Tag: techniques

Ohhhh, the weather outside . . . 16

Is glorious!!!

I think I’m going to make it. Only sixty-two bajillion papers left to grade, and my first semester back in the classroom will be in the books. My last class was Thursday, and I have to tell you–my subconscious must have taken that as license to KNIT!!! I’ve been shamelessly ignoring my responsibilities and knitting away on all sorts of odds and ends all weekend.

The picture above is the tiny front of a cardigan for a new bundle of preciousness I’ll get to see for the first time over the holidays. The cute is killing me. Pictures soon.

There’s also my Inlet cardigan. Little problem with that one. I finally finished up all the pieces, gave it a good soak, and set to work pinning it out on my blocking board.

 While I was futzing around trying to get the fronts to line up, I realized that something wasn’t right.

Ugh. At some point during the craziness of the semester, I must have gone to finish up that front left side and temporarily lost my mind. Why in the world did I decrease at the top on the armhole side?? I’m trying to focus on the fact that this is knit bottom up, so fixing it shouldn’t take long. Still . . .

The other thing that’s been on my mind is the Fringe and Friends New-Year Knitalong. It’s a Logalong! I’ve wanted to try log cabin-ing forever, and I absolutely love a good knit along. I’m pretty sure I’m going to be on board for this.

Karen Templer recommended Ann Shayne and Kay Gardiner’s Log Cabin Field Guide as a good starting point. It explains the basics of how the log cabin construction works and gives you a few variations to try. I enjoyed knitting this little dish cloth for practice.

Kay Gardiner is hosting a discussion board where all sorts of fun ideas are floating around. Plus, Karen Templer has been regularly featuring ideas for log cabin projects on the Fringe Association blog. It’s the images at the top of this post that have really captured my imagination. I’m thinking of doing a throw like this in a log cabin version with some combination of speckledy yarns. Maybe. There are so many delicious possibilities. Anyone else thinking of joining in?

That pile of papers isn’t going to grade itself, so I should get going. I’ll just close with a few pictures of the amazing weather we’ve been having. On Thursday Paul and I took Django for a walk, and the world looked like this.

By yesterday, we had this!

I love, love, love the first snow of the year, and this one has been spectacular.

Here’s hoping the weather is nice where you are and, most importantly, that there is lots of knitting in the forecast! Be well, my friends.

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Fall Break 21

Today is day one of my two-day fall break. Despite the mountain of papers waiting to be graded, I was determined to get some knitting in. Not the knit a few rows before bed kind of knitting but some actual soul soothing knitting.

As an extra treat for myself, I thought I’d spend the time not just knitting but finishing. I’ve had my Looped Loop sitting in a basket waiting to be bound off for at least six months. Binding off required Reverse Kitchener Stitch, though, and there just hasn’t been space in my brain for that.

The cool weather we’re having this week seemed like a great reason to take the leap. I must say I was also hoping to have a wonderful story of Reverse Kitchener glory to report.

Oops.

Here is a shot of the kitchenered ends. They’re right in the middle there, a tiny bit to the left of the middle vertical chair rail.

From this distance it looks okay, but honestly, I’m disappointed. I was hoping the join would be truly seamless, and it isn’t. The knit and purl columns don’t line up exactly. Plus, the seam area has virtually no give. Reverse Kitchener is now on my list of things to master, and I’m planning to try Tricksy Knitter’s method next. I’ll report back. If anyone has suggestions, please let me know.

Augie did a close inspection and decided he wasn’t thrilled with the results either.

Despite the Kitchener issues, having a cozy new cowl to wear when I go back to school on Wednesday makes me happy. And the yarn is divine. It’s Dream in Color Smooshy with Cashmere in Rasberry Blaze. Absolute heaven.

The fall weather has also ignited the need to bake. Yesterday’s goodness was Smitten Kitchen’s Jacked Up Banana Bread. It’s the best banana bread evahhhh. We had it for dinner, breakfast, and lunch.

Things continue to be hectic, but I am mostly keeping up with everyone’s posts. I’m sadly behind with commenting but am loving reading about what everyone is up to.

Until next time, be well, my friends. And knit on!

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Help A Knitter Out 10

A couple of weeks ago I went to a class on small fruit trees hosted by our local Master Gardener group. I brought my knitting, of course, and this attracted the attention of a fellow class member. Turns out, this gentleman (my new friend David) had been looking for a knitter. Go figure!

David’s dad was in the service during WW II and spent a good bit of that time wearing the army issue sweater pictured above. Dad eventually passed the sweater along to David who still wears it. ALL THE TIME. (He also wants to learn to knit. We’re both happily married, or you know I would have been a goner.)

Anyhoo, the sweater is clearly a little worse for wear, and David would like to have it repaired. My question for you, friends and knitters of the blogosphere, is what’s the best way to go about such a thing?

This has clearly been machine knit at a very fine gauge, so while I could mend it well enough to stop the unravelling, I’m doubtful that the results would be cosmetically pleasing. I’ve googled hand darning machine knits and all kinds of WW II sweater things, but so far I haven’t come up with a good solution. I feel sure this wheel must have already been invented. Can anyone point me in the right direction?

On the homefront the rain has been unrelenting.

So I’ve decided to sit by the fire and knit until the sun comes out.

Or until I have to wake up and get back to real life. Ha!

Be well, my knitters. And please let me know if you have any advice about how to help David with his sweater.

Meet Franklin! 19

Meet Franklin!

A few Saturdays ago, destiny happened. Paul and I came across a local adoption event and met the orange kitty of our dreams. We’d been open to getting a second cat for a couple of years, ever since Augie showed up on our back porch as a baby and taught us that a cat really could be happy in a house full of dogs. When our eyes met Franklin’s, we knew he was the one.

It was meant to be. He rode the hour and a half home from the adoption event on Paul’s lap.

 

 

And it turns out that he’s devoted to knitting.

 

 

Go figure!

I’m sure he’ll be making frequent appearances here, so I wanted to give him a proper introduction.

In knitting news, I’ve finished Paul’s Tea with Jam and Bread sweater. I’ll post about that soon. The plan is to take pictures one day this week.

And I’ve cast on the Inlet cardigan by Amy Herzog.

 

Do you know about Amy Herzog? I’ve been interested in her and her sweater designs for years. She’s all about sweaters that fit, and one of her mantras is that your pattern should match your gauge and yarn, not the other way around.

When you purchase one of her custom fit patterns, you provide your measurements and the gauge at which you want to knit, and her pattern generator comes up with the specific pattern instructions for your personal sweater.

I’ve always figured there must be something to her method because, unlike with a lot of sweater projects you look at on Ravelry where you see the sweater folded or laid flat or draped over a chair, when you look at the projects for her designs, people are actually wearing them! And they look great!

I cast on last night with some Peace Fleece worsted in the Mourning Dove colorway from my stash. Two words: twisted rib.

 

I might not ever knit plain one-by-one rib again!

Yarn Along 8

I really love the Wednesday Yarn Along. Ginny Sheller hosts this weekly what-you’re-knitting and what-you’re-reading photo op on her blog, Small Things. Stop by for links to what are usually close to a hundred blog posts on the topic. It’s guaranteed to give you a lift.

This week I’m reading If Nights Could Talk, a memoir written by my immensely talented friend Marsha Recknagel. The story reads like a thriller. Marsha is a poet, though, so she writes in a way that constantly startles me by offering up real and important things that I knew, but didn’t know I knew, because I didn’t have words to name them. Every time I come away from reading the book, my world is bigger.

 

 

On the knitting front, I’m onto the sleeves of Paul’s Tea with Jam and Bread sweater and am trying a new thing. I’m knitting seamless sleeves two at a time. I’ve done this a lot with sweaters where the sleeves are knit separately, but it occurred to me that it should work equally well when the sleeves are already attached. It was kind of fiddly at first, but as soon as I got a little length on the sleeves, it evened out, and now I’m really liking it. Does anyone else knit sleeves this way?

 

Randomly, on a Thursday 8

Finns Hat

This has been a banner week for communication. Sometimes it seems impossible to accomplish anything when it involves appealing to far-away people I don’t know for a response. It can feel like my phone calls and emails are just wafting off into the void. The last few days have been different, though.

One communication success didn’t have anything to do with knitting, but I’ll tell you about it anyway. I wanted to express my views on a particular situation to the mayor’s office. I couldn’t find an email address and so resorted to calling, thinking I’d either reach an administrative assistant who’d just mark down my position on a list or, worse, that my call would be routed into voicemail hell. As it turned out, I did have to leave a message, but to my huge surprise, the mayor himself called me back not twenty minutes later! Can you believe it? I was blown away. We talked for about ten minutes. He gave me some suggestions about additional people to contact, and I walked away a happy citizen. Imagine that.

There have been a number of other minor communication successes, but the really fun one you might actually be interested in has to do with knitting. I’m teaching a class on double knitting at the upcoming Knotty Ladies Fiber Retreat on Roan Mountain. I’ve been enjoying poking around trying to figure out how the popularity of the process evolved in recent times, and I kept running into a significant gap.

Double Knitting

There aren’t a ton of resources available on double knitting, but up until the late 80’s, it seems like everything out there proceeded on the assumption that the technique must be accomplished in a particular way. If you know about double knitting, the “way” is with the knit or purl one and then slip one method. This allows you to do things like work a tube with two straight needles or to make a piece of flat knitting that has two layers. It gets the job done, but because it takes two passes to complete each round, it’s slow.

The modern way of doing things is to knit each side (of the tube or of the double-thick flat piece) simultaneously. It’s much quicker and more efficient. I learned this method from Alasdair Post-Quinn. His book and his Craftsy class are amazing resources.

DK Books

Anyway, as I perused some of the earlier explanations of double knitting, I started wondering if Alasdair was the first to use this modern method. Before his book, the most comprehensive examination of the topic was Beverly Royce’s book, Notes on Double Knitting, and she does things the old way.

So I sent Alasdair an email last night via his website and figured, not that that was the end of it, but that it would be at least a week or maybe even a month or more before I heard back. The man has a full-time, non-knitting job, plus he writes and travels all over the place to teach classes.

Well, guess what. First thing this morning, I had an information packed response from him that was just as helpful and nice as you could ever hope to get. It absolutely made my day.

In case you’re still following along with the technical end of this and are interested, the short version of the answer he gave me was that he wasn’t the first to use the modern method, but that the earliest source to which he could trace it didn’t present it with the sort of fanfare you’d expect to accompany a true innovation. This makes him think that someone, somewhere must have introduced this technique before. The other things published around the same time as the article Alasdair mentions and those that immediately precede it all seem to teach the old method, though, so it appears we’ve still got a missing link. But thanks to Alasdair’s terrific response, it’s a little gap in my understanding of the timeline now rather than a massive, gnarly one.

If you’re not interested in double knitting, this is probably a pretty boring blog post. But maybe the take-away can be that, every now and then, reaching out to someone in the public sphere for direction or information can actually produce real results.

Checks and Balances

In other news, I’m still working like a maniac and just getting my knitting in where I can. I’m almost finished with the front of Paul’s Checks and Balances sweater, and then I’ll just need to do the sleeves and join everything together.

I also started a double knit hat for my godson who left for his freshman year at TCU this week. That’s it in the photo at the top of this post. Since there’s about a 101% chance Finn doesn’t read the blog, I’m not at all worried about spoiling the surprise.

Poor Alice is moulting.

Alice

Augie is pretty much living in this blanket pile because of the crazy thunderstorms we’ve been having . . .

Augie

Everyone thinks they’d feel better about the weather if they could mooch some homemade ice cream.

Ice Cream

The garden is winding down.

Bounty

And there were peanut butter cookies.

PB Cookies

That’s it for now. Knit on, my friends!

Wear It Every Day Sweater 6

CPY Sweater 1Behold the Crystal Palace Yarn sweater! Its proper name is He’ll Wear It Every Day (from The Yarn Girls’ Guide to Simple Knits). As you can guess from the pattern name, it’s actually sized for men. I knew it would be a bit big, but I just knit the smallest version and went down a needle size. It’s definitely roomy, but I think it’ll be fine for knocking around.

Crystal-Palace-Yarn-Sweater-2

I found the pattern when I was looking for a quick sweater knit in pieces to remind myself what it was like to knit set-in sleeves. I’m planning a sweater for Paul and was thinking this construction might suit him better than a seamless sweater would. It had been so long since I’d done it, though, that I wanted to find out if it was really as big of a pain in rear as I remembered.

Guess what. It wasn’t!

Since the last time I knit a sweater this way, I’ve discovered Amy Herzog, and I think I must have been channeling her when I did the sleeve caps.

Crystal-Palace-Yarn-Sweater-4

I’m not saying it wasn’t a little tedious, but the shoulder seam makes for such a nice fit that I think it’s worth it. I don’t find nearly as many patterns for sweaters with set-in sleeves as I used to, though, so I’m going to have to do a little looking to choose something for Paul.

Meanwhile I’ve got the never-ending, giant blue rectangle to keep me busy. Surely . . . SURELY, I will finish it today. If I don’t, my next blog post will probably be from the psych ward.

At least when I was working on the infamous blue rectangle this weekend, I had the company of lots of other knitters to keep my spirits up. Our local fiber contingent got together for World Wide Knit in Public day and spent the afternoon knitting outdoors in beautiful Jonesborough.

WWKIP-Day-2016

This picture is of my BFF Cari and me. I say this every year, I think, but we actually MET on WWKIP day four years ago! How’s that for a knitting fairy tale?!

Sleeves and Such 3

Gramps

If it’s okay with you, I’m going to skip the part where I go on and on apologizing for the posting desert the blog has been over the last couple of weeks and get right to talking about sleeves. K? K.

It’s been ages since I’ve knit a sweater with set-in sleeves. I almost always choose the seamless route because I love the idea of being completely finished with the whole thing when I bind off on the last row. As I’ve been dealing with the pile o’ Gramps in my lap lately, though, the idea of knitting the sleeves separately and not having to constantly reposition the sweater body while I’m going around and around on each sleeve has become pretty appealing. I’m actually thinking I might do something with set-in sleeves for Paul’s sweater, which is one of the next projects on my list.

What do you think about sleeves? If any of you have thoughts on sleeve knitting methods, please share them with me. 

Gramps Sleeve

At the moment I’m perusing patterns for a quick sweater for myself to see what I think before I commit to anything for the Paul project which will be a significant investment of knitting time. I’m looking at a couple of patterns by Amy Miller, Put the Kettle On and Sixth Street. I especially love the funky shaped hem of Put the Kettle On. These patterns actually call for you to pick up stitches and knit the sleeves as you go, but I think I could modify them without too much effort for the sleeves-knit-separately route. Both patterns call for bulky weight yarn, so they should be pretty quick knits, important so that I don’t get derailed en route to Paul’s sweater.

Here are a few pictures from the last fiber guild.

Cari Magic

This is lusciousness from my friend Cari. She’s one of the contributors to the April edition of Spinning Box. There are also some insanely gorgeous dyed locks from her Angora goats that I didn’t successfully photograph. She’s turning into one of those dyers whose fiber is like a magic spell—it draws you with the force of thousand magnets to immediately drop everything and spin. Resistance is futile.

And here are the babies:

Cara

PJ

Teddy

And Sidney, ML’s glorious peacock:

Sydney

And here is my tiny forsythia transplant that not only made it through the winter but is actually BLOOMING!!!! Yay, Spring!!

Forsythia

 

Keeping On Keeping On 2

Howdy, knitters! Sorry for the radio silence around here. I’ve been knitting, working, yoga-ing, reading, knitting . . . you know, the usual.

There has been ongoing Geek-A-Long knitting, and the most recent square was a challenge! Check it out:

05 Psychonauts 2

This is the Psychonauts square. See the question marks in the bottom left portion? To make those appear in the right orientation on the opposite side, you have to dip into what’s called “extreme double-knitting.”

Extreme Double-Knitting is a term coined by Alasdair Post-Quinn, and as far as I know, he was the first one to publish anything about how to do it. His book Extreme Double-Knitting: New Adventures in Reversible Colorwork explains the basic principles and shows how a non-reversible double knitting chart might look. He doesn’t go into the technical details about how to actually produce such a chart, however, and I had no idea how to accomplish such a feat.

After a lot of looking and thinking, it seemed like the best thing for me to do would be to try to create the chart in Excel. It took awhile, but I finally managed to figure it out. Here’s the “back” side of the square:

05 Psychonauts 1

I can’t tell you how happy those properly oriented question marks make me. It’s the small things, I guess.

This week’s square is from a game I’ve never heard of called Katamari Damacy. I have no clue what it’s about, but I like the square. I started it during the Super Bowl.

GAL Week 6

The weather here is: snow.

Snow

What’s going on in your knitterly world?

The Travel Shawl 4

Travel Shawl 2

I might be in love with the Travel Shawl.

Folded in half it’s a cozy shoulder wrap.

Travel Shawl 6adj

Opened up, it’s a bigger wrap.

Travel Shawl 3

Or even a small blanket.

Travel Shawl 1

And it’s a fairly quick knit. I knit all but a tiny bit of the beginning and the outer edge during a few weeks in November. 

Travel Shawl 4

This turned out to be a bigger deal than I expected in the discovery department. I’ve knit enough lace to feel like I’m not a total novice, but I hadn’t ever seen a set-up like this. The pattern directions tell you to cast on, give you instructions for an increase round, and then refer you to the first chart: “Begin pattern from Chart A; work Rnds 1-28 once . . .” etc. What you’re just supposed to know is that you have to knit the chart four times to accomplish one round. 

You’re also supposed to know what to do as your stitch count increases. I did not know. 

Thank goodness for Tin Can Knits. A bit of searching brought me to their super helpful explanation of how to read lace charts. It all makes perfect sense once you get the basic idea. You knit the first section of edge stitches for each quadrant and then knit the center, stitch-repeat section as many times as you can while still having enough stitches left to knit the edge stitches at the end. In their words: “. . . you would work the edge stitches one time, then work the ‘repeat’ stitches as many times as possible (always reading the set of instructions from right to left on right side rows), before ending with the edge stitches at the end of row.” Once I understood the logic, I was off and running.

Travel Shawl 7

As I do more lace shawl knitting, I think it’ll be interesting to see how many designers assume their audience knows these things about how lace charts work. In the heat of the moment, I felt a little grumpy about having to search for the information I needed to make sense of the pattern. Now that I have a little distance, I view it more as an interesting question than anything. What basic knowledge and skills should knitters be expected to bring to the average project? It’s absurd to think that every pattern would start from square one, but if a pattern doesn’t start there, then where? 

Travel Shawl 5