Tuesday, August 28, 2012

All of it, out on show

Well here I am, back from KAN, if you want to drool over what went on there is a KAN ravelry forum thread and a site with photos from all three KANs (note this years kan was 2012, and photos are at the bottom of the page). Now I am home, and pretty much all knit out, the past two days I have been spinning, having felt a need to do something other than knit from a chart and not wanting to start something new. Last time I did that, it was the Pi shawl specifically to knit at KAN, before I realized that traveling knits are better if not worked with the yarn on a cone. Last post I promised to reveal my splurge, my stash enhancement, so here it is, sans one or two little things that are gifts for those who could not attend.

All of it

Compared to some of the photos in the KAN ravelry forums my Stash enhancement was very moderate, but I guess that just showing this pile is mean and I really need to provide a fuller tour of the pile.

First this

Within minutes of arrival, my traveling enabler M announced that there was the perfect merino silk grey yarn for me on the trade table next to her vintage Purls stall. Not only that but she had asked for three skeins to be put aside for me. Well - I couldn't really ignore such open thoughtfulness, could I? especially as often it is difficult to secure an entire cardigans worth of yarn from indie diers. The dye pots are small compared to industry, so as a result barches are small, and once yarn is on the market the dye batches are quickly sold. I loved the grey, named Smoke and mirrors, dyed by Jessica of Spinning a yarn. Having just finished a grey cardigan I know I need another one, truly I do.

Next fibre

Next there was a stop at Wabisabi fibers, where Matt had the most amazing variety on offer. This is two little 50g twists of North Island New Zealand Corriedale, which I am told is very different to south island Corriedale. I look forward to playing with this.

Thirdly was this, on day two of KAN, first is a twist of amazing yarn, so luxurious that the budget fibre is baby alpaca! I kid you not, this is Road to china, and is 50 grams of heavy fingering yarn consisting of 65% baby alpaca, 10% cashmere, 15% silk, and 10% camel. I don't even think it actually weighs anything, the label says 50 grams, but in ones hand the yarn is so soft as to feel weightless. Next to the yarn is a cute wee needle gauge, from Finland in the shape of a robot ....because ... you know ... it was cute, and the yarn fumes got to me.

That little splurge was followed the next day, as KAN is a three day event, by this a soft white and silver grey sock yarn blend, with merino and a touch of nylon also from Wabisabi fibers. I had seen this on day one, and loved it. Still there on the last day indicated that I really needed to adopt this fibre .... As no one else had.

More lovely rainbows
Also on the last day I spotted this, or rather these, two lovely hand made Rolags of blended merino. You know that jeweler, Frances who makes the beautiful spindles? Well this is one of her blends, I've spun her fibre before and the colors just glow. The two packets match, giving me all sorts of opportunity to play more with the fibre colors as I spin. I wish the photo did justice to the blend ... but it only hints at the bright sunny jewel colors.

M again

Then as the traders prepared to pack up, M from Vintage Purls convinced me that this was the perfect colour for me and as such needed to come home with me. I had been avoiding this fibre, yes it is 'my favorite' shade of grey blue, but it has sparkly bits as well. I'm not sure how I feel about sparkle in my fibre, but this has just a hint amidst the merino, alpaca and silk, such a teeny amount I could pretend it is not there.

I just realized that KAN started with M enabling me, and finished the same way .... with M enabling me, and I don't care, with friends like that i am one lucky knitter/spinner.

Take care, next post will have actual reporting of knitting and spinning .... I promise.

Na stella

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Nearly home

Just a quick post, I feel like the yarn harlot, posting from the airport. KAN is over, stash has been enhanced, considerably (embarrassing details in next blog post), friends meet, and new ones made, flying home, flight delayed new one organized and so more knitting time than expected. Furring the week expect KAN photos will be posted by Maree, when they appear I will link, for now the post is all about the current sock.

The foot
My knitting consisted of the pirate sock, which has grown considerably, surprisingly so given it is totally chart knitting and i was traveling. The foot is done, completely true to chart ...

Eye of partridge heel
The heel is done, and here I admit I drifted away from the instructions. Not because I disagreed with the designer, but because I love eye of partridge stitched heels in semi-solid sock yarn. I simply could not ignore the opportunity to work the heel flap this way.

As I knit, I was surrounded by knitters, all knitting lovely things, all very clever. Most asked about the sock, as you do, i asked about many projects in many hands, and I explained my sock was pirates skulls and crossbones, but one had to stretch the sock as if worn to really see the skulls. M suggested that I put eyes in the skulls with yarn overs ... What a brilliant idea. The kind of 'why didn't I think of that idea' that I wish was. One.

Skull eyes
So I did, Added eyes. Just where the skull was the widest, on the second row of that section there are four stitches inside the twisted edge stitches, I worked a YO, SSK, K2tog, YO, and now there are little eye sockets. In the green maybe a tad more Roswell alien pirate skull ... but eye sockets just the same. I plan to do this all the way up the leg, and work the second sock to match.

na Stella

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Leaving on a plane in 3 hours

I am, off to KAN(knit August nights) in Napier, traveling with K and M, meeting F, and M and S, and many many others, . This week has been a lot of sorting and planning and not much knitting that is blog worthy. Blog worthy? Yes not blog worthy, swatches without reason except to show how, or be ready to show how, swatches in thick yarn, thick for me, so knitting on 4mm needles! I know, you can all laugh, but I like my 2.25- 3.25 mm needles. I seem happiest With the small quick movements that knitting with fine yarn and small needles uses. I like fine gauge knits.

This is the sum total of the knitting since the weekend, one giant fish, two swatches .... Together with plans and diagrams and class notes. This was not all my own doing, Although I knit these swatches, Morag from Vintage Purls has been coordinating the class paperwork. Good thing to, as she found several typos in my content and repaired them for me, I Am constantly reminded how lucky I am to have such have clever and kind friends. In this pile are two kinds of button holes, three kinds of edges, three kinds of cast on, decreases and increases, and potential for all sorts of little finishes to be added, worked and tweaked.

Nearly all packed
So far my suitcase is full, I seem to have every hand knit I've ever made and still own with me as a teaching sample. Imagine if I knit with thicker yarns, the suitcase would be a giant one andnid have to pay excess baggage. I think everything I need is in there. A few years ago I managed to pack, then repack and travel with no undies other than the ones I was wearing. Easily fixed, with a trip to the supermarket for one of those ugly but useful multipacks. After that I realized that I could cope with whatever drama travel brought me. I have checked that I have enough 'smalls', plenty of knitting knitting(socks and fish), and contact lens solution, all the important things really.

Take care, if you are travelling check you have the essentials, like smalls and a big empty bag to put things like yarn that might be purchased into.

Na Stella

PS: smalls are what undies were called, in days gone by, by older well brought up women who were far too polite to use common and vulgar names like undies, knickers (or worse).

Saturday, August 18, 2012

New things!

Today I am dithering, I have things to prepare for next week at KAN in Napier, some of which is done, some is in progress, and I'm distracting myself with all sorts of other things. I started a new project, for no good reason than it seemed a good idea at the time, and I have new stash, belatedly reported.

Pi shawl
The new project is a pi shawl, in red possum, merino silk lace weight yarn. I've admired the huge variety of pi shawls out there in the knitterverse for a long time, which the grey cardigan done and nothing really next in the queue I was easily distracted by the idea of a centre out shawl. The pattern is a freebie on ravelry, but relies on the knitter having access to an elizabeth Zimmerman pi shawl to start before heading out into a clutch of repeating laces motifs in each pi-band. The pattern modification is by Mwaa knit obsession, and called EZ 100th Anniversary Shawl: Gull wings. So far I am loving it, as like all centre out things the initial stages grow quickly and provide a good return for a little knitting.

Woollen not worsted
I've been spinning, or rather plying, here are two yarns finished this past week. Both are woollen, so spun from rolags, plied, then washed and fulled a little to set them nicely. 100 g each, one thicker spun than the other, one graduated the other more even. Woollen spinning is faster, and considerably lighter, more open, more air in the yarn, and for me produces a thicker yarn. I'll keep practicing to see if I can spin woollen finned than this.

Warm, red, orange and yellow worsted, 160g
Then there is more plying to do, a 160 g bobbin of graduated merino in warm yellows, oranges and reds. I was going to two-ply this, but then decided that the yarn would be nicer if I chain plied and kept the colour runs less mixed up. This is my classic hand dyed, hand spun, the hand knit baby blanket yar .... So once the pi shawl is done I suspect this will be the next centre out knit. Spinning is at my house tomorrow, so this will be my settle in and spin work.

The one in the middle
This is a stash addition from a month ago, the middle yarn in the Vintage Purls sock yarn club, a simply beautiful pale purple pink, destined for a shawl. Little cub loved this, and I suggested we knit it as a KAL, once I had explained she was keen. Little cub has a pale pink fingering silk merino blend that she won at Unwind earlier this year that would be perfect. We both have projects to get off the needles, when that's done ...plan to start knitting Epsom as our own mini KAL, Epsom is the shawl that comes with the club kit.

And the last installment in the winter sock yarn club came late last week. A stunning colour work project, with a lovely mod feel, the geometry and the circles of decreasing size are just lovely. I will provide a link to the pattern page when all the sock yarn clobbers have theirs, otherwise I might be accused of spoiling the surprise for those who live further away.

Take care, knit some, spin if you can, see you at KAN next weekend if you are in the Napier area.

Cheers na Stella

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Look! finished object!

Yes, a finished item of knitting, finished, and worn almost every day since I cast off and stitched buttons on. Finish objects mean that there is new blog content, or in this case the next project surfaces for needle time.

So here is my new favorite cardigan, I want another one, and then a third. Sock weight cardigans are my new favorite thing. I finished last Wednesday night, a week ago and have worn this most days since, I live the weight, the colour, the lace and the length. I've had several favorable comments, even one expressing surprise I could both knit and crochet! This is my favorite feature, the way the deep single rib hem pulls the waist in just a little and hugs the body creating a subtle waist effect.

There is no ease, negative or positive. The cardigan is the same measurement as I am so it sits nicely unbuttoned, and buttons up neatly with no weird pulling or bulging. I had an on again and off again relationship with the neck, planning it, testing it, worrying it was to low, to deep, too loose, hoping the ribbing would tighten it up .... and in the end the neck is perfect, sits just where I want it to. Not to low, not to high. I will have to revisit my notes and see if I have enough to recreate this shape in y next cardigan. Oh yes there will be another one ... And not to far way.

Which brings me to the next project, I dug the sanquhar mitts out of the work basket and knit. So far I am up to the end of the thumb gusset but ...

Yes there is a but, I was all confused about how to make this one a right, or was that a left? What confused me was how to are this one the opposite of the first mitt. The pattern is written with a symmetrical thumb gusset, but there is a date or initials box which is to sit on the inside wrist. On the first mitt the year fits just in the right place, on this mitt, the initials sit off past the wrist bone. Tonight I will frog and fix ....because if I don't the placement will always bug me.

And lastly buttons, knitters study group meet last Saturday to make Dorset buttons. I had more fun than I thought I would, these are a mix of sewn and crotcheted buttons. I can see more of these being made ... Dorset buttons might just be perfect for the next sock yarn cardigan. I always thought that hand sewn buttons had to be large and clumsy, but no,not always, these are less than 2cm across and delicate.

Take care, hope you have dry weather, we have had four or more days of heavy rain and I am ready for some sunshine, or at least some dry.

Na Stella

Wednesday, August 08, 2012


I think I will be nearly done tonight, last night I decided to finish the waste yarn button holes. It was night and not good phot conditions, but I can show you how they looked when done. This is the right side, after removing the waste yarn, I picked up the live and freed stitches and promptly cast them off, passing one over the other until only one stitch remained.

That left me with one live loop, I used a needle and a short length of yarn to secure that one stitch, weaving the ends in as invisibly as I could. If you look close you just might spot the slightly thicker rib where the end was woven in on the wrong side. I almost like the wrong side of the band more than the right side, the i-cord bind off seems an almost perfect match for the slipped stitch edge that sits just inside the picked up stitches.

So now all I have is two inches of cuff ... and sewing the buttons on and I can wear it, or block it, or both. Steam blocking will mean I can wear it sooner .... dont-cha think?

Take care, hope your projects are making similar progress.

Na Stella

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Edges and buttons!

I'm rather pleased, the grey cardigan, the one knit on teeny 2.75mm needles using sock yarn is almost done! Almost, there are button holes to finish and sleeve cuffs to work, but the end is in sight. Todays post is all about the little fiddle bits, starting with the buttons, and ending with the edges. I don't have progress photos, as much of this has been knit in the evenings, but I do have details. And yes 2.75mm isn't teeny for many knitters, but it is kind of smallish to me to be using for a cardigan.

Vintage blue buttons x 7
Here are the vintage buttons I settled on, I was thinking either classic shell, pale or dark, or even classic white shirt buttons ... but these ones caught me out with how well they seemed to echo the crochet lace detail. I wove all the ends in after trying the cardigan on, it fits and I love the neckline. For a while there I was wondering if my plans were weird and I would have a cold shouldered cardigan, you know one that leaves to much shoulder out on show and cold? I calculated the neck stitch count by draping a measuring tape around my neck, trying to allow for a wide rib band, and forgot that the weight of a garment can stretch the neck edge, hence my use of small needles and bind offs that will resist stretching.

Buttons with crochet lace
On the cardigan, the blue and white and gold seems just fine, not too sparkly. Just goes to show that not all that is planned is best, and sometimes things just seem right. I worked wide 1x1 rib edges right around the cardigan, using different sized needles.once it would have been important for me to use the same size needle so the rib matched exactly, now I realize the neck edge will stretch when worn so a smaller needle will help control the stretch. I cast off the front and neck edges using i-cord bind off, this time a two stitch variety, using a 2 mm needle across the neck and a 2.5 mm needle along the fronts. This should help the neck stay firm.

Mitred cause interesting effects
The mitered increases at the corners worked well, and produced some interesting effects that I had not considered would happen. Because the hem ribbing was already well established when I started working the final band in the round, the mitered corners created an interesting shape, unusual but not ugly. Right now nothing has been blocked, when it is I will be able to shape the corners a little more sharply.

Tubular rib cast off
I did consider working the i-cord bind off across the hem but thought it would provide a hard horizontal line, something that is hard to make successful at hip level in any design. Instead I worked tubular bind off ... Two set up rows then stitching my way across the entire hem grafting the Knits to the Purls. I tried to do this with all the stitches on one needle, but resorted to the easier method of separating the stitches out into two parallel needles.

Which leaves me finishing the sleeve ribbing .... And the finishing the afterthought button holes.

More on both of those next time, and a decision of the cuffs are cast off with I-cord or tubular fashion. I'm even wondering if this could become a late entry in the games which are not the Ravelry Olympics, although I have other wips that really need to see some closure, and I'm not sure if I've meet any qualification regulations. I guess this could be my spectator project. Elder cub is now into rowing, and is so interested in the rowing - new Zealand doing well is only increasing his interest.

Na Stella

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Button holes

Button holes, yes I have made a decision, buttons chosen, but not photographed - sorry, photos next time. I found some beautiful metal silver gilt white and soft blue vintage ones in my button collection. The positions have been determined, and the button holes commenced.

The method I went with was the one given in two of my favorite technique books, The big book of knitting, and Knitting school. Simply put the method involves marking the button hole with waste yarn, and once the garment is knit, removing the waste yarn, putting the released live stitches on needles and working a straight forward cast off. There are also options to oversee the buttonhole edge to further stabilize and reinforce it. The method also sounds like a bit of a fiddle on 2 mm needles. I liked the idea that the edge was the same top and bottom, and that the bind off would reduce stretching. I've only ever worked one and two row button holes before so this is a bit of a leap into the unknown but I trust those authors.

The corners are coming along nicely, metered increases every second round in single rib. I was a little worried about the width of the bands, but given the buttons are about 1.2 cm the band has to be 2.5cm, and the neck band will stretch and thin when worn. I am heading towards a 3 stitch icord bind off as the edge, worked on larger needles to make it soft, round squishy, and stretch enough. Either that or a sewn bind off but that would required many ends sewn in as I doubt I could bind off all around with one section of thread.

To guide me I used advice given to me way back when I was a undergraduate student, that women's button holes are on the right when worn, because women are always right. On that provocative feminist note I'd best leave and go back to my knitting, still round and round.

Na Stella