Friday, December 21, 2007

4:30 Friday

Think I have a chance to have a finished sweater by Tuesday?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Durrow Frustrations (and New Yarn!)

Ah, Durrow. So lovely, so fraught with troubles. After a 6 month hiatus for gauge change issues under the couch, still you do not cooperate.

The good thing about doing both sleeves at the same time is that the gauges are the same (these are actually the same length!), and what you do to one, you do to the other. The bad thing is when you do the same wrong thing to each!! After a couple of minor rip-backs, I've just discovered I took the raglan shaping too far, and have to pull back the last 10 rows or so on both to correct it. Sigh. I will do this now, since taking a break obviously isn't solving the problem!!

With better news (at least so far):

Yum. Cascade 220 colour#2410. Newly arrived for the start of FIL's cardigan (commissioned!). I got the whole bag (10 skeins) just in case - cables eat yarn - but I may be putting a ballwinder and swift much higher up on my priority list after hand winding 2200 yards!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Speedy Crochet

... or "How many ways can you make warm slippers?"

Count 'em:
1 corrugated single crochet sole

2 corrugated single crochet soles (with an added layer of felted sweater in between)

and a top to keep it on the foot!

Verdict: three layers is working better at keeping the cold from seeping through to my feet, but not quite perfect yet...

Stop me when I handcraft Sorrels!

(base pattern (top altered) from here)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Wardrobe Staple

... and the end to the going-on-forever vest! It's not an exciting colour, the materials were nasty to work with, but I think the end result is something that will end up with a lot of use:

It's sitting in soapy water at the moment in an attempt to de-dust the wool, and perhaps get a little blocking in there too! A conditioner rinse will do a final stab at making the wool less prickly, but I'm thinking this is going to have to be an over-something-always kind of vest.

A pleasant surprise - the side seams didn't disrupt the bottom or midriff bands nearly as much as I feared! Of course I found a 4mm circular in time for the neck and sleeve edgings... Ah, well, what can you do?

Details: pattern based on pictures of Stephanie Japel's Back-to-school U-Neck Vest (from Fitted Knits), so there are extensive modifications (see previous posts!); 4mm needles and two strands of coned wool from VV, ~22sts/4"

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The End of the Eternal Socks

I like to have a portable project to make wait times seem a lot shorter. Bus stops, grocery checkouts, etc. Used to get quite a lot done this way when I commuted! But these days, getting out happens less often, and twisty bus routes + knitting = nausea - needless to say the time spent on these projects is now a shadow of it's former glory.

These socks were started early last year, I can't remember exactly when! April? June?

(Lace Wings Fixation Socks - as usual, NOT made in the recommended yarn)

Very cute little lace anklets. Right now they are in the "gift" drawer, just in case. If they aren't needed, then they'll be on my feet in the new year!!

Details: followed the pattern exactly, made with the reclaimed navy blue wool that has made so many socks and hats the last couple of years, 2.25mm (US1) needles. I'd probably change the heel to my version, and switch it to toe up if I were to do it again. The lace is similar to the Hedera socks from Knitty, without the Ktbl posts in between.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


In this post, we introduce Brigit Daphne. When I was 8, she was drink-and-wet-doll extrodinaire. Now she's an oh-so-cute baby wear model!

Not quite big enough for the 6-12mos size, but certainly better than the very large headed bear that has taken up residence on the couch.

See Brigit in this fall's gorgeous midnight navy:

here, sporting a ruffled baby hat based on the concept outlined here, but with the numbers redone for my gauge, for a hat with the finished size of 15" around and 7" tall.

And in this bonnet style, showing the unruliness of her bedhead (or trunk-head!), and how small she is! The bonnet was made with a 1940's Beehive pattern, on size 2.75mm (US2) needles.

What I loved about the bonnet pattern (besides being a bonnet - why are these not available anymore? They are so cute!), is that it's pretty much a garter stitch pattern. Only one purl row out of 8. Yet looks so fancy!

And something that shouldn't have shocked me, but it did - high production values didn't carry over into accurate patterns. There were a couple of major errors in this one!

These have already made it over to the little lady who looked so amazing in the Pea Pod set. Those eyes were made for wearing blue!

(on Brigit's shoulders, you can just make out the first sweater (a cardigan!) I ever made - I can't remember exactly, I might have been 13 or 14 at the time!)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Toasty Toes

At long last, my feet have a barrier between them and a very cold floor! The little stretchy valour ballet-style slippers just weren't helping.

After a long, long search for really warm materials (down, sheepskin), have found the fleece & denim version to be as warm as it gets (either people around here hang on to their warm stuff until it falls apart, or they are all "true Canadians", and don't need that stuff! There's nothing at the second hand shops!!).

Then came the scarey part - no pattern, and not enough fabric to do it twice. The sole was easy (I traced around my foot, added some ease, then rounded everything off to make it symmetric). The top required a combination of draping with the fabric and with the paper pattern (because I could mess around with the paper). Mostly molding them over my foot which was on top of the already cut sole, then tracing around where the paper/fabric hit the edges of the sole. My tummy was a little sore after all that bending over, but it turned out I only had to do a little trimming at the sewing machine!

I may take the sides in a little more (after I test them out with the big wooly socks), or I may leave that to Version II.

Denim outer, fleece inner, bound with denim bias tape (from the outside of the vest).

And, yes, my toes are toasty, thank you very much!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Haven't Had Much to Report

It gets to be a problem this time of year - even when you have the time to knit, it's often Secret Knitting (my sister does occasionally read this blog!!). So there may end up being a parade of pics in January. So far the parade being one photo, since my holiday knitting seems to be 3 months behind, but still! Those who have a Ravelry account can check out the pics on my ("tumblina") project page.

The U-Neck Vest is getting a little farther ahead anyway.

(back is done, front almost up to the armpits)

I did get the Fitted Knits book from the library last week (brand new copy I think!), and it was interesting to compare Stephanie Japel's original design with what I came up with looking at the pics (and knowing my own figure).

- her's is in the round, which I wanted mine to be, but you deal with the tools ya got

- they are (likely) both the exact same length (a little hard to tell with the crimping effect of the bottom and midriff bands) - how's that for coincidence?

- she put a large increase section in with the bust darts (I knew this, but didn't know how much) - trust me, I don't need it! Because my gauge was slightly larger than I accounted for, and the midriff band tends to bubble out, I dropped the number of stitches for the front by 8, then put those 8 back in in mini bust darts. That's all I'm going to do.

- she uses a waffle stitch in the upper part, I've got a broken rib. I tried a couple of waffle variations, and with the kinkiness of my yarn, it ends up with a pronounced horizontal corrugation, but the purl bumps pretty much disappear. I liked the broken rib better for my materials

- my midriff band is lower than hers (on purpose - I like these things completely under the bust), and my shoulder straps are narrower than hers (on purpose again)

- my armholes are deeper (start earlier) than hers by about an inch. Not going to do them over, so we'll see how that turns out!

- my front neckline is planned to be lower (on purpose), her back neck was lower - so I'm grabbing that bit. It makes sense to have extra room for shirt collars (and I do NOT want this yarn touching my skin in any case!)

- I did 4 rows for each rib of the bottom and midriff bands - I've got a lighter yarn, and I'm doing it back and forth, so it makes sense. For the collar and armhole bands I'll do 3 like she did.

All in all, not a huge amount of difference, besides the bust darts. They'd be the whole point of the book "Fitted Knits", but since I don't need them, the book is for inspiration as it is ;).

Now to finish this thing and actually be warm!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Sewing Machine Still Works

As usual, a little behind the times - but seasons have a habit of coming around again.

Vinage pattern, size 8 - which is quite a bit smaller than me. But this pattern was just three main pieces, and the sleeves are definitely big enough as is, so I did a simple slice up the middle of the front and back pieces and added 1" for each side (total 4" added). This was meant to be a beach coverup for when the sun got too much for my skin (one day I'll actually be outside long enough for that to happen!), and I just happened to have a densely woven fitted sheet that was too small for my bed.

Just needs buttons/buttonholes and a little finishing, and it's done! I switched the sewn-on top binding to a drawstring casing (I stared at it for half of sunday afternoon, and finally figured out that folding over wasn't going to cut it, no matter how I did the raglan seams, so I made a top facing pattern - went on quickly, no muss, no fuss). The intent here was to be able to alter the size of the neckline to raise/lower the blouse as needed. Not sure how well this is going to work in practice due to the sleeve length (which is just at my wrists in these pics), but I did try to leave enough elastic to allow me to push up the sleeves on my arms.

The sheet fabric has more body than I expected, so this is going to stay pretty poofy. I'm going to play with layering and see if I can get a look I like that would work for more every day than just beach wear - vests? garters on the sleeves? under 1/2 sleeve jackets?

Here's hoping for an FO soon, and the start of a new run on sewing projects!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Bit Scattered

but then, what else is new?

Things seem to be slowing down on the knitting front:

Almost done the back of the vest. Which, in the tradition of Murphy means that the library just ordered a few new copies of Fitted Knits and mine is in transit to my branch as we speak - I was predicting another 6 months recently! I guess I can check how off my guestimate dimensions are!!

Working on the 3nd try at a cabled sock pattern - a little annoying when something doesn't work out on the other side of the heel and it gets ripped out *again*.

Durrow has been pulled out of the mothballs, the first sleeve frogged, and the body size checked again to make sure it's ok. Time to figure out where I was!

Then last weekend I talked with my FIL, and he wants a sweater! We'll have to see how a transatlantic email discussion works for sweater design...

So all this scattered attention on the knitting might have set me up for the 15 page "SWAP 2008" thread over at Stitcher's Guild. What's better for lack of focus than a focused plan? Especially when that focussed plan is in a totally different medium. I'm hearing the siren call of the SWAP... it worked so well last summer to get me inspired and turning out finished objects! Then again, what I need right now is comfy and warm, so maybe I shouldn't get too pulled away from the yarn.

Hmmm - combined sewing and knitting SWAP? Would that make it a SKWAP?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Scarf, and Pattern-Worm*

Ah, the benefits of helping a generous mom organize her new sewing room! Two autumn shade Paton's SWS (Soy Wool Stripes) sorta came home with me. And before you could blink, became My So Called Scarf. At the moment, I'm planning on keeping it too - how did I get so far in my knitting journey while still using the same store-bought scarf I've had since high school?

so called scarf

sws scarf end

sws scarf middle

Stats: pattern listed above (easy-peasy!), 2 balls of Paton's SWS, colour 70605, 7.5mm needles (no corresponding US size - between 10.5 and 11), ended up blocked to about 6"x54" (15x140cm).

(As for the yarn - silky, soft, shiney, pretty colours - 3 knots in the first ball, one in the second. All but one of the knots were pretty close in colour sequence though, so I didn't lose too much yarn. There was no bleeding in the water, and so far no pilling.)

Then, last week and the beginning of this week, I was ill - so my defences may have been low. I've been patiently waiting for the "Fitted Knits" book to arrive from the library to make the U-Necked Back-to-School Vest (check out the knit along blog for many wonderful reditions). It's still not here. But the idea wouldn't let go, and I really wanted a warm torso NOW, so I pulled out the cones of yarn I recently found at my neighbourhood second hand shop.

Reasons why I shouldn't do this:
1. no pattern
2. the cone yarn is highly spun, stiff, and very scratchy (rug yarn?)
3. the swatch says, with doubled yarn, I need to use 4mm needles for a reasonable fabric - the only circular I have in 4mm is too slippery for this yarn

What do I do?

back-to-school swatch

1. look at the pictures - since I'd have to rewrite the pattern for the smaller gauge anyway, why not just start from scratch? It's can easily be a tube with several stitch patterns I recognize - I may or may not put in the bust darts, not like I need them.

2. well, it's a vest - it's over top of other things, scratchy shouldn't be a problem

3. knit it on straights, in two pieces. This part I'm not entirely happy about, because of the tube effect of the reverse stockinette - stockinette - reverse stockinette bands at the bottom, midriff, and edges. There will very likely be a lump over the seam which won't roll properly.

In testimony to the tenacity of the idea - I'm 7" up the back already. Maybe I'll make it again later, properly.

(*pattern-worm is in relation to "earworm" - where something keeps repeating in your head like a snippit of a song and won't let go)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Finished Arwen!

Not the best photos, but the cream of the 20 or 30 I took. Black is sooooo hard to photograph, especially in a dark bathroom with a mirror that seems fine, but every time I futz with the photo settings, I find fuzz and spots :P.

Details: Cardigan for Arwen, from Interweave Knits Winter 06, by Kate Gilbert
Reclaimed 100% cotton, black.
Gauge swatch got stated gauge with 5mm (US8) needles.

Due to the growth factor of cotton, and the fact that my "wingspan" was half way between the smallest and second smallest sizes, I went down to the smallest size.

Pre-blocking pics:

After a heavy steam & pins block:

Then, after wearing it for a couple of days:

I think it's coming into it's own. The steam block gave me breathing room, and extra length (it's now 13.5" from the underarms, instead of the 12" I knit it), and with wearing it can now easily go over sleeves. The hood got drapier too - but that's fine, I like my hoods big and drapey!

Visible - I lengthened the hood an inch, because a comparison with my favourite fleece hoodie suggested it would be tight otherwise. I also tightened the cuffs of the sleeves by a little over an inch by adding 4 more short rows to the sleeves and taking out 8 straight rows in the middle of each (one cable repeat). I left the upper arm width the same, since it's 2" bigger than my upper arm measurement (sigh, I used to have muscles!), but with the inelasticity of the cotton I think it could have done with a little more to make getting it on over shirts easier.

Not-so-visible - I started with a crochet-provisional-cast-on and then knit up the hems as I came to them (leaving the last stitch near the side seams free to make seaming easier). I didn't change it to knitting in the round for two reasons - one, because I thought the cotton could use an extra bit of structure to keep it from creeping indefinitely, and two, because I like the gratification that comes from finishing each piece - it seems to go faster that way than knitting everything at once. I'm not afraid of seaming. I used a twisted German cast-on for the cable panels at the front instead of backwards loop (mostly because I couldn't get the backwards loop even over that number of stitches). I tried two different "provisional" cast-ons for the sleeves (see earlier post!), and the figure-8 definitely was the better way to go (although the cabled part still wasn't a walk in the park) - this way I could graft the cuff directly instead of picking up the stitches then grafting them (smoother finish to make turning back the cuffs look nice - theoretically), and I could also do an easy 3-needle bindoff for the bottom of the sleeves instead of mattress stitching head-to-tail stitches. On the second sleeve, I increased one stitch after the shoulder bind off, so that the back-sleeve seam, which eats up a stitch, wouldn't cause a bubble compared to the front which has no seam.

Lots of little tweaks, some successful, some not quite so much. But I'm very pleased with the result! On top of that, who doesn't need a black cardigan?

Friday, October 05, 2007

Almost finished, almost... aw, #$%@#

First of all, I always forget the vast land that is the hood. Once I'm finished the fronts and back and sleeves, I think "in the home stretch now!". But hoods, hoods are big. Especially the way I like them. So the past week and a bit has been a bit of frustration at how long this is taking!

Yesterday saw the light at the end of the tunnel. Last inch. Just have to get one more repeat of the cable pattern, making sure I end on row 6...

Done! Now to graft the top seam, cable to cable...

#$%#@@##%$%$^$%$@#@%$#%$. The left cable is not at row 6. The right cable and left cable have been at different rows for a long time now, a fact that should have been abunduntly clear to me at least once I started the hood (all in one piece - I even noticed that I was doing the same action for both sides. This means that the tops of the cables are identical, and therefore, when you flip them end to end do not line up because the cable isn't symmetrical). If I had been thinking, I would have checked with the beginning of the second sleeve, because something in the back of my head was saying that the way the cable on the edge was going compared with the cable on the sleeve was different this time around...

Upshot: THE NUMBER OF ROWS BEFORE THE START OF THE SLEEVES ON THE FRONTS IS VERY, VERY IMPORTANT. It's not important what number that is (as long as it matches the back), but it's incredibly important that the left and the right are the same. I don't know whether this fact was pointed out in the pattern (I have a bad habit of skimming), but do NOT go just by measurements. Especially in a drapey yarn.

So I was lying in bed with a quandry. How do I fix this? The proper way would be to undo the hood and one side down to the armpit and do it properly. I immediately threw this idea out as taking way too long - due to the drape, the extra four rows on the right side won't be noticed (hence why I didn't notice them when I was measuring the fronts in the first place). Not worth the effort. I could undo part of the hood, and try to put in a couple of short rows on the left side and see if the drape would hide them, and thus end up with the same number of cable rows on each side. I could try to end the cables, then put in a few rows of reverse stockinette to graft together at the peak (turned out to be tough because of the asymmetric nature of the cable - one braid section stands by itself and would have to be just stopped, versus the twist and end that can happen when they overlap). I could try and see if at some point the cables as they are could be merged, or plot out a new braid pattern to force them to merge.

Turns out, it wasn't all that tough. One more row on each to get the twist, then repositioning the stitches on one side for the next row and grafting the stitches together. Seems they melded perfectly fine two more rows down. But what's life, without a little panic?!

Next up: pre- and post-blocking pics. I'm thinking of trying just a heavy steam block to begin with, cotton takes forever to dry from full immersion. I've also taken pictures of the cable grafting for a possible tutorial, but I'm not sure how well the black is visible for instruction purposes.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Lasa Shawl Headband

The new Magknits is up - and my first design is in it!!!!!

Lása Shawl Headband

I haven't gone over it with a fine tooth comb yet, but one thing did jump out at me - apparently they only use black and white for the charts, and colour was pretty important to one section of mine!! I'll have to see what can be done about the Magknits version, but in the mean time, here are the colour versions (click for much larger pictures!)***ETA: Wow, that was fast - there was no problem to fix, and she did it in an instant! Well, I'll keep the charts here, because it's often helpful to be able to blow them up large - much easier to read that way. I may also rewrite them with better symbols, rather than just ascii characters - let me know if you'd like it sooner than later!

And by request:

Schematic, with dimensions.

Close up of corner edging.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Gnat's Reward

The upside of of needing to start something new! The first Endpaper Mitt is done, and a pretty fine specimen if I do say so myself.

And just to show that I haven't succumbed to "second mitten syndrome" - first repeat of mitt #2 was completed on the balcony this afternoon. I don't think you could get second mitten syndrome, these things go too quickly to get bored of them before the second one is done.

I followed the instructions for the Italian Tubular Cast-On, and I think I got it working alright. First mitt looks a little better at the moment, but that may be partly because I've stretched it trying it on. The sewn tubular cast off though, I had a bit of trouble with! One day I'll figure out why, but since I figured out it was just a regular kitchener graft of the heads of the knits with the heads of the purls, I separated the knits and purls onto separate needles and did what I already knew how to do. I'm pretty sure one of the sock patterns I've done told me how to do that. Much better looking (left hand side!) and stretches better as well.

I was going for a "medium", but with my yarn I ended up using the "small" needle sizes (2.75mm and 2mm) - the end result is a width that's in between small and medium (and fits great!), and a length that is as stated for the medium on the top half, but longer than expected on the bottom half - I'll have to watch the second one and make sure it isn't a tension change!

Arwen? There was no problem. Cables were as they should be, so I finished up the sleeve while I was at it. Hood is next!!