Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Faina's Scarf: Pilgrim's Progress

I actually did cast-on for Faina's scarf on February 14th. I'm just too lazy to have posted pictures. Here's a "dry block" of my current progress:

I love the yarn, it's amazingly soft, and the pattern is fun. I just have to stop and admire FREQUENTLY, so I catch all my missed yarn-overs before having to rip out multiple rows.

Thanks for all the well-wishes on the cold, I used it as an effective excuse to not do much besides sit around and knit most of that weekend, so I'm about 3/5 done with the scarf.

I cannot capture the green of the scarf with a camera, which I guess makes sense seeing as the color looks different to me depending on what light I'm knitting in. Aw yeah. I love complex shades like that. You can also tell it's a home dye job, since it's got small variations in the color. One of the ugly secrets of home dyeing: it's difficult (to impossible, especially with wool) to get completely even colors. If you want even color, dye the roving, not the yarn. I happen to like the slight variegation, it makes the yarn more interesting to me.

Frances the attention hog cat

I ripped out the first chart twice. First time, the slip stitches on the ends of the rows weren't loose enough. Even though I'm now being very loose (knitting, not morally, Rabbitch) on those side stitches, I'm still worried they're going to be too tight when I stretch out the lace. I don't know how I'd be looser at this point, though.

Second time, I got farther but then ripped because my SSKs look like complete ass (that's the technical term, you know). UGGGGggy. I wasn't at all certain they'd even out with blocking.

They looked sloppy compared to the K2Togs and I couldn't figure out how to get them even. I tried making them tight, loose, and tugging on the 2nd stitch vs. the first. I somewhat have this problem with socks too, but the tension seems to be tight enough that it doesn't really bug me that much, and washing does even it out.

I finally went with a modified SSK: slip 1 knitwise, slip 1 purlwise, insert left needle through front loops of slipped stitches then knit them together. I got this idea from the Knitting Tips & Trade Secrets book that I got for Christmas from the 'rents. A very close look reveals that 2nd twisted stitch, but I don't much care because they're coming out more even (not completely though, which irks my inner perfectionist). It also helps to carefully not stretch the stitches when I slip them.

Now I'm at the point where I'm faced with the eternal scarf question: should I add another repeat to make it longer? I think have enough yarn....

Also, I'm vaguely entertaining the idea of knitting it halfway, knitting another half halfway, then grafting them together. Am I insane? Would this look awful? Could I pull off the grafting if I did it on a purl row?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

An effort to think positively today

Random things I like
  • Garlic
  • Very fresh butter
  • the way grass moves in waves when blown by the wind
  • the feel of silk charmeuse
  • The Princess Bride, by Willim Goldman (referring here to the book. The movie's pretty good too, but I'm thinking of the book today)
  • pale green of new spring leaves
  • tulips
  • seeds
  • fresh sugar-snap peas
  • blue hydrangeas
  • Frances the cat, purring as she sits on my chest
  • bird tracks in the sand
  • tasty BEvERages
  • sleeping
  • bouncy, springy wool yarn
  • D'Affinois brie
  • grilled salmon
  • GOOD chocolate chip cookies
  • drinking and eating and talking on the back patio on a summer evening as the stars come out
  • fresh raspberries picked from the vine
  • bouquets of dahlias from the Farmer's market
  • candlelight
  • blueberry pie
  • Twilight Zone marathons (oh yes, so horribly cheesy and dated and slow-paced, but I like the concept of T.Z. Marathons)
  • DVD players
  • massive summer thunderstorms in the desert
  • sound that snow makes when it's falling
  • EuroRails (it's a board game)
  • Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade
  • Vineland, by Thomas Pynchon
  • the clouds scudding quickly across the sky

Monday, February 26, 2007

Long time, no blog

Thank you all for the compliments on the grey cable-twists socks. EXACTLY as you say - just enough pattern to make them interesting, yet still easily memorized and compliant with the Not-Too-Fancy K requirement. Like ribbing++

Sorry I haven't been around. I submitted a design to the Purlescence Storytellers competition and was scrabbling to get that all together. I'm not expecting much of it because I am TRULY AWFUL at drawing. Truly. My sketch of my lace stole looks as if it's demonically posessed. I always failed art classes in elementary school, my only shameful minuses on the whole report card. I took woodshop in junior high just so I could avoid art. And because bandsaws are cool. If nothing comes of the contest, maybe I'll finish up the design post it here.

Then last-last Saturday I picked up a cold from somewhere, and even though for 2 days I managed to keep it confined to my throat (and thought I was over the hump), Tuesday was the Great Snotfall and Achiness. I'd been trying to Zinc and Vitamin-C it to death and been drinking so many liquids I had to pee every hour, on the hour. Wednesday I caved and bought some Airborne to try. Because, see, Wednesday night K & I left for a little romantical vacation for 4 days.

Fortunately I felt much better on Thursday and mostly completely healthy by Saturday. No Pseudoephedrine-enhanced benadryl supplies were exhausted. We had a good time and K got some respite from the annoying, frustrating, and long hours he's been spending at work for some months. It's awfully nice to sit in cushy chairs in a warm room, with a lovely view, and have people bring you good beer.

Plus I didn't have really much to say lately.

Not like I have much to say today. But hey, travel and airports are sure conducive to lots of knitting time. I'm past the heel of a Pomatomus already. (Faina didn't come along for the ride, since it's not a great travel knit (too many charts to be checking all the time)). Day-umn. It took me WEEKS to do the first one last fall.

First sock: 51 grams
Yarn leftover for second sock: 52 grams
It's going to be a close one.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Grey Cable-Twist Socks

Hey, another pair of socks! These ones for K:

Pattern: Cable Twist Socks from Hello Yarn (actually, I used only the stitch pattern and went my own way for the rest)

Yarn: Rowan 4 Ply Soft in color 372: Sooty (a steel grey). 100% superwash merino wool. I used 2 balls + part of a 3rd (there were 35 g left on the 3rd ball). Each ball: 191 yards/50 g. Purchased from Woodland Woolworks.

Needles: 2.25 mm (US 1) Lantern Moon wooden DPNs

Gauge: 7.5 st/inch, 10 rows/inch in stockinette

Notes about the yarn: very soft, squishy, and elastic, and not easily split. Two thumbs up!, a pleasure to knit with, although pricey if you need that 3rd ball. I don't know how well it will wear, but it's got a tight twist to it.

Notes about the needles:I like to use wooden double-pointed needles or magic loop. I avoid ladders in the socks by:
1) hiding the needle change in a purl trough - lots of those in this sock.
2) working the first stitch of the next needle, then putting the needle into the 2nd stitch, and then tugging to tighten up the first stitch and the join. This tends to work better for wool than cotton.

I used 2.25 mm needles which produced a firm fabric. It's not as bouncy as the original yarn, but K liked it better than the 2.75 mm and it'll probably hold up better to wear.

Pattern notes:
I used the stitch pattern from the original and crafted the rest of the sock from generic sock patterns and my own head.

The pattern isn't difficult, is easy to memorize, and gives you a nice cable effect without the cabling. All the cables on those socks are left twists: just work the 2nd stitch first, then slip the first. This is essentially the same as cabling without a cable needle, using only 1 stitch to cross. The ribbing it produces is very springy! However, it still was too small to fit over K's feet, so I added a couple more repeats. These still fit firmly on his feet, but not restrictively.


My version of the pattern:

Cast on for 10 repeats of the pattern, instead of 8 (10 x 7) = 70 stitches.
If you wish to do calf shaping, cast on 10 additional stitches = 80 stitches.
I cast on only 75 stitches and you can't hardly tell there's any calf shaping. If I did it again I'd do 80.
The stitch pattern is 5 knit/2 purl, with the cable shaping happening over the 5 knit group.
Calf shaping: Work 5 knit/3 purl for about an inch, then switch to stitch pattern, still working 5 knit-cabled/3 purl. Work about 4 repeats of the pattern then purl-2-together over 2 purl stitches in every 3 purl group = 70 stitches.

Work stitch pattern until leg is long enough, ending with the final stitch pattern row.

Heel flap (I used a plain old slip-stitch heel flap):
Assuming your stitches are arranged as follows:
needle 1: 5 knit, 2 purl, 5 knit, 2 purl, 5 knit, 2 purl
needle 2: 5 knit, 2 purl, 5 knit, 2 purl
needle 3: 5 knit, 2 purl, 5 knit, 2 purl, 5 knit, 2 purl
needle 4: 5 knit, 2 purl, 5 knit, 2 purl
And you are at the very beginning of needle 1:

Knit 18 stitches, k2 together (this will be 1 knit and 1 purl knit together). Turn work
Purl 34, turn.
The non-purled stitches will be worked later as the instep)
(One each end you are dividing the 2 purls into 1 purl held on the instep to work later, and 1 purl to be involved in heel shaping.)
1. (Sl 1, K1) across, turn.
2. Sl 1st stitch, Purl back
Repeat rows 1 & 2 for a total of 17 times (34 rows total)
Now repeat row 1 one more time

Turn heel (34 stitches to start):
You should be starting with the wrong side facing you, after that final #1 row from above.
Sl 1, P 17, P2 together, P 1, turn.
Sl 1, K 3, SSK, K 1, turn.

Now, repeat the following 2 rows until you have no more stitches left. On the final repeat you won't be able to do the last P 1 and K 1. No worries.
1. Sl 1, purl to 1 stitch before the gap. P2 tog, P 1.
2. Sl 1, knit to 1 stitch before the gap. SSK, K 1.

Pick up and knit 18 stitches across the side of the heel, one for each slip-stitch loop on the edge + one at the end where it looks kind of loose. I always tend to pick up 19-20 stitches, instead of 1 per slip-stitch loop. If you do so, just decrease the stitches using a few judicious K2tog or work the gusset a little longer. A couple stitches REALLY doesn't matter much at this gauge.

I tried Grumperina's Pretty Way of picking up stitches and I like the effect. It gives a nice taut edge with a neat pattern. I twisted every stitch I picked up, as she directs. This has been the best thing for me to avoid the dreaded "gusset gap" when you join instep and heel.

After picking up 1 side, work the instep stitches IN PATTERN--just start a new repeaton the cable pattern. You should start with a purl 1 and end with a purl 1.

Pick up and knit about 18 stitches on the other side of the heel. Knit half of the back stitches onto the same needle you used to pickup/knit the heel stitches.

Rearrange your stitches so that you have the following:
Needle 1: starts at the very back of the heel, includes half the heel stitches and left picked-up stitches. I also move the 1 lonely purl from beginning the patterned instep to this needle.
Needle 2: all the patterned instep stitches, minus the 2 purls at the ends. If it's awkward to hold, break the stitches on this needle up into 2 needles.
Needle 3: the lonely purl at the end of the patterned instep, all the right picked-up stitches, and the first half of the heel stitches.

Next row, start the gusset decreases:
Repeat these 2 rows until you have 20 stitches (18 knits, 2 purls) on needles 1 & 3 (33 stitches on needle 2) = 73 stitches total
Round 1:
Needle 1: K to 5 stitches before the end. K2 tog, K 1, P 2
Needle 2: work in pattern
Needle 3: P 2, K1, SSK, K to end
Round 2:
Needle 1: K until 2 stitches before end, P 2
Needle 2: work in pattern
Needle 3: P 2, K until end.

At this point, work the toe straight, knitting the knits, purling the purls, and working the cable pattern section in pattern. Work until you are about 2 1/2" inches before the end of the toe, ending with the last cable pattern.
Why all the purl 2 fuss? Because I wanted the cable pattern on the foot to be framed by 2 purl troughs, of 2 purls each, just like the purl trough from the top of the sock. You can see this effect best in the "wearing" shot below, where the stitches are stretched out.

Note on the picking up the gusset stitch: to be totally correct, you would need to PURL the first stitch you picked up on the right heel, and PURL the last stitch you picked up on the left heel, to keep the pattern from the top continuing exactly.

I tried this on the 2nd sock, but a) it was really awkward to purl and twist the stitch, and b) I think it actually looked worse than picking it up and knitting it with a twist, at least using the Grumperina pick-up method. So I say, just go with the knit-twist.

*** this first part is important to a balanced toe!
Move the 2 purl stitches at the end of needle 1 to needle 2.
Move the 2 purl stitches at the beginning of needle 3 to needle 2.
Needle 1: 18 stitches
Needle 2: 37 stitches
Needle 3: 18 stitches
total: 73 stitches

Work one row all knit. (I didn't do this, but would have, because the purls look funny if you go straight into the toe decreases)

Work the following 2 rounds 9 times (until 9 stitches each on needles 1 & 3=37 stitches total)
Round 1:
Needle 1: Knit to 3 stitches from end, K2 tog, K 1
Needle 2: K 1, SSK, knit to within 3 stitches of end, K2tog, K 1
Needle 3: K 1, SSK, knit to end.
Round 2:
Knit entire round

Next, work Round 1 every round 7 times, stopping before you work needle 3 the very last round (you're going to leave the yarn at the end of needle 2).
Needle 1: 2 stitches
Needle 2: 5 stitches
Needle 3: 3 stitches.

Transfer Needle 3's stitches to Needle 1 and graft the toe closed.


These have been done for a couple weeks but I wanted to get an Action Shot. K liked them so much, he wouldn't remove them from his feet after this pick. A successful socking!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

stupid blogger

Making us all switch to the new one. If it's not clear already, I'm not much of an early adopter. To mutilate a quotation: "I do not like CHANGE unless I MAKE IT MYSELF."

Fuck this, I'm going to get hosted and do Wordpress.

Haloscan comment wizard isn't working for me, probly because I'm on a Mac.

I drove today so I could leave early for an optometrist's appointment. Then I left my lights on by accident and my battery ran down. Then I locked the keys in the car. Afterwards I ran fast and just caught public transit and ran just fast enough to arrive in time for my appointment. Then I walked home. Happy fucking valentine's day.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Faina's Scarf Prep

La wants some yarn porn (isn't that Baby Alpaca Silk enough, honey?), so here's the yarn I'm intending to use for Faina's Scarf.

It's Blue Sky Alpaca's Royal Alpaca and it's baby's buttcheek soft. Yes, from the stash; what, you think I have no self control? Well, I didn't when I was buying this, but that's what you get when you give me a gift certificate and say "limited edition" and "alpaca" in the same sentence.

I bought it in color Pewter from an online store, and I thought that the color would be a sophisticated soft olive green. It arrived and was much more brown than I expected. Now, I love me a good brown, but deep in the gray winter, brown isn't really turning my crank, so I set it aside until I had a better idea of what to do with it.

Last weekend I dyed it up. Jacquard acid dyes, 1 tsp each of blue and yellow (I forget which blues and yellows I purchased: probably sapphire blue and sun yellow).

It's now this lovely shade of vibrant green that I ADORE. I could hardly wait until it dried so I could ball it up. Every time I walk in that room I have to pet it. It'sa deep grass green but sophisticated-deep, not dark-deep. This picture is crap but it kind of reflects what I feel about this yarn: it GLOWS

Does alpaca stick to itself after dyeing? Because if it doesn't I may have felted it a teeny tiny bit. Not much but I had to tug a little strands to get them to separate when I was converting it to a center-pull yarn mass. I was very, very careful about the temperature differentials and agitation while it was hot. Maybe I am too much of an agressive rinser? It doesn't look any more or less hairy than before, and I've got no dreadlocks, so I'm not worried.

Gratuitous pictures because I feel like it:
Dedicated to today's break in the Winter greyness:a view from my office window during a pretty sunset last week. I love how the quality of light changes during the day, and especially how it colors things at sunset and dawn.

And for my Bob Esponja fans:

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Fug

Wen, just for you and red Lacey Lamb do I drag the fugly out of the closet.

This loveliness is the first shawl I ever knit. Back in the L.B. (Lion Brand) Era, when I'd first started knitting but didn't know such things as Local Yarn Stores existed.

This next one is a bit blurrier but truer to color. I haven't messed with the color saturation/hue/brightness at all. Natural but slightly dark lighting.

I telecommuted to work and at that time I was a new knitter, obsessed, and didn't have anything to knit (patterns? Where do I get those from?). Hadn't yet discovered the knit blogs, knitty, just about anywhere except the Lion Brand Pattern site. Oh yes.

I also was on the phone in boring meetings A LOT and was desperate for some knitting. I picked that shawl pattern and went to find some yarn. Yes, some L.B. HOMESPUN a.k.a Acrylic Wonder.

What possessed me to choose the orange/green with Maleficent-purple highlights, I have no idea. Probably it was on sale. I seem to remember a clearance of some kind. I think the name of the colorway was "Renaissance". Let's see a close-up (this one is with flash):

Knit on US size 11, a bunch of YOs and K2Togs. There's even a crochet edging on that puppy.
To give it some credit, it's warm and soft... and is that awkward shawl size that will never stay on your shoulders. Poor thing spends its days balled up in the closet.

Eat the dogfood

Pacalaga pointed out that if I'm going to bitch about blogger not delivering email addresses, I should at least BOTHER to put up my own address. D'oh. Actually, she said it in a much nicer way.

So behold! Now you've got a functional if extremely ugly pointer for contact information up on the top right.

P.S. Go see her Clapotis and Tendrils stoles. They're gorgeous. That red yarn... oh man. Makes a girl want to go purchase something. I really like the mostly-solid colors, I think it really brings out the beauty of the yarn.

P.P.S Thank you to Kristen for the good info on Haloscan. I've seen it before but I didn't know anything about it. Hey, no worries about the gushing, I'm all for as much opinion as I can get. Lets me know ahead of time if something is going to be cool or drive me bonkers.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Monday and all that

Thank you so much for all your stories and advice for what to do on the Raglan of Doubt. I haven't ever done a raglan sweater before (heck, let's be honest. I've yet to do an adult sweater, period) and my small (but loud) inner perfectionist thinks I Must Do It Perfectly the First Time. Which is stupid and paralyzing and even if something doesn't work, I will LEARN something from it, so it is NOT a waste of time. Do I sound like I'm trying to convince myself? Sigh.

To answer some questions:

I've tried the sweater on K himself, and it looks too big - hence a big source of my worry.

About the grey cable twist socks, Carrie asked about the pattern: it's a pattern from Hello Yarn, although I used the stitch pattern and not much else, since I a) used thinner yarn, and b) made it for bigger feet. It looks complicated but the twists are just a left twist, and that's the only complicated stitch in the whole thing. You don't need a cable needle.

Just so you know, Blogger's new version means that I no longer get anyone's email address when they post a comment - all the comments are tagged "". I'd really like to answer people personally but I have to hunt down email addresses, if they're even available. I think this might push me over the edge to switch to something different.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Raglan of Doubt

Comparison of the raglan against the favorite sweater. 8" of 10" raglan length completed.

I've draped the new sweater about the favorite sweater... which is a little misleading, as the favorite sweater has set-in sleeves and the line of the shoulder is probably different.
This image I've modified so you can see the raglan line. Red is the current line. Purple is a projected line if I continue to the length suggested by the pattern, using the pattern of increases ever other row. Orange is the raglan "line" of the favorite sweater, if I started from the same point as the new sweater and drew a line to the underarm.

I've got a few things here:

  • I think I was wrong about the width. If continued in the present form, it'll be about the right width. (I still can't get over this, because on K himself, it looked far too wide, even at this point.)

  • The arms, however, will be a lot thinner than the favorite sweater

  • Maybe I'm just not looking at this 3-dimensionally. Maybe it will curve around and work perfectly. And maybe I'll win the lottery today. ha

  • If I did rip it out, how would I fix it?

    1. Make the raglan increases only 1 every 3 rows?
      Then I wouldn't get right body width, would I? I think this option must come with a modification to increase the length I do the raglan line - this would fill in extra width. I can't visualize if this would fix the problem at all.

    2. Increase the number of sleeve stitches at the cast-on, so that the sleeves were wider?
      This might be the way to go - it's the sleeves that look wrong here.

    3. Keep the every-other-row raglan increase, but only do the increase on the sleeves some rows? E.g. row 1: increase both sides of the marker: row2: straight, row 3: increase only on the sleeve side of the marker, row 4: straight.
      This would also make the sleeves wider, but it might make the raglan line look funny. And it might bias the whole sweater.

Add to this that I want to throw in some slip-stitch colorwork and also that favorite sweater is a tad bit too roomy, and now you know why I threw this in a corner. I think my confusion all stems from where the raglan seams start at the the top of the sweater: where's the right place?

The pattern I'm using for this sweater is the The Incredible, Custom-fit Raglan Sweater by Pamela Costello. I think I need to go back to Maggie Righetti's books and see what she says about placement of the raglan seams.

Oh swatch, you'll be a sweater soon.