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!!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Attention Span of a Gnat

Some days I can hyperfocus on something for a few hours and not realize the time going by.

Some days I can't finish a sentence without getting lost.

Some days I'm hyperfocused and lost at the same time...

and I think the last few days have been pretty much in that last catagory.

Which became a problem, as I hit snags in the WIPs (works in progress): I'm almost done the second sleeve of Arwen, but the cables don't seem to be at the right place (50% of the time there is no problem, my head is just messed up, and 50% of the time it requires minor or major surgery - I just can't figure out what it is right now!); the cami I'm designing requires shaping decisions; the socks are in the middle of a top-down heel (I'm usually a toe-up girl); and DH's Durrow requires a decision on ripping back the whole sleeve and redoing it, or accepting the 1" difference in sleeve lengths, which I don't think is a good thing to decide on when you aren't thinking clearly. Don't even think about writing up the patterns - attention to detail, anyone?

And knitting is supposed to be my "as long as I can hold my hands up, I can get something done" activity. So, what's a gal to do, but cast something else on, something else that has no problems with it yet?

(Eunny Jang's Endpaper Mitts)

I don't think I should be allowed to cast on without running the idea past someone else first. Sure, this was the project I was most thinking about in my queue. Sure, I'd already dyed the yarn and balled it up. Sure, I was excited to try colourwork.

See that? Try colourwork. First time besides swatches in about 15 years. And those teenaged projects didn't turn out so well. This pattern was often sited as a good one to start with for colourwork - it's small with minimal shaping. But I'm trying to do the one-colour-in-each-hand method (wait a minute, haven't done much throwing/English style knitting either), and trying to juggle the double pointed needles along with yarn in each hand is proving to be quite the brain teaser. How do you switch needles without dropping one of the yarns? Now, a smart woman would at least drop the yarn from her habitual hand so as to make it easier to pick up again, but habit is a hard thing to break - I'm so used to using my right hand to make the stitches and switch the needles and the left to hold the yarn, that I keep tangling the yarn in my right as I'm manipulating the needles and dropping it to switch them. (Just goes to show how small and fast the project is, that even with all that I'm already up to the thumb increases.)

So, if you are looking for me, I'll be the one in the corner with pretty fingerless mitts, and her brain oozing out her ears!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


A while ago, I finished the body of the Quinn Bag, then ran into the quandry of what to do for the strap. I wasn't too enamoured with the idea of having a stripe of brilliant yellow mohair across my chest. On suggestion of someone from Craftster, I started looking for a braided belt. The first one was a little heavy, but then I ran across one that was thin and open - none of them were long enough for a cross-body, so I tried to pick a length that worked with the proportions of the bag.

The inside lining is a yellow cotton print left over from lightweight curtains I made. My sock knitting has already taken up residence!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Time Keeps on Ticking...

I'm a little sad that I'm not going to be able to finish my baby sweater pattern for the Sept. 15th deadline for Knitty submissions. The next one will be for spring, which I don't think a black sweater is quite the appropriate design for (I know that the colour is immaterial in other people making it, but magazines have to be based on what I've made!). Magknits might just win this contest! Not that (a) they aren't already deluged with baby patterns, and (b) black is really, really hard to get proper photos of (which would make it bad form for them to publish!), so this one may end up self-published in any case.

So, while my brain is stewing in the middle of gauge questions and how to properly size things up while keeping the spirit of the design the same, I decided to play around with someone else's pattern (a 60's jacket from one of the vintage pattern books I posted earlier, to be exact)!

I didn't start out that way - this was going to be a match-the-pattern-to-the-yarn, and try-not-to-start-knitting-before-I-finish-something-else. When along the way:

1. turns out it's the crochet jacket I liked best (first time in a while that I liked the look of crochet in a garment!) - my crochet skills aren't nearly where my knit ones are!

2. turns out that even though one of the other jackets was made with bulky yarn, this one is a sport-weight version. I still like the idea of a black bulky short jacket.

3. swatch. get up to the largest size crochet hook I have (6.5mm - says US K10.5 on it), which gives a fairly dense fabric with some flexability - ok.

(still have to decide whether I want to pull off every bit of white fluff attached to the yarn, or whether I'll leave it in and call the end result "heathered")

3b. look - I found the perfect buttons at Value Village! Possibly even from the same era!

4. now I find myself facing the uphill task of figuring out whether I have enough yarn. well, this part happened fairly late in the evening, when my tendancy to hyperfocus is at it's greatest - so, really, there was no stopping me:

My method:
- measure swatch for area and weight, figure out I'm using 0.714g/square inch (don't mind my mixing US and metric!)
- weigh total yarn stash (650g)
- figure out I can crochet up to about 910 square inches with that yarn

Now the next part would have been easy peasy with a good schematic, but apparently they didn't believe in ANY schematics, so I had to add a couple of steps:
- take the stitch and row counts for each piece, translate them into dimensions using the gauge given for the pattern
- figure out the area of each piece (roughly - mostly it was rectangles and triangles anyway)
- come up with 1070 sq in for the small (would have given me 2" ease), or 1,190 for the other size (meant for my size - 6" ease) Oops.

5. now the playing begins...

a) the collar is doubled, which I don't think is a good idea for bulky yarn - that gives me another 72 sq in to play with right off the bat. Could also do the collar and mock pocket flaps in a contrasting, or just different black, yarn (160 sq in).

b) start playing with the lengths

This is about how the original would look like - although I think I only guestimated 4" of ease here - it's really hard to add that properly on a croquis!

Same sleeves, but shorter length.

Shortened the sleeves too. I like the proportions best on this one - but trying to figure out if I'll wear a 3/4 length sleeve, short, bulky, black 60's style jacket. Hey, it's cute at least! I wonder if the Endpaper Mitts are long enough to go under those sleeves?

And it did distract me from the baby sweater disappointment for a day.

Now to make myself hold off at least until I'm done Arwen, and have brought Durrow out to see the light of day (it's been sent to live under the couch for a few months, because of a gauge hiccup - one sleeve is 1" longer than the other because I loosened up - am trying to decide whether to reknit the whole sleeve, or whether raglan+DH's not-so-neat way of wearing sweaters = you won't be able to tell anyway...). Sigh. The new things are always so much more exciting.

(ps - haven't forgotten about the sock pattern - it's about halfway done too!)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Arwen Progress

Slower than my liking, since I really want to wear this, but proceeding apace. Back is done, left front is done to the neckline, right front I'm on the second half of the sleeve. I stopped at the neckline because (a) I want to do the hood in one piece, and (b) I wanted to make sure I had enough yarn for the hood!! Seems to be going fine in that department.

I am a little worried that the cotton won't grow as much as I anticipated - the smallest size looks a little small! Should look fine as a form-fitting hoodie, so I'm not worried about being able to wear it - just not quite the look I was aiming for. But better than 4" past my fingers like my Mariah!

I've been altering some of the pattern as I go along. Some changes have worked, some not so much. For both sleeves I added an extra 4 short rows, then took out 8 rows in the middle - this effectively increases the slant on the "sides" of the sleeves, which means I got to decrease the cuff circumference without changing the bicep measurement (or having to fiddle with the sleeve placement). I chose 8 rows, because that was the repeat of the cable pattern, so I can have an even number just like the pattern. It was supposed to drop the cuff from 10" to a little under 9", but unblocked my cables are coming out wider and shorter than the gauge on the pattern. Hopefully a little water will fix that right up - right now my cuffs are about 8" around (which isn't a bad fit actually - mostly need the length for the front bands).

I also decided that I wanted live stitches at the leading edge of the knit-on sleeves, so that I didn't have to try and mattress stitch the whole underarm seam (I do fine with mattress stitch on columns, but since these sleeves are knit side-to-side, I'd have to seam head-of-stitch-to-tail-of-stitch, and I haven't quite got that skill down!). My goal was to graft the cuff to have it seamless, then do a three-needle bind-off of the underarm seam.

Attempt one (left front and sleeve): provisional crochet cast on with waste yarn. Result: fine for the sleeve portion, disaster for the cuff. I couldn't sort out the stitches at the bottom of the cuff because of all the twisting that happens with the cables. Something got majorly messed up with my unzipping, and I ended up with strands of yarn that weren't attached to stitches, and too few stitches, and no idea what order they should have been in. The only thing that saved that cuff is that the cables meant it couldn't unravel from the bottom up! I forced a graft between that mess and the trailing edge of the cuff - not like you can see it at 200 meters from a galloping horse in any case ;). Black also helps hide many mistakes!

Attempt two (right front and sleeve): in progress. Figure-8 cast on with main yarn. You can see I've got a circular needle hanging onto the bottom stitches - with that needle there, I'm hoping to avoid all the tangles and confusion of the last attempt. Will let you know how it turns out after the next 40 or so rows.

Once I get to the top of the hood, I'm thinking of trying to photograph a tutorial on grafting rows with knits and purls (I didn't find any online explanations for that back when I was trying to do it to Mariah). Hmmm, I could probably do it already with the cuff... I'll see if it's clear enough! And if I can show enough detail with black yarn!!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


It's always good to work on a cold-weather item while you are taunting the weather fairies with making a sundress in the last days of August ;). I decided it was time to pull out my Rogue pullover and fix the sleeves. Something went wrong the first time around - I thought it might have been a bad row gauge, but since the body worked out fine, I'm thinking I increased too fast or some such thing (I have a tendancy to knit sleeves at the same time, so while they were both wrong, they were wrong together!). Of course, I have been known to change my gauge as I go... one day I'll start checking before I get so far! The upshot was a completed heavy wool sweater with 3/4 length sleeves. Which apparently looked ok, but certainly didn't function well in a Canadian climate.

The original story goes like this. I saw someone else's version of Rogue, made from recycled sweater yarn, in a deep red colour. Instant love. And I don't usually choose red for clothing! Enter long wait to find suitable sweater to use as raw materials - Rogue has both cables and a hood, which take up more yarn than stockinette. Finally, after lamenting that the cranberry sweater DH found for me was (a) fair isle, so there was less of the main colour that would normally exist in a sweater that size and (b) thick bulky yarn (I think Rogue calls for aran weight), I started to pull it apart to make a bulky hooded shrug from another pattern.

Excitement ensued when I discovered that the sweater was knit with many strands held together! And lo and behold, 4 was just right for the gauge needed!!!!

Fate also had it that I was just reading Ysolda's walk through the swatching and hem design of a pullover. Now wouldn't the white-turned-pink-in-the-wash yarn from the fair isle sections of the host sweater be perfect for the inside of the hems? I used less strands to effectively make the inside hem smaller, but not have to fiddle too much with the stitch count. Also dropped the twisted knit bit so that I could knit it right on (with the twisted stitches, they do pull in more, but lie, well, twisted - so you have to sew it on how it lies; with straight stitches, I could just k2tog with the main body). Turns out that you are well into the cables by the time this happens, and the cables add more stitches in this pattern - so I just skipped a hem stitch for every cable section. Helped the cables pop out too! I love the speed and neatness of knitting the hem on - got double goosebumps making the kangaroo pocket (you knit the section of the main body up in the pattern of the pocket, then go back and pick up an identical set of stitches from that first row and knit it with the rest of the front up the same height, then knit the pocket stitches and the body stitches together again - Jenna Wilson describes it much better in her pattern!!).

Other than the hem, I think the only change I made was to add an extra repeat of the side cable in order to lengthen the body a little bit. The last two pics are the most colour accurate!

And the upshot of working on a heavy wool sweater at the same time as a light sundress? The weather's been changable ;).