Tuesday, October 30, 2007

More Socks

For all my protestations about not really liking knitting socks, I have been most taken by the Rainbow Socks. My first pair, in pink, for me, have hardly been off my feet since they came off the needles. I have embarked on a second pair, for 'im indoors.

This time I decided that it would be perfectly possible to knit the socks toe-up, which I much prefer, since it means you can knit and knit until there is no yarn left (or until you get fed up with it, whichever is the sooner.) I decided on short row toes, it seemed most in keeping with the rest of the sock (and also means there is no grafting to be done. When you are done, you are done.) I looked to the ever reliable Knitty and found the equally reliable Wendy Johnson, who has created a tutorial specially for people like me, who like to read about all the possible ways of doing a thing; about the pitfalls of doing a thing; about how other people have done the thing; about how not to do the thing; before actually doing the thing. Short row toe was accomplished in, well, short order.

Short row heel, ditto:

'Im indoors has the highest instep of anyone I have ever known and in the past short row heels just wouldn't work. He couldn't get them "round the bend". This time, I decided that I am in charge of my knitting and the business of using half the total number of stitches for the heel would not do. I therefore used 42 stitches, out of a total 72 and it worked a treat.

I've had to modify the pattern somewhat. The original calls for 60 stitches (which is what I used for mine) and the short row sections work out perfectly. Someone on Ravelry said the pattern was a 10 stitch repeat, so I thought I'd be OK with 70 stitches for this larger sock. Well, it's not a 10 stitch repeat. It's actually a repeat of 8 stitches plus 4 - so 60 works, 68 would work and 74 would work. However, 74 stitches really would make the sock too baggy (technical term), so 72 it is and a slight fudge on the points of the diamonds.

I don't think you can see the fudge:

I've been trying to knit from my stash this year. I haven't sworn off buying yarn but I have tried to be "careful". In my rummagings behind the sofa the other day, I came upon some Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran.

There are four balls of a sort of aubergine colour and four of a pale pink. I've obviously started various things but nothing has worked out. I have no idea why I bought this yarn in the first place - it's far too fat (tt) for me but it's soft and squidgy (tt) and it wants to be something. But what?

Three balls (plus about four yards) of the aubergine has turned into Evelyn Clark's Flower Basket Shawl. I know that the original yarn is a lace weight (Misti International Laceweight Baby Alpaca) but the yarn is used double and the gauge is 16sts and 24 rows to 10cm in stocking stitch. The gauge given on the ball band for the Cashmerino Aran is 18sts and 24 rows, which is about right. I rattled it off in no time - started on Sunday, finished today, Tuesday. She is unblocked at present and looks fearfully small but I think she will grow in the blocking.

Here's a close-up of one of the baskets:

and here's the whole thing, looking slightly sorry for herself but just you wait. The Ugly Duckling will turn into a Swan - I just know it.

I'm still no further forward on which shawl to knit next - I need something to get my teeth into (but not something that is biting off more than I can chew). One of Dorothy Siemens' patterns? Something by Hazel Carter? maybe Alcazar? If I can't find anything I want to knit at Blackberry Ridge, I think it's time to hang up my needles.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Double Done

Two posts in two days? Two FOs in two days? The former might have something to do with the latter.

The Rona Shaw is finished:

Vital Statistics:

Yarn: Blue and pink Atkinson Yarn Illusion Jacinthe (i.e. Unknown)

Source: "Boutique" aka Charity/Thrift Shop

Pattern: Rona Lace Shawl from Knitpicks

Needles: 3.25 circulars

Started: 8th September 2007

Finished: 17th October 2007

Diameter: 60 inches

Weight: 161g

This is a lovely pattern to knit.

The Rainbow Socks are also done:

I never had so much trouble with a pair of socks in my life. I had to use lifelines and I ripped several sections of both socks back. I don't really know what the problem was (apart from crass stupidity on my part). I did extensive research on short row techniques and I still wasn't satisfied with the outcome. Eventually, I settled on this technique. I found that passing the lifted wrap over the turning stitch made for a neater, less holey (tt) finish than any other method, as you can see from the short row heel:

Though I used the yarn she specifies, I think these socks would look better if the stripes were narrower so if (and that's a great big IF) I ever knit these socks again I'd probably use Regia mini ringel or something else with skinny (tt) stripes.

Many thanks to Mary-Lou for her correspondence on short rows, without which I'd probably never have finished the fearful things and certainly would have less hair than at present.

So now I'm in that post- finishing valley where I can't decide what to knit next. Yes, I know - there's the Kauni; the Japanese shawl; the Burda tablecloth; a sock for 'im indoors; the flu virus; Fulmar; the Mermaid; the Wedding Ring Shawl. All WIPs, all right here in my living room. But nothing's really shouting "Knit me, knit me"

What shall I do?


Oh, nearly forgot. Back Field Saturday on a Monday, just for a change:

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Time Passing

Time passing? Time has passed. No, Suzanne, I'm not still lying down in the darkened room (though I feel as if I am). I seem to be knitting in the black hole again. I knit every day. I knit for at least two hours every day and most days I knit for longer. You would think, therefore, that the needles would be smoking (good job I'm not fond of bamboo needles) and the FOs would be flying off the needles. It just doesn't seem to be happening that way and I can't, for the life of me, work out why. I have obviously warped the space-time continuum once again.

There has been some progress, I suppose. The Rona Shawl is finished, though she remains unblocked. I have to wait for the weekend when #1 daughter's bedroom, which has the largest floor space, is available for stretching (the shawl) and crawling about (me). Strangely, she appears to me "more than a circle". That's not a problem, all the better really, since it means the shawl will stay on my shoulders better, but I was surprised - I thought I was making a circular shawl. All may change in the blocking stage, of course.

Here's the centre of the shawl:

hanging on the washing line.

Here's a view of the centre flower:

(she's still on the washing line).

Here's a slightly dodgy (technical term) view of the whole thing:

Blocked pictures/vital statistics when the blocking happens.

I also started some socks. Yes, I know - I like the idea of knitting socks (and wearing them) much more than the actual fact of the matter. These socks are different. They are the Rainbow Socks from Magknits and were called to my attention by a certain person, who shall remain nameless but she knows exactly who she is and she has a lot to answer for.

(Not the best picture. I'll try to get a better one later.)

Short rows are used to create the "crazy stripes". I thought I was proficient in short rows after my adventures with Nona's Japanese Short Row Tutorial. What could be simpler? Ha! Think again, clever clogs. I can knit the most complex of lace (see above); I can knit stranded colour work (see the Kauni); I can knit complex cables (see Fulmar); can I knit a simple, short row sock? Not without a great deal of difficulty. I have even resorted to a life-line (a life-line! I ask you! I haven't even got a life-line in the Wedding Ring Shawl!) I don't know what it is about this sock but it's not the easiest thing in the world to do.

I started off using the Japanese short rows (with the safety pins) but soon got fed up with that. I tried it without the safety pins but really wasn't sure if I was picking up the correct loop. I tried the yarn over method. That left holes and loose bits and just looked a mess. I've settled on my own method. I wrap the yarn right around the needle fairly snugly and then knit that snug loop together with the wrapped stitch when I next come to it. The sock still looks a bit "bobbly" (tt) but I'm hoping that the very wearing of it will cause a "mini-blocking" and even out a multitude of sins. We shall see.

I'm also taking part in the Anne (with an "e") of Green Gables Knit and Read along. I first read these books as a child but re-read them at the beginning of this year, when I was so ill. Even though I'm a knitter, I hadn't realised just how much knitting content is in the books. Imagine my surprise when on the very first page of the very first book we find, "Mrs Rachel (...) knitting 'cotton warp' quilts." I haven't a clue what a "cotton warp" quilt is. I've googled and come up with very little apart from someone on the Yesterknits message board, who tells us that "Cotton warp is a kind of cotton thread. It's used for the warp threads in weaving. It is about the same weight as a sport weight woolen (sic) yarn." I don't think I've got the fortitude to knit a whole quilt (and I certainly don't have time to do so), which leaves me with the problem of deciding on an Anne-inspired project.

On another note, I saw an awesome bag the other day. I accosted the bag-holder and discovered that it was made by Elbo. I think these would look good in a knitted fabric. I know that Anne came with "a shabby, old-fashioned carpet bag" but maybe, when the bag was new, it looked a little bit like one of these? (Without the bow, perhaps?) Over to the drawing board, I think.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I cut the sleeve steek

and I've been lying down in a darkened room ever since.

That's not true - I've just been busy, what with one thing and another. There has been some knitting, though.

I finished the neck shaping on the Kauni. We haven't actually tried it on 'im indoors yet but it looks like it will fit:

I considered knitting twice the height of the neckband and folding it over to form a hem but the recipient didn't seem to want this, so I didn't do it. (His wish is my command.)

I did, indeed, cut the sleeve steek and, considering it was eight thirty in the morning, I didn't even have recourse to the wine and chocolate (although a certain amount of deep breathing did go on.) I have only ever made one jumper with steeks before - that was my Fearless Fair Isle. On that occasion, I cut the steek and then folded the raw edges under and slip stitched it down. This time I haven't bothered with that because I don't think it's really necessary. This is probably a case of "famous last words", as the whole thing unravels the first time it's worn. I'm hoping not.

Progress on the first sleeve:

The problem of how to match up the two sleeves, if at all, I have left to a later date.

Here's the inside:

See how the cut part is curling to the inside anyway?

I've also done more knitting on the Rona Shawl. She is as un-photogenic as most lace is while it's on the needles:

I suppose I could thread a long string through all the stitches, take her right off the needles and lay her out for a photo call but I really can't face it at the moment. I tried to do the best I could here:

The Mermaid is "resting". I still haven't grown another arm so am unable to show you the beading process and take photographs at the same time. We will have to wait until #1 daughter photographer can be pressed into service

The Japanese shawl, the Burda tablecloth, the WRS are all on the back burner at the moment. (I really don't know what I've been doing with my time - could it be something to do with two children and a job, perhaps?)

I have, however, been flittering (technical term) about the internet and came upon Nona's marvellous tutorial about "Improvisational Knitting". This appears to be similar to the freeform knitting described by Prudence Mapstone, amongst others, as well as the swirl knitting described by Debbie New in her "Unexpected Knitting".

However, the improvisational knitting is much more to my taste, being a little more structured than either of the above techniques. I like the idea of free form knitting (in the same way that I like the idea of knitting socks) but what I end up with tends to look like a jumbled mess. (Although I did have some success with the yellow flower based on ideas in Debbie New's book.) I have made me a swatch:

Very nice, too. I don't know what I'm going to do with it but it looks good.

Ann-at-work has finally finished the "secret object" and all can now be revealed. Her boyfriend is just about to set off for the Antarctic, so she has knitted him a hat (in Regia sock yarn, colour "Arctic", would you believe.)

Considering she didn't know one end of a knitting needle from the other a few short weeks ago, I am very, very proud of her. She can now cast on, knit, purl, work in ribbing, K2tog and use two circular needles together to make a small circumference. (Of course, she had a good teacher!)

Here are the finishing touches being added:

(Do not concern yourself about the many bottles in the background - we don't live in a bar, we just work there.)

Here is the finished object:

Well done, Ann-at-work!