, he has squarish feet, with round toenails, and wider feet than I .... and the Revival pattern suggested sizing up by using a larger needle to knit the sock. Now in my world socks are knit firm, 9spi, on 2.25mm needles, and that is how it is. So I knit the sock as written, but on my sock needles (2.25mm) not 2.75mm and hoped for the best. The best being that the sock would fit Bear without cutting off all circulation to his back paws, the back up plan was that I would score the socks. The other worry was that as these were top down and at a much firmer gauge than the pattern suggested .. and with lots of twisted traveling stitches and mock-baby cables ... perhaps I would run out of yarn.

Happy ending in that the socks fit, he says they are 'firm' but not in a bad way, and I have 7.5g of yarn left over from the 50 grams I started with for this sock.

All in all a good result.
I'm off to look up my homework for the Jacey Boggs from Insubordiknit workshop that is being held this weekend.

One of these days I am sure my family will try and restrict my play time given how often I am not here in the weekends because of fibre things.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

KAN Report

a post subtitled - not all of this is for me.

So I've just returned from KAN, with the traveling troupe of Dunedin knitters, not all of them, there were a few that just couldn't make it this year so we numbered four. What an adventure!
Travel to and from Napier was disrupted by fog, with delays, hiring a rental car, driving for 4.5 hours, an overnight stay at the Yaldhurst Tavern followed by at 4:30am start. The Yaldhurst was an old school workman's tavern, where we as impartial non-locals were required to draw the meat raffle before the waitstaff were free to issue our room keys. Travel back involved another 4:30 am start, for a 6:30am flight, which was delayed by 1 hour - resulting in a missed connection and a later flight home.
All that paled into insignificant with KAN, three days of knitters, shopping and learning - such fun.

First stop was the KAN registration desk, and there we picked up the final timetable/info and recieved a wonderful bag of goodies, long dpns, needles for sewing in ends, stitch holders, real coffee, badges, discount cards, yarn samples, and two balls of yarn! Yes really - the local mill has lovely stuff and they shared generously. We four knitters 'pooled' ours so two of the Dunedin knitters went home with project quantities in their fav colours. All of that was packed away in a lovely reuse tote - I got butterflies, but others had faux zebra and some even faux leopard. Behind is some stash enhancement.

I meet lovely Ravelers in person, Just Jussi, Matt, and Sue, Sally and Kate, Sourkraut who started her VP colour-work sock and brought amazing jewellery ... and many others who I have not yet connected in my fuzzy sleep deprived mind to their Ravelry identities. The event was organized by the super amazing Maree ...... who's praises are being loudly sung here[Rav link folks].

There were of course traders, with lovely lovely things. I was restrained, and made modest purchases - leaving plenty for others. I 'had' to have some of Matts fibre, he has the most amazing blends that I just don't see in any other places, the green is suri Alpaca, and the (cough cough) grey blue, is a blend, Merino, Alpaca, Silk and Angora. Little Radiator had the most amazing stock, as she most logically explained she 'loves Frieda' and 'loves knitting' therefore Frieda must have been a knitter! She also designed a tee shirt print that was perfect for teaching steeking in ...... and the felt 'badges' with Spinner, and vintage spinning and knitting prints. She has so many cool badges that my wee head was fair spinning. I now have visions of decorating an old fashioned blanket with her badges in the style of a girl guide or scout who has attended many jamborees.

Back to the stash acquisition, amongst that is also a ball of Kauni - Danish Yarn with fabulously long colour shifts and glowing colours. There is also a bag of mill-scrap, pencil roving, in super-wash merino, the blue and orange which is destined for a baby blanket. And a few wee pairs of the most amazing mini scissors - Hiya Hiya Puppy Snips. I also bought Teosinte - because it was there and I fell in like with it very much.

I took the current baby blanket as my to do first project. The baby shower is on Tuesday aka tomorrow. Not only did I finish it but it was blocked in the motel room with stunning views of the ocean and bay and sky blue skies. I do have photo of that but is on Karens Camera as I forgot to take one (Doh!). What I do have is a photo of the finished read to gift blanket at home _ I had to fudge the pattern to get it out of the <500m I had, so omitted one or two charts and developed a more economical edge. I am in awe of Anne's lace designing - aren't you?

There was non -knitting and spinning, Napier has some of the most amazing vintage shops. Toby has developed an interest in things to do with vintage aircraft - so these NZ Air force buttons seemed a good score. The other vintage buttons will easily find a home in my own button collection.

To complete the weekend I arrived home to a small international packet of book things, my very own bone folder, and bookbinding needles, curved and straight. And Bear just rang to see if I was here, he has just collected the cubs from school and will be here in 10 minutes ....

So I'm off to put on the kettle and get ready to catch up with family things, na Stella

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ready, set ---- Steek

This is a post I prepared earlier. i know - kind of blog cheating. As I write I'm waiting for an airport shuttle to take me to the ...... airport, from where I will fly to Whanganui, returning Tuesday at 9pm. Wednesday I have work all day, then in the evening the cubs are performing at a Stars On Stage concert. Thursday I leave for KAN.

I think I'm ready ... my steek swatches are all ready to show and teach. Here they are, one yet to steek, one steeked but not yet cut, and one cut and demonstrating two different kinds of edge finishes.

wish me luck

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Not much to show around here this post,

and there might not be much for a wee while yet. I'm having one of those 'away' weeks, Monday and Tuesday away to the North Island. I am home Wednesday which is lucky as that is the night the cubs perform on the town hall stage ... and mu parenting reputation would be trashed if I wasn't there. Last year only one cub performed but we were not quick enough to buy tickets and the show sold out. There was some serious pouting from that cub ... and I made sure I was there on the morning tickets went on sale to avoid the same fate this year. Thursday I fly out to KAN .....back Sunday. I guess there will be knitting but not a lot of time to post.

So this week I managed to turn a heel. Much as a I like toe up socks occasionally I find a pattern that I like so much I knit it as written, even if it is top down. Revival is such a sock, and even though I love toe up the heel on a top down is at times a magic thing. This is one of those heels, I've knit the flat, turned the corner, worked the heel cup, and am in the midst of decreasing away the gusset. As always I couldn't leave the pattern alone, and I've added 3 extra stitches to the instep - so I have have a tiny baby cable on each side of the instep not just on the left.

And these are the other knit project, the semi urgent one. These are my steeking samples for KAN, my class is called Getting the Chop and these swatches are made to chop. That is what I am off to do now, finalize my teaching stuff so I have diagrams and instructions and all that I need to have knitters happily stitching and snipping into their knitting for two and a half hours. I'm planning to start with a demonstration, and then hand around the demo swatch, all steeked - that should set the class off on a confidence seeing-is-believing footing. After that students will steek and then work two different edges ... .. .

I'll post when I can, don't panic if a midweek post doesn't happen, I'll be knitting even if not posting.
until then - take care

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Some where in here there is a swarm of bees

I know this, because the pattern calls this section of the chart Swarm Lace, and when I look at the images online and with the pattern I see those little bees so clearly. As I knit this section I can imagine the bits that will look like wings, and bodies and even heads with eyes. As yet, alas those little bits don't look like bees to me. I am knitting on and trust once the blanket is blocked, and manipulated into a flatter squarer shape, the bees will emerge.

So far so good, I skipped the second lace section, and went straight to the Swarm of Bees. The final boarder is worked over eight stitches, sideways. My loose plan to estimate how much yarn I need for that is to weigh my yarn for the next few rounds and work out how much yarn a round uses ... then kind of double and fudge this up so I can knit the swarm repeats until I think I have enough left to work the boarder safely. As I said - fast and loose and very very much in the realm of wild-estimate.

Remember these? The books I made last weekend? I only showed you the outside of them then, but thought you might like a peek at the inside.

I'm one of those people that likes to collect the patterns they like. Quite frankly if I didn't resist quilting and other simillar hobbies with stashable supplies I'd be totally untrustworthy around any kind of fabric shop. As is I limit myself to yarn, and fibre for spinning and books, and fabric to sew ......(ond-day), and ink, and paper, and nice writing things. That also extends to 'collecting' wrapping paper from the local art supply shop. They have the most amazing collection of decorative papers- for sale by the sheet, at the same prices usually as standard mass market wrapping paper. What I discovered that all those random sheets of beautiful paper that I have squirreled away with no real purpose is excellent for covering books and for decorating the inside.

Now Bear has a book, he chose the cover, this textured green. The paper is one of the 'wrapping' papers that ArtZone stock. The pattern is deeply impressed into almost felt like thick paper, I have no idea how one would use it to wrap with but it makes a wonderful book cover.

Bear wanted lines, so I set up a blank word document, bought some lovely paper (HP 90gsm) and printed out book pages to his specification. Bear chose the cover and the inside cover. All the books have the same vintage green linen thread, it seems to suit everything I've used it on.

And now I have to admit that I have not actually put anything in any of these books yet, my teaching is coming to an end for the semester and it feels wrong to start a new book to document the end of that. I have at least four part used books that really 'should' be finished before I begin a new one. Unless that is until I start a new project. I might also need to admit that there are at least two more books part made .... covers, pages printed, and holes punched ... all ready to sew. I figure a good book will keep until I need it.

A few people have asked me about pens, fountain pens, vintage and or new, asked me to recommend one for them. I have to admit that while I learned to write 'cursive' with a fountain pen in school in the 1970's, and bought a Parker 45 for lecture notes in the late 1980's I don't know much at all, especially compared to some. I certainly don't know enough to be recommending pens - old or new. I can only share what I have and know, I like my Parker 45, and my three Parker 51's and my Parker 75. These are all vintage, between 50 to 20 years old, and work well, the 45 and 75 are able to be repaired with modern bits even though those models are no longer in production, they take a standard Parker ink filling system. Bear on the other hand loves the way the 51 and the 75 look but hates the way they feel when he writes, those pens are not the right shape or weight for his hands. I have half a dozen older pretty pens, Burnham's and a Conway Stewart, a Sheaffer, and an Onoto. These are all older, pre 1950ish, and feel more 'delicate' to me, I think these are more temperamental, need more care to work well and can't be abandoned filled with ink like the Parkers to their own devices quite so much. I have a lovely Esterbrook in Red and see why so many love these little pens. They are easy to clean, and use and have easy changeable nibs - often these are recommended as perfect starter pens for collectors - and if you get one that is restored that would be a good pen to use daily.

My only 'new' pen is my recent present of a Sailor 1910, and it is a lovely pen to use. Since I have such little experience with the world of fountain pens and especially new pens, and since I know that not all pens feel right to every one - I feel I can't really recommend a pen with clear conscience. Bear bought a rather expensive P51 and it is now mine as it is not right for him, I had the same experience with a Lamy 69, which is now Bears and he loves it, as I love his-now-my P51.

If you suspect you might like a fountain pen, a cheap entry model is the Lamy Safari, which will tell you if you actually like writing with wet ink, and the feel of a pen and all the ink choices that go with using one. You can buy Lamy's online fairly cheaply and in most towns, and they very quite nice to use, they come in nice colours and a few different finishes. I have promised myself a charcoal one with a black nib one day. Bear has one, and both cubs have one each, and it is the pen we gift to people who want to try a fountain pen. If you already know you want something more special than a Lamy safari, then visit the Fountain Pen Network, where people hang out and talk pens, ink, paper, supply's, suppliers, review and discuss pens, pen care and pen maintence. Chances are you might find a pen-user near you who can guide you into the world of fountain pens much better than I. Sorry its a little like finding a knitting project for some one, I might guess at what you want to knit, but I'd never be sure :D

na Stella

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Just in time ...

for more snow, the Owl mitts are done, really done, finished, with thumbs and ends woven in and blocked and nearly dry! Can't be any more done that that! There has been other knitting, the greener than green baby blanket grows and I've been playing with books.

Thursday night I finished knitting the third mitten ... for those who have been tagging along, the first mitten was a reject, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it was way to large, a result of my complete beginner-ness at double knitting. As I worked my tension settled and tightened .. and so subsequent mittens were smaller than the first. The second reason to reject it was the motif wasn't quite round enough for me, the bear was a little horizontal - so I decided to try some Owls. I had enough yarn to finish two more mittens, so rather than frog first I left it - and planned to knit two more - hence I now have three double knit mittens.

One of the other changes I made was to use a tubular cast on for mittens two and three. The pattern called for casting on and then increasing to get the stitches for the inside, that is the finish on the underneath mitten. While that looked nice enough I really prefer the seamless quality of the tubular cast on.

So early this morning, before breakfast even I blocked these, fulling them a little to thicken them up. As the 2nd and 3rd mittens were slightly different in size, but not as different at the first mitten - fulling seemed a good solution. Winter mittens need to be thick and warm anyway - and fulling achieves that. For any one wondering - fulling is the textile term for knitting that is felted. And not a moment to soon ... today we have snow again, this is the second or third snow fall of the morning, with more predicted.

The next baby blanket has been growing. Every time I see this out of the corner of my eye ... I can't help think how light this green is. Not light in a pale sense but light is a sense that the green glows a little like the sun is shining on it. I've finished 2 of the 4 repeats for the central section, and I'm feeling brave enough to work the main body without markers. I have 360m - and the pattern calls for much much more than that. My plan is to to work maybe three repeats of the center section, and then move straight to the bee border, then on to the edge ......

Last week I made a book, 100 sheets (200 pages), coptic bound. That book has gone to a new home, but this week I found myself making more. Two more books were assembled yesterday, one with blank pages, and the other using Rhodia 5mm grid paper. that one will be a perfect knitting project book. All the paper I have used is 'fountain pen friendly', which means that the paper is of a good quality and the ink behaves nicely. Nicely - in the fountain pen world means no feathering, and no bleed thru to the other side of the paper. I have plans to make two more books today ... sometimes when the mood strikes, its best not to fight it. I've even headed out and bought HP premium paper as recommended on the Fountain Pen Network and more card to use for the boards. Besides Bear was looking at these with potential for ownership and use. I realized I didn't want to give these ones up, rather I was keen to make some more. So some of today's production may be for him.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

New, New and old

Today there are two new things, one on the needles and one in print, and one ongoing - old thing - yup, those mittens are still on the needles. There was also a moment of insight - where I realized that there was a much simpler way to go about things. Obvious in hindsight really.

So first new thing is another article in Entangled, this time looking into how attitudes to repairing have changed. The subtitle for the article is
"The four R's, reduce, recycle, reuse and re-purpose - a brilliant slogan for what was once common sense. But why did the creators forget the fifth 'R', repair?"

I love this issue, Francis Stachl is featured, and I don't know if I am more excited that the feature is about her spindles ... or that there is none of her jewellery featured which means they will follow up with more of her work in another issue - she is amazing. In keeping with an article on Frances and her spindles, there is a new feature "Abby Franquemont who answers your textile production questions". Abby Franquemont! And more, lace knitting, hats, and alpaca fibre (Doe Arnott). I was a little hesitant of the digital format for magazines, but two things won me over, and no not an ipad, sadly I don't have one (yet). First the price, the subs are really really ecomonical which is important to a fibre junkie like me, much better than any print magazine I've come across. Second because I have a computer at home and at work, I can read an article here or there, as I want to. Reading on screen isn't the same as curling up with a print magazine on the sofa, but the images are amazing, full colour an intense, and the articles are not limited by the cost of printing pages, so there is the depth detail that many magazines can't deliver.

The second new thing is a new project, a lace baby blanket in 'outside green' handspun. I've long admired Anne Hanson's lace work, and there is another baby due at work ... so perfect excuse to knit Honey Baby. It was a very difficult toss up between that and Rosebuddie. The choice could still go either way .... or I could just knit Rosebuddie next. I know I don't have enough to knit the whole blanket but I plan to knit the bees and maybe skip the second last lace band ... depending on how the yarn flows.

The old project is of course the seemingly everlasting double knit mittens, tonight I might even finish the mitten tip, and make a start on thumbs ... imagine that ... nearly finished! And during the week had one of those realizations, you know the sort, after coming to a solution, and recognizing that the 'problem' was all of my own making and there was an easier solution? I realized that to create a left and right double knit mitten using the one pattern chart all I had to do was to switch the colours when I knit the second one. As the mittens are the negative on the inside - switching the yarn colours for the chart would result in a matched pair!

Oh well .. I at least can learn new things even if it is after I develop an overly complicated work around.


Saturday, August 06, 2011

Nearly back to where I was

since Tuesday I have been knitting, and doing a little spinning. Well I have also been working, and doing family things like cooking and ironing and putting cubs to bed. In terms of fibre stuff, I have been knitting the mitten (again) and carefully and so far it goes well. I've also found myself in with another knitter in the house.

I did manage to reverse the mitten chart, I had to print it out, scan it, and then import it into an image program and then flip it and print it again. I just couldn't get a format that would import it directly into an image program. A little fiddly but seems to have done the trick, especially as the chart used capital M's for make one, and the decreases were directionally marked by a diagonal line. When the chart was flipped all the decreases just turned over and the capital M's just did the same and looked like capital M's.

In the original chart there were five Owls, and the left and right mittens were charted the same. With the chart flipped - now I have a left and right that are mirror images of each other!

And this is the 'other' knitter in my house, the one who sat down today and decided to make a purse. She cast on 10 stitches and worked a bit, decided it would be to small, frogged it and cast on again. At this stage she has worked a button hole and is working the body of the purse, counting rows and all. From her description the purse will start out an oblong, and she will fold it up a bit like an envelope and stitch the edges together and attach a button. I'm rather proud of my wee 9 year old knitter - I think she is shaping up well. Littlest cub is still keen on knitting her own colour work Owls, and I have promised her that once her main project is cast off... we will sort two yarns (maybe even buy some specially!) and get her started with charts.

Take care, I've got to go and ruffle in a fibre cupboard.
Tomorrow is spinning night and I've got to go and sort some fibre to spin, I've spun all that I had on the go and its not ready to ply yet. I like to let it sit for a few days especially if I plan to ply from the inside and outside of a center pull ball.

na Stella

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

One more time, slowely and carefully

Today's post will be brief, Bear has taken the smallest cub out to her swim lesson, and I have tonight's dinner on the stove (Leek and Potato soup or Vichyssoise if there is cream). Elder cub is charged with watching the pot .. but he is a pre-teen boy and easily distracted so I'd best not be away to long.

First of all - Thank you to all those who left comments or otherwise messaged me to say they felt my pain over the Owls, and that they too had been there. I intellectually know I'm not alone in the knit world, and that others have knit-hiccups, but hearing that I am not alone makes the world a smaller place.

So Monday night I frogged the Owls, it was a slow process as the two colours were intrinsically intertwined. Then I rewound the two colours into neat center pull balls. I didn't have to do that but had I left the balls as they were, center pull balls that were used and had frogged yarn wound around them, I would have been reminded with each tug that this was not my first attempt at knitting these.

Tuesday night I started the mitten ..... carefully with the chart on the right side of me and the first Owl mitten on the left side. I wanted as many reminders as I could not to skip any section of the chart.

and here I am today, with the start of a new mitten, that matches the other mitten!
Wish me luck!

Finally - yes there is something odd about the Owl positions Kathy, there are five Owls around the cuff of the mitten, 3 on the 'front' and 2 on the 'back'. There is only one chart for the mittens so both left and right are shaped exactly the same, so when one becomes the left ... well it has a different number of Owls than the one that becomes the right. I'm now wondering if I can play around with the page in an image program and flip it so I have a right and left mitten.

ok soups smells good, cub has wandered in to see if he could watch the pot from another room - time to go and check things.
take care.