Tag: techniques

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

Calligraphy 4

Calligraphy 1I have high hopes for the Calligraphy Cardigan. I’ve been searching for a go-to cardigan pattern, something that’s straightforward to knit, that meets my requirements for a cozy, button-up sweater, and that adapts well to fit different sizes of knitted-gift recipients. So far, Calligraphy is looking good. The yarn I’m using is Peace Fleece DK in Fathers Gray, and as usual with Peace Fleece, it’s very nice to handle and to knit with. I’m hoping to finish the raglan increases this evening.

The big, floppy collar is one of my favorite things about Calligraphy.

Calligraphy 2

And as promised, here are a couple of shots of CeCe. It grew when I blocked it. A LOT. It could be a dress. It would be hard to overstate my ambivalence about the finished sweater. The Madelinetosh Pashmina is luscious, but I’m just not that happy with the sweater.

CeCe Back

The lace pattern itself was fun to knit and not at all difficult to memorize, but some aspects of the sweater’s construction were unfamiliar. This was the first time I’d done lace shaping where I had to figure out the details of the increases and decreases myself. This article from Vogue Knitting (Part 2 in particular) and the discussion of shaping in Stitch ‘n Bitch Superstar Knitting (starting on p. 71) helped a lot. I’m psyched to have gotten  some experience with this technique.

What I’m not so psyched about is the neckband. The pattern has you knit the neckband separately and then attach it. Not only did attaching it turn out to be pretty fiddly, but I never was able to make the transition from the knitted-on section to the sewn-on section look as seamless as I would have liked. It’s kind of hard to tell in this picture, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

I didn’t situate the button very well either as you can see. I think I’d just lost my enthusiasm for the project by the time I got to that point.

CeCe Front

The last thing I’ll say about CeCe is that it’s designed to sit quite far out on the shoulders. I should have realized this before I started and either planned to make adjustments or chosen another pattern because in practice this isn’t an easy style for me to wear.

Sunday 3

DSC 0102 web

 

The wedding afghan is off the needles, and I proclaim it a good knit. It was interesting without requiring a lot of concentration, and I like the finished blanket. And even though I used a wool/acrylic blend (I worry about gifting 100% wool for something that might require regular washing), the feel of it is very nice, kind of heavy and drapey. Plus, I got to try out a new technique for joining yarn—the magic knot. I’ve been searching for a good way to join slicker yarns, and a knitting friend suggested I try this method. It’s perfect! The join is very secure and hardly noticeable at all. Here’s a video that shows how to do it. I can’t wait to use it the next time I’m doing colorwork because it completely eliminates the need to weave in ends!

 

DSC 0100 web

DSC 0106 web

 

In other news, I made a second galette. It turned out much prettier than the first and just as tasty. I think I’m hooked.

 

Galette No 2

 

And during the day today, I sat outside on the porch and worked on work and the second stripey sock. It seemed like a fair arrangement, and I was certainly a happier worker than I would have been sans stripey sock.

 

Sunday Work

 

The next thing I need to decide on the knitting front is what to start as a travel project. We’ll be in the car for half a day going to and from the upcoming wedding. I’m considering the Pi Shawl (which I’ve wanted to knit forevahhhh) in some gorgeous unspun Icelandic, Citron in Malabrigo Lace in the “Amor Intenso” colorway, and the Churchmouse Easy Folded Poncho in Rowan Felted Tweed in “Maritime.” I’ve got the yarn for all of these so just need to decide which will complement CeCe to make the best travel combo. I actually cast on for CeCe on Friday night. Woohooo!

The other thing I did this weekend was finish listening to the audiobook version of A Deadly Wandering: A Tale of Tragedy and Redemption in the Age of Attention. The book is by Matt Richtel, who won a Pulitzer for the reporting he did on distracted driving, and I think it’s an absolutely essential read. It explains recent findings in neuroscience that are in the same league as what Laurance Gonzales presents in terms of scope and impact. The fascinating bottom line is that our ability to pay attention is not unlimited. Who knew???

Research is showing that no matter how smart you are or how hard you try, if you are human, you simply cannot pay attention to two things at once. You can go back and forth, but as Richtel shows, that is not at all the same thing. The anchor for the book is the story of Reggie Shaw, a 19-year-old whose texting while driving resulted in a wreck that killed two rocket scientists. In telling Reggie’s story, the book covers the science of attention going all the way back to World War II and stretching forward up to the moment the book was published in 2014. It’s a great read, and it reveals things about the way the brain works that blew me away.

And last but not least, weekend news revealed this. Whew!

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