Saturday, June 23, 2012

The weekend before camp

This is a weekend of packing, both cubs are off to camp, and so are packing. I'm baking - last year I completely missed the memo about bringing baked goods and when we went to wave good-bye I was amazed at the parcels of home made baked goods that were being handed over. This year there was a note from school requesting such things, I suspect there was a note last year but like many school notices it never made it out of the school bag and into parental sight.

 The other thing I have been working on is soap sweaters, as it makes traveling so much easier if the soap is encased in a neat wee knitted (or crocheted) bag. I would have been skeptical about soap sweaters if Kelly had not given me one a few years ago as a birthday present. Soap sweaters are not very exciting - so I'll spare you the details and go on to the hat.
The Hope-he-never-needs-this hat is done, and fits well. Being two layers of soft squishy 2x2 rib it is surprisingly thick, with a soft rolled edge. I like that there is an air gap at the top of the hat, air is insulation and that means it should be a warm hat. Plus it fits Bear and Elder cub - who have very different sized heads.
 The orange is bright, and I'm rather pleased with how the crown worked out, I divided the stitch count up into 6, and worked pairs of decreases so they symmetrically ate up the ribs. One of those things that is much easier to do than explain.
 The junction between the two colours is a very hard straight line, and I initially picked up on the needles that I used to knit the hat with.  After a few rows I realized that the pick up row needed more yarn so it could stretch easily - so I picked up on needles 2 mm larger
 I used a twisted German long tail cast on to start the hat, see link below - just one of many many available on YouTube. This cast on leaves a little line of what I describe as purl bumps one one side of the cast on. Each of the bumps is directly in line with a column of stitches above it.
These purls bumps were where I picked up and knit the stitches in the Orange yarn. I used a crochet hook to pull the yarn through. I was a little lazy and picked up several stitches onto the crochet hook before sliding them on to a needle a few sizes larger than the one used to knit. 
I made sure I picked up two stitches for each purl rib, and two stitches for each knit rib .. then I knit the inside hat a full inch shorter than the outside hat. I knit my outside hat 7.5 inches, and the inside hat 6.5 inches - and when turned through it is only just a little shorter. I guess the inside is narrower and shorter and the knit fabric adjusts. If you want a larger difference - you may want to make the difference between the inside and outside layers greater.

There probably will be a free pattern - some time soon, but for now if you are facing winter and want to know how I picked up the stitches - hope this fills in some gaps.

take care
na Stella

Saturday, June 16, 2012

One thing at a time

This week there are two finished objects, and one new project. I'm pacing myself, working away one at a time at the projects in the unfinished pile, the Work in Progress's that have slipped to the bottom of the queue. Doing so has resulted in one finished project, the linen lace edge that was started at Knit Camp way back in May. I cast off Friday, woven in ends yesterday and blocked today. The next project in the queue is the Hope-he-never-needs-this hat, which is finished, but not blocked. And within a month there is a secret swap project needed ... so I'd best queue that one up next. I have the pattern, and the yarn, and all I have to do is knit it ... and such things don't knit themsleves.

 So here is the lace edge all done. At knit camp 2012 we were presented with two options, to knit the lace and then stitch it to a hemmed circle of linen or to hem a circle of linen using blanket or buttonhole stitch and then crotchet an edge that could be picked up and knitted on on to. I liked the idea of when something is done it is done, with no seaming or sewing - so I went with knitting on my lace as I went.
 Once knit I the lace needed blocking, although there is something charming about the deep relief of the leaves - especially when viewed from the wrong side. Mid way through working the edge I had steam ironed it, as it is linen, just to see the effect.
 First I drew a circle in chalk on my blocking board that I thought would be the right size to block to, but I underestimated and had to draw a slightly larger circle. Then I pinned the quarter points, the eight points, then all the points in between.

One of my favorite subjects at high school was one called 'Technical Drawing'. I loved it, we spent our time learning how to draw with great accuracy and detail all sorts of things. Plans, elevations, perspective views, unfolded or 'developmental' explanations, exploded views. I loved the large sheets of heavy white paper, the use of special pencils, and scale rulers, and the sort of planning and understanding that had to happen before one started drawing. I liked that the final drawing was a graphic representation of something. Most of all I liked the tools, the specialist little boxes of drawing equipment like this extending compass, or circle maker. I've kept all of that, in its little rounded wooden box, and love any excuse to drag it out and use it. Yes I could have used a plate ... but why when I have tools like this?

At this stage it looked pretty good .. until smallest cub said "what is this?" and pointed at a few teeny tiny loose loops. She was helping me pin out the points, Little cub has a keen interest in blocking, I think it may be her favorite process. I must admit that I am always slightly in awe at how simple washing and stretching can open out the lace pattern so cleanly and clearly. Whomever discovered that technique deserves some sort of knitting honor.

Argh, there was a dropped stitch, three loose loops, which I've secured with a few pins, and once the lace is try I'll secure them by weaving a thread through them and secure it neatly. No one will ever no, expect, me, little cub and all of you.

Take care, we have a fantastic frost outside this morning, the kind that leaves the road white and sparkly, so I'll be staying safe in side and warm most of the day, but the sky is blue and the sun is shining so it will warm up slightly.
na Stella

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Hope he never needs this

I often write that I am easily distracted, and today is further proof - as if you needed any. No updates on any projects that have been blogged, instead there is a totally new project. Why? Because I can, because the cubs are off to camp, because I knit, and because some boys don't like anything fancy going on with their knitting - but us mothers know better and sneak little features that we like in anyway.

Crown decreases --- worked with the 2x2 rib pattern

So both cubs are off to camp, different camps, and its the middle of winter. Really, yes, both kids are heading off to camp away from home in the deepest darkest months of our local winter. Not only that but inland where there is snow, and mountains, and they are heading for the mountains. I'm not worried, after all I knit, and their school is fantastic, the teachers and parent helpers amazing. Both cubs will have fun, whilst Bear and I trudge off to work and earn our way. As part of the preparation for camp lists of camp requirements have been sent home. These list the usual things, PJ's, thermals, tooth brush, comb, sturdy footwear and rain wear. The list has some things that make my knitters heart sing, like two woollen sweaters, woollen socks, mittens/gloves and a warm hat. I can provide all of that, and I'm very happy to be asked to provide all of that.

Lining, in Road Cone orange, picked up and knit - the right side of the join

I was able to tick off most of the requirements, except for a hat for eldest cub. Eldest cub is a boy, one of those who hates things that make him look different so negotiations started on what sort of hat was needed, and even more what sort of hat would be worn. I swung the negotiations in my favor by suggesting the Dead Fish hat, or a Viking hat with horns or stumps. Elder cub was much more willing to amend  his basic requirements for a plain grey hat with no fold up once I showed him those options. He realised that I could knit something that made him the talk of the camp and he was willing to negotiate to avoid that.

So let me introduce the latest hat, provisionally named Hope you never need this. The hat is dark grey, Bears Bunker, one of my favorite Greys from Vintage Purls, and is lined with Road Cone, also Vintage Purls. Both are sock yarns so super soft merino with a touch of nylon. My idea as the 'Mother' knitting the hat was a dark grey conservative ribbed hat, that was reversible with a bright orange lining. Working on the principle that if you plan for the worst it won't generally happen, the hat is made for a 'lost in the bush' type emergency. My parental plan is in the event of an emergency - he takes of his dark grey hat, reverses it and becomes a beacon of Road Cone Orange that would be more easily spotted by searchers. My even more cunning plan is that now I  have planned and knitted the hat - he should never need to use it.
Hat lining - this time showing the wrong side of the join between the two yarns.

So far Hope you never need this is a very quick knit, on 2.75mm needles, in 2x2 rib. I managed to sneak 6 decrease points into my stitch count and keep them lined up with the rib pattern. I'm feeling a little pleased with that as I had a stitch count that didn't divide easily by six or seven - so had to problem solve at 9:30pm last night. There is always a feeling of accomplishment when that happens.

My other feeling of accomplishment is the pick up at the cast on edge. I could have worked a provisional cast on, but then the knit and purl ribs wouldn't line up. Picking up stitches from a provisional cast on and knitting in the other direction means the stitches sit half a stitch off. I used a twisted German long tail cast on and picked up the little purl bumps of the cast on edge - two for every knit rib, and two for every purl rib. And look - the second feeling of accomplishment! The ribs line up beautifully! Well excepting the hard line that looks a little like a seam where the two yarn colours change.

I know - that makes two 'I'm pleased with myself' features in this one post!  Which may be my mind playing tricks and distracting me from the huge pile of unfinished Wips in the basket beside my knit chair. Do you think there is an interest in the instructions for this hat? I had Bear make photos of the pick up along the cast on edge in preparation for a photo tutorial.

Take care - and feel free to start a new project, just blame me
na Stella

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Still avoiding the fix

Yes, I'm still dithering over the fix for the snagged lace. I know it is fixable. I know that fixing the pull means sitting and patiently tugging and easing the yarn back into its rightful place. I know that will take time, more than a few moments. I'm just not ready to sit and focus on that right now. What I have done is pick up the lace shawl and look at it, this I think is preparation for fixing the snag. And I managed to make a clearer image of the snag .... in all its loose yarn glory. There seems to be about 14cm of yarn to work back into the knit.

Meanwhile my classic grey cardigan grows, I have divided the yoke up into two sleeves and a body, and am now knitting the body. I have tried on the yoke and it all feels good so far. This past weekend was Queens Birthday Weekend, usually a cause for a long weekend. This year the Queen celebrates 60 years on the throne, as I type that I think that can't be right. Yet I have checked and it is, 60 years of being The Queen. There were all number of celebrations, and it seemed that the Queen's face was on the front of most printed magazines, featured daily on tv, and online. I've joined the online celebration with what seems to be the customary overuse of the Queens image, here a 26 year old Elizabeth R printed on the cover of next weeks NZ Listener peeps through the armhole of my knitting. She has the most amazing eyes doesn't she? I am sure I can see a hint of a smile in them.

The entire image shows her wearing what must have been deep  red lippy - not something I usually associate with the Queen. but there it is. As you can see I'm nearly at the end of the first skein of yarn in the cardigan. So  I either commit to a second skein .. or I set this project aside and complete one of the many other things that are still on the needles and in need of attention. I'm really not sure what the decision will be. Perhaps I'll even spin instead of making a decision. Things at work are quietly busy, there is a heap of marking to have done, fantastic news as M had her final for her PhD and once she has made a few minor changes has passed (there are balloons everywhere - and I mean everywhere in the office, dozens and dozens of them), and with no studdents there is a window of opportunity to write a few articles and work on some teaching prep. All that seems to be almost too much - perhaps I am beyond making decisions right now and I just want to wallow in part done projects and avoid making any decisions?

I'm probably just tired, weekends away do that to me, more so now than ever.
Take care, we had snow this morning, and it sort of lasted, traces still around the corners of the city and our lawn.  Bear drove carefully, and so did I, hope you do too.

na Stella

Sunday, June 03, 2012


This morning I dumped my suitcase contents on the bed and unpacked, somewhere along the way I snagged a knit shawl (Deciduous) on a zipper. Ouch ...and bother ... and other words, there is a snag in my lace knitting. A ten centimeter loop of yarn that is not where it should be. Intellectually I know I can fix this, after all the yarn can be carefully teased and tugged and pulled back into the knit until the stitches are where they were. I know this - but I'm avoiding it, I think I need a to work up to this one. Any tricks and hints welcomed with an open mind.

Also on the needles and growing is my classic grey cardigan, growing so much that I'm almost ready to split for the sleeves and body! The rate of progress surprises me, but I have had quite a bit of time to knit this as my take away project for this weekend. I think I need to work an inch more then divide for the body and arms ... after that I feel it will continue to grow.
I was presenting at Handmade 2012, taking three sessions, and loved it. The attendees were all keen and interested - which is something I like about an environment where the participants have chosen to be there. The beginners all went away half way through there projects, being able to cast on and cast off and knit, and having done all of these things four different times. I have a sneaky learn to knit project that has them make button holes using a cast off and cast on when they are only 9 rows from the start. Newbies at both sessions even managed to weave their ends in, another important skill for the new knitter. We had all the usual incidents, dropped stitches, yarn overs where they were not intended, split stitches, and choices of yarn and needles that made for sticky knitting. As a class we talked about how as a beginner you are not in a great position to make the best choices about yarn and materials - and that if it was still very awkward after a while - maybe try a different size needle, or type of yarn or way of knitting. We talked, or I mentioned that as a more accomplished anything you are able to knowingly choose materials and tools that are tricky and do well with them, and that they would all be in that position sooner than they thought. Amazingly after the first hour there were several newbies who wanted to frog their knitting back a few rows and make it better! This was after they had worked their fourth cast on and realized their casting on skills had improved to the point they wanted to rework the original cast on so it was neater. All in two hours, I don't think I was so motivated in my first two hours of knitting!

In the more advanced session there was a great bunch of knitters who totally accepted that I was going to let them explore at least 8 different methods of adding beads to knitting, and that I expected them to think about which method they would use where. Most seemed to like the appearance of methods that used a hook device to place a bead over a stitch, found the methods where the bead was already threaded on the yarn much easier to work. I even told them about Fleegles latest play with guitar strings --- and provided two strings to play with. We cut them into shorter lengths and compared the guitar technique to using super-floss and crochet hooks. Again the knitters were amazing in that they totally accepted that there was no right answer, and that the class was more exploratory - guided by me. One even started playing with placing her beads in eyelets created by yarn overs and K2togs! Above are the tools we used, mini-crochet hooks, vintage ones in teeny tiny sizes, and OralB Super floss which is useful to have in a beading kit. The super floss is commonly mentioned online in regards to beading, but here in New Zealand is not so easy to find. I do like the squishy bit near the end that is perfect for parking beads on.  I trekked off  to visit two supermarkets, and three chemists before I resorted to phoning around to locate some close to home. A well stocked Chemist will likely have it or be able to order it in for you ... I'm still tracking down a similar but different product - floss threaders.

And here is the quick project of the week, called Bookcase and it goes with the article I have just submitted to Entangled. I meet up with Genny the editor and driver of the Entangled at Handmade and was reminded of how passionate she is about promoting and supporting crafters at a level way beyond the how-to-make- a-decorated-thingy level. My  article is all about how making a record of your making can liberate you and enable more making. I just have to finish it up and provide the final images, I've been waiting for some nice diffused light to make the photos with.

Take care - hope your long weekend goes well if you are in a country that celebrates the Queens Birthday - if not - welcome to the week!