Monday, June 26, 2006

Process vs Product

Annie left me a comment (about how "productive" a knitter I was) which set me to thinking.

There's been quite a lot of discussion on the various knitting lists (I can't believe it was on the KnitLost, but it was) about the question "Are you are product knitter or a process knitter?"

I've always thought of myself as a process knitter but I do seem to end up with a large number of finished products, so perhaps we are asking the wrong question.

What then are the key identifiers of the process knitter?

- not terribly interested in the finished product I certainly qualify here - while I usually do finish projects, I often wear them once, or not at all, or give them away;

- happy to frog/tink to get it right (even if no-one knows it's "wrong"). Again, I'm in - I do like to get it "right".

- always messing about with needles and yarn, unable to answer the question, "What are you knitting?", because not actually knitting anything, just playing - can I shape this with short rows? Can I make this lace pattern work? How many decreases do I have to do to make this curve lie flat? Will this border curl if I use this stitch? and this one? I'm the world's worst - there's always some few stitches on a needle sticking out of the knitting basket, often in a truly horrendous colour/yarn (I often wonder if I am struck with colour blindness combined with a complete lack of good taste when I enter a yarn shop - purple eyelash? white ack-rylic with pink bobbles? doggy doo-doo coloured stuff?)

- often chooses a project because it uses a new (to this knitter) technique/intriguing shaping/special finishing/never-before-used yarn, even. Case in point the Silk Corset from Annie Modesitt - loved the design and construction, have worn it once;

and the product knitter?

- wants to knit an item which contains a new technique - sets out to learn the technique;

- often knits the same pattern, again and again. The classic socks; the plain raglan/yoke pullover/cardigan; the hats (often for charity); same shawl; same baby blanket. I'm not denigrating this in any way but it's just not for me - I hate knitting the same pattern twice. I did it with both Birch and Frost and Ice and it's testament to the skill of Sharon Miller, the designer of both, that I didn't end up slitting my wrists;

- almost always finishes a project, and, I suspect, is a one-project-at-a-time sort of knitter. Well, we all know this isn't me;

I don't really like the either/or dichotomy inherent in the original question. I don't think I'm an either/or. I think I'm mostly a process knitter but partly a product knitter and that the proportions of each change all the time - from project to project, often within the same project.

There was also some mention of the process knitter being considered (or considering herself) to have more value - to be more of a "craftsman". I think that's a load of solid spheres. People knit for all sorts of reasons and no reason is more "valid" or has more intrinsic worth than the next one.

You knit because it helps you not smoke/eat/bite your nails/yell at your nearest and worst? Good for you.

You knit because you want to clothe yourself/your nearest and best in something that you made yourself? Good for you.

You knit because you can? Good for you.

You knit because, like Everest, it's there? Good for you.

You knit because it makes you feel connected to all those women of the past - knitting in the dark; by the light of a candle or lamp; on the plains; in the highlands; on the fells; in your country and in others; the quick ones and the slow ones; the ones who hated it but had to do it; the ones who loved it; and the ones who did it for love.

I've knitted for all these reasons in the past (and no doubt will in the future, too) and there's nothing wrong with that.

Knit on, ladies. (Don't be offended if you are a knitting man - you're a knitter, that's what counts.)

Apologies for a photo-less post. Two reasons - everything looks very much as it did before but a bit bigger/longer and Blogger is playing up. I am getting increasingly ticked off with Blogger and its temperamental hissy fits. I hope you can now see the picture of Beelzebub from my last post - the sequence went: delete picture;(upload picture, check picture, look at lack of picture,delete picture) three times; throw in towel.

Bah, humbug!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Look who's back!

Beelzebub has made a reappearance - after a week's leave of absence. I don't know where s/he's been, I don't know what s/he's been doing but here we are:

stretching out on the grass.

I've managed to get another couple of photograph albums up - I'm quite impressed with the ease of use of Picasa Web Albums - pity Blogger isn't quite so simple. Editing my template to make the albums easy of access was a nightmare and I'm still not satisfied with the look of it but let's hope you can at least click on the links and look at the pictures. Let me know!

I've been working on the interminable edging of the Garden Shawl - I suppose I've got half a side, one corner and the whole of another side to go. I am, of course, suffering from my usual complaint at this stage of the game - I want to finish it but I don't want to let it go. Made all the worse, in some ways, by the fact that this is for my knitbud in America and so I really will have to "let it go". Of course, she's already fulfilled her part of the bargain - I got my shawl from her quite a while ago.

The Kimono Jacket has got a bit bigger, too. I'm still not to the point of casting on the extra stitches for the front and back though.

One last thing: if you read this blog you are probably aware that lace knitting is my real love. Two lace knitters, who I "know" from various Yahoo knitting groups, Laritza Taft & Susan Reishus, have started a Yahoo group specifically to make a concerted effort to persuade Burda to republish the lace patterns of Herbert Niebling. (There are some examples of his beautiful designs on Michael Kaprelian's site here.) If you have any interest in lace knitting whatsoever, I urge you to pop over and join this group - have no fear, it's not a discussion group, there will be no discussion of copyright law and all whatnot - it's simply a pressure group. Eventully, they are hoping to organize a mass snail-mail/email campaign and the more members the better, so get on over there. I have, in fact, already sent a snail-mail to Burda asking about this very thing. Needless to say, I received no reply!

And yes, I am feeling very much better. Thanks for all your good wishes.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

I've done it!

I'm still at home and I'm still wheezing. It's not getting better as fast as I thought it would, so I've been back on to the quack and she's given me more pills.

However, it does mean that I have been able to get on with something I've been meaning to do for ages, which is get a "Finished Objects" Gallery up. (Link in the sidebar, down the bottom there.) Good old Google have come up with the new improved Picasa and it seems pretty easy to use. Famous last words, probably - go and have a look and could someone (or more than one) let me know if it's working and what you think?

Please ignore all references to "More pictures in the xxx album" in the comments I've left - I haven't actually got round to that bit yet. It still takes ages to upload pictures - well, it does on my slow as treacle dial-up.

I've also been working on the Kimono - no picture though - it's just like the other half. Use your imagination.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Enforced Knitting

The hayfever struck me down again, as it normally does at this time of year. I managed to get to the quack and get all potioned up just before the cut-off point of "Go directly to hospital, do not pass go, do not collect £200."

So I narrowly escaped a spell in hospital and, as you can imagine the breathing isn't great but the best bit of all was that the doctor told me to go home, sit down and knit. I followed her advice to the letter.Result is that I'm rattling from all the pills, sniffing from the dreaded nasal spray, puffing into the peak flow meter what seems like every five minutes and I've finished the first half of the Kimono Jacket:

I can't say I really follow the instructions but I did what it said and it seems fine.

Here's a shot where I tried to capture the "shadow" effect:

There has been little lace knitting done, since all the medications makes my head feel like it's full of cotton wool so I absolutely do not want to run the risk of having to tink or, worse still, frog.

The border of the Garden shawl has not progressed by one stitch, the Burda tablecloth is languishing on the table.

Attack of the Killer Cat? Beelzebub has not been seen all weekend - 'im indoors got out of doors and mowed the wilderness that we laughingly refer to as a "garden" - there is nowhere to hide, which could have something to do with it. Or maybe he's just gone away for a few days of holiday.

I am getting better but it's a slow job.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Yes, I think Beelzebub and I have come to an understanding. I have told him (her?) that s/he is very welcome to stay in the shed but not in the house. I came home this afternoon to find this:

Beelzebub, lurking in the shed, sated with rabbit. "Are you feeding it?" they asked me. Of course I'm not, but since my garden is rabbitopolis...Let's just say it's a happy hunting ground. No hunter worth his salt could possibly go hungry in my garden.

In knitting news, I have started the shaping for the front of the Kimono Jacket. The garment is made in two pieces from cuff to centre back. The two halves are then grafted together. (I predict wine and chocolate in copious amounts.) The fronts have a deep v-neck, which is shaped with short rows.

I just love short row shaping - it's so neat. Oftentimes the stitches are wrapped (see this article in Knitty if you have no idea what I'm on about) but in this case, we don't do that. No, we knit to the right spot, turn, do a yarn over and carry on. When it comes to knitting on the band, we knit the yo together with the following stitch, which is a slightly different technique but should do the trick (which is to close up any holes that might be present.)

Here's a close-up of the yos:

Also note the bonny beaded safety pin. Once, long ago, I threaded beads onto very many safety pins, threaded the whole lot onto thin elastic and made a fancy bracelet, or two. Instructions are here, if you are bothered. Or, if you have more money than sense (or a well-developed "hip and zen" sense of altruism) you can buy one here.

Lace knitting has not completely stopped:

I've gone "round the bend" on the Garden Shawl again. The border is knitted in garter stitch lace, patterned only every other row. Each time you come up to the body of the shawl, you take the last stitch of the border with the next live stitch of the body of the shawl. That's all very well but you do need to ease the border round the corners. Normally, each 14 row repeat of the border takes up 7 live stitches from the body of the shawl. However, the corner section consists of 17 live stitches and has three 14 row repeats. Obviously, you need to work some rows without taking up a live stitch from the body of the shawl.

This all sounds as clear as mud - even to me, and I've just done it - but I think you can see what I mean here:

So, I'm still knitting, still blogging, still coping with a killer cat - is there no end to my talents? Posted by Picasa

Friday, June 09, 2006

The Curse of the Lace Knitter

is the dental floss complex:

This is the Burda tablecloth about round 55. It looks like the monkey got in amongst the dental floss. Here's a close-up of part of it:

Notice the bit that looks like a cable? It is a cable! I love that idea. There have been no more mistakes in the chart, but I'm still keeping my wits about me. The soy silk is lovely to knit with - silky yet "grabby" (technical term) at the same time, with a slight halo that I find very attractive. My only complaint is about the colour. In the photographs it looks cream but in reality it's much more yellow than that - it looks like a caffe latte (or a "latte macchiato" if we're being strictly accurate/pedantic). I wonder about the possibility of dyeing the finished work. If anyone has any experience of dyeing soy silk, speak up - as Dr Frasier Crane would say, "I'm listening".

But a knitter can't live by lace alone (not least because there is no way this is TV knitting), so there are other things on the go.

The fronts of the bolero are coming along:

I am going to run out of yarn. Another trip to the LYS is indicated. At least the yarn is so variegated that I don't think a difference in dye lot will be noticed.

The Kimono Jacket continues apace:

Now, this is TV knitting, so quite a bit should be accomplished this weekend, while watching the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Formula 1 is great for knitting. (no, I won't be watching the football!)

That's a (non-comprehensive) round up of the WIPs. Monogamous? Moi?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Remember the tablecloth pattern from the Burda magazine? Remember the difficulties I was having at the beginning? Well, by dint of using the chart as a suggestion, rather than following it to the letter, and by peering at the picture with a magnifying glass, and by using my native wit and low cunning, I have succeeded in producing this:

This is round 23 and, while I hadn't at that stage reached the point where I could follow the chart blindly, I have certainly made some progress. I am now at round 35 and finally the chart actually corresponds to the stitches on the needle.

However, because the chart was so wrong at the beginning, I really don't trust it, so I shall be keeping a sharp eye out for any further problems.

Here's a close-up of the start:

It looks a bit wobbly (technical term) but I am relying on the blocking, that saviour of many a lace-knitter, to sort it all out. Fingers firmly crossed here.

I have also finished the back of the bolero thingie:

It is very hard on the hands, so I can only work on it in short bursts. It is also positively eating yarn - far from this being a project to reduce the stash, it will probably turn out that I will need to buy more yarn. Which means I have to go to the yarn shop. Which means temptation will be all around me.

Is there a 12-step programme for the yarnaholic?

Should I be thinking about joining up?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Has the world gone mad?

I don't know what the world's coming to, I really don't.

Not only have I acquired a cat (s/he's very well, thanks for asking. It brought me a rabbit this morning. This is worrying news. It obviously feels I need to be impressed. Not so.) but I have done two swatches in two days. I have also posted twice in two days. The apocalypse cannot be far behind.

This is the swatch I made from the Giotto that had been the ill-fated cardigan (which we, in our house, always pronouce "car-dig-an" because that's the way #1 daughter said it the first time she read it. We are not, as you may have guessed, big car-dig-an wearers.):

I'm hoping this is going to be that bolero/jacket thingie I told you about the other day.

Naturally, the loose woman is not using the 15mm (!) needles suggested. I thought about 10mm but only had straights in that size. Straights I really, really don't like. I use circular needles for almost everything these days - knitting round and round (obviously) but also knitting back and forth. I just like them better. The weight is sitting in your lap and not moving from side to side with every row, causing a strain on the wrists, the arms, the back, everything. I tell you, when you get to my venerable years, strain is anathema. So the nearest size circs were the good old Addi 9mms. What do you know? The stitch gauge is bang on. The row gauge is not so far off (10 rows/10cm against the 8rows requested). I am up and running. I might have to make some adjustments in the rate of increase for the sleeves but the rest of it is plain sailing.

Which is more than can be said for the beginning of the tablecloth:

I managed fine with the skinny (technical) yarn - it's the soy silk that Kiki sent me - and Emily Ocker's circular start. ( I'm not going to give a link to that again. Google is your friend.) I did fine up to round 5, where I ended up with 48 sts, as per the chart. Next instruction tells me to knit rounds 6-10. No mention of any increasing. I just did what it said. I've still got a total of 48 sts at this stage. Round 11 turns out to require 60 sts. I am 12 stitches adrift, through no fault of my own. Further investigation reveals that I can fudge it here but later on will come up against the same problem. I forebore from throwing the thing across the room because, in my experience, that can cause the stitches to unaccountably fly off the needles. I have set it, gently, down on the table and left it to ruminate on its faults. We shall see if it is more contrite in the morning.

Finally, the secret can be revealed. It's my not-a-Barbie sister-in-law's birthday tomorrow (which is technically today). Earlier on I went to see her and gave her the present I had made for her. This was partly because I didn't know what her plans for tomorrow/today were, and partly because I just couldn't wait to give it to her and see if she liked it as much as I did.

She liked it:

Close up of the button - the one the chap in the shop gave to me:

Here's the back (because as #1 daughter said, "It looks like you're wearing a cardigan." and I wouldn't want to give anyone the wrong impression):

It's basically a glorified scarf with a button on it. It's not rocket science.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

So I didn't make an arse of myself?

Thank you all very, very much. I have just got my paws (no pun, there are no puns here) on the June issue of "Simply Knitting", wherein I get a mention in the "Blogs (the not-so-secret diaries of the knitting world)" section. Did I ask you to tell me if I made an arse of myself? Did anyone bother to tell me, "Yes"?

No, not one of you. Now, I know that I have readers all over the world (you know who you are), who can't possibly have seen this particular magazine, but I also know I have many readers here in the UK and some of you must have seen it.

Let's just deconstruct for a moment. What did I say? I said (and I quote from the magazine) I tried to post "every other weekday". What did anyone see, if they bothered to look? They saw that I hadn't posted since May 8th!!

I don't know why. I was on a break? I'm back now anyway, so yah, boo, sucks to them.

What else did I say? I said - quotes again - "Someone said to me 'I like your blog because it's about knitting and it doesn't have a cat in it.' That's my favourite comment ever. Lots of knitters have cats. I don't have a cat, I'm allergic to them!"

So, I definitely didn't make an arse of myself then?

That's Beelzebub (as 'im indoors has christened him/her) sitting, at ease, in the armchair. There is the blue knitted cushion in the background, so I suppose it still counts for "knitting content". At least I won't get kicked off the Knitlost/list.

The real knitting content follows.

I have worked 12 inches on the border of the GS shawl today. There is no picture because it just goes on and on. When you think it's stopped going on, it goes on a bit more.

I have worked a swatch. Those of you who are new to the blog will think nothing of it, the rest of you will be lying down in a darkened room by now.

This is a close-up of the raw silk purchased during Wednesday's stash enhancement trip. Worked on 5mm needles and came out to be 11.5sts and 22 rows to the 10cm. Here it is from further away:

Yes, I know that's not 10cm in length - I extrapolated. I don't do swatches, I do big words.

It's a very nice looking fabric. However, since I only have 200g of it (340m in total) I think I'm going to have to get creative.

I'm thinking knitted quite tightly and making an evening bag, maybe in a moss/seed stitch pattern. I'm thinking knitted very, very loosely to make a scarf/wrap thingie (technical, very technical), maybe with a few yos - let's face it, yos are my speciality. So what do you think? What can I do with this almost edible silk? Answers on a postcard. Or you could always email, or leave a comment.

I'm wheezing, he's comfortable:

He's going out, any minute now, and I'm going to bed. Posted by Picasa

Friday, June 02, 2006

Lightbulb moment

While I was in Italy, I bought a knitting magazine. There are several pretty patterns in it and I quite like the look of this jacket/bolero thingie (technical term):

The yarn required is Schachenmayr "Goa", a ribbon yarn, used double on 15mm needles -like that's going to happen for the loose woman over here. Investigation (Google really is your friend) revealed the bad news - "This yarn has been discontinued and is no longer available." Then I suddenly bethought myself that I still had the gazillion balls of Colinette "Giotto", unravelled from the poxy moss stitch (I believe you chaps across the pond call this "Seed stitch") cardigan, which I never liked because the fabric was too floppy (technical term) and just had no shape whatsoever. Here it is lanquishing on the carpet:

But would it work? Yardage for the Goa is 75m/50g. Yardage for the Giotto? 156yds/100g. Why do they do that? What is it about yarn companies in this country (though the US is not immune) that they have to mix imperial and metric measurements in the same breath? Don't get me started.

Anyway, a few sums later: 156yards is 142m. That's for 100g, don't forget. 142m divided by 2 gives us 71m/50g. Which looks to me to be pretty darned close. I reckon it will work. I will, of course, have to do a swatch. I cannot imagine that I will be using 15mm needles. I might start with a 10mm and see how I get on, but will not be at all surprised to find myself using a 7mm or something even smaller. We shall see.

Update on the cat (which some say is a kitten)? It has, as 'im indoors put it, succeeded in taking over our lives. It is now, even as I write, installed in the armchair of 'im indoors. I really, really like the idea of being adopted. I feel I have arrived, both as a mother and a knitter but (and it is a huge but) am allergic to cats. They make me sneeze and wheeze and cause reddening of the eyes and general all-round misery. I really can't have a cat. I don't know what to do! I don't wish the animal any ill but I don't want to be ill either.

It's a dilemma all right. Posted by Picasa