Sunday, October 09, 2016

Two steps forward and one step back

Gauge - the most common advice given by knitters to other knitters is to check gauge. When something doesn't fit as it should - knitters mention gauge, and discuss if the swatch was big enough, if it was washed, blocked or maybe even not washed or kept. A swatch is meant to save knitters a lot of bother. Mostly it is good advice but sometimes gauge swatches lie. Gauge swatches are by nature smaller than the garments they are knit for, and can't predict how the weight of a garment will pull and distort the swatch.

Last time I posted I was well on the way to finishing my saddle shouldered cardigan. This post - the cardigan has been frogged, the maths reworked and the cardigan has begun again with fewer stitches. I had both sleeves worked and was 10 centimeters into the body below the underarm when I decided to steam block the work to open up the cable. The steam blocking relaxed the knitting and when I tried on the cardigan the sleeves hung mid knuckle, and more worrying the shoulder slumped off my shoulders and the armhole hung low - unflatteringly low.

So Thursday, at knit night I wrapped the cardigan around my chest - and found that it overlapped by 5 cm. That was a problem as I had calculated it to be an exact fit with 5cm for button bands. By overlapping 5cm the bust was 10cm or 4 inches too big. So I frogged, I pulled out the needle and wound back the yarn into balls. Annoyingly I had woven in the ends - but luckily the silky wool ends pulled out easily. Then Friday I sat down and did some calculations, and measured a cardigan that fits well to determine the across back measurment for a hand knit - this time I did the math for a bust 10 cm smaller than mine - seems I am working on negative ease here, it can stretch over the bumpy bits and fit without stretching over the smaller bits.

This time I planned my shoulder increases a little bit better, so the increases align better with the armsye line. The first time around I didn't think the placement of the increases through. With fewer stitches progress seems to be faster. I'm nearly up to the underarm, just working a few increases to help the sleeve and body curve into place better.


The other knitting this week was Hearts for Humanities - Otago University, like many educational institutions is suffering as the lower number of school levers results in fewer enrollements. That means less funding, fewer enrollements, and so fewer staff required. One of the faculties facing cuts is the Humanities - and while I am a science graduate i know in many places my area of study falls within the humanities divisions. I understand the economics - and the reality, but I don't like it, protesting might not change anything but it does make the decisions more visible.

So ... the Thursday night knit group meets weekly on university grounds, and was approached to knit red hearts that would be used to highlight the funding cuts. Most of the knitters have some connection with the university, as staff or alumni, and several were happy to help. Here are my 6 hearts, knit in Four Seasons, 8ply, 100% Acrylic. Acrylic to withstand the weather outside where they will be used. The tassels were my way to use up all the Acrylic, the pattern is Heart wash cloth revised, by Tricotine on I made several minor modifications as I knit, improving each one slightly, eventually slipping the last stitch and knitting the first to give a neat chain edge, and working the triple increase as a K, yo, k into the center stitch. I shifted the increases and decreases one stitch into the body, It's a neat pattern and only 40 rows. This was one of the few heart patterns that didn't require knitting each 'lobe' separately - for quick things like this I dislike cutting and joining and weaving in more than the beginning and ending ends.

Na Stella.


Friday, September 30, 2016

Look a blog post!

Hello, yes it has been a while, but today there is an update. I've been knitting, and doing other things. But this place is about the knitting. So today, there are three washcloths, knit with a Shetland belt, my colourwork project stalls (but I think I know why) and a developing design for a cardigan.

First the washcloths, three, knit in a blend of cotton and something man made, I didn't actively buy this - being a bit of a fibre snob about things synthetic, but it was a swap shop score. Sadly I've found that wash cloths with some synthetic fibre might actually be easier to use than pure cotton. They hold less water, so feel nicer, not all clammy and cold when picked up.

The wash clothes were a two-for project, knit to continue my practice with the the knitting belt and because some of our wash clothes have developed holes. An unnamed child used them to clean a craft knife of plastic scrapings and sliced the yarns in places, words have been said and replacements were required. I still have the colour work scarf ... As knitting belt practice, but felt the need for some plain practice. Plain as in one yarn, because a mix of knits and purls is not strictly speaking plain. First one is my standard go to checkerboard cloth - thin, flat and supple. Second is a garter rib - for knit purl practice and third is stocking stitch with a garter edge. Needles were 4mm stainless and 35-36cm long, which I think is a tad long for me. There seems to be a few more offerings for needles online - than when I first looked, I have some shorter, 30cm ones coming from POK, which should feel easier to use than the longer ones I have now.

The colour work scarf project langishes - I think becasue the longer needles are just a bit to much of a stretch for my arms - but it has grown since last I posted about it. And I'm happy with the way the colours are working out, at first the darker brown was very murky against the blue background, but the pink is much clearer. I can see why the default is a white background - but that seemed to predictable. I think I am on my second of five repeats - and might have to buy more yarn ... We shall see.


Finally there is a cardigan on the needles, this time circulars so knit in my usual way. This is a top down saddle shouldered cardigan, with a cable running down the saddle and sleeve into the cuff. I'm knitting the sleeves first while I think about the body. I know I want hip length, and I like the ribbing at the backwaist of Slanted Sleeven - so I am thinking of using the cables to do the the same kind of shaping. For now I am near the end of the second sleeve.

I am rather liking the way the shoulders have worked, it is a saddle as I mentioned but with some increases along the armsye/body line. I was inspired by EZ's saddle shaping but hers is bottom up not top down. I've also tweaked the underarm shaping to better mimic the curves found in flat patternmaking - it just helps the sleeve and body better wrap around the complex curves there. Or at least I think so.

The yarn is half silk half wool - and project notes as always on Ravelry.

Na Stella


Friday, July 29, 2016

Still knitting

But for some reason not blogging, but today - an update. There has been progress on many knitted things, a secret swap shawl (gifted already), a cardigan (done but not photographed on the body), and a sweater remade (again worn but no photo evidence). These things I will endevor to photograph and post sometime soon. But in the spirit of keeping it current - today it is about the 'on the needles' stuff.

This is my Fifty-Me cowl, knit in an indulgent cashmere-camel-silk-and baby alpaca blend. (Road to China silken Jewels). I know merino is soft, and silk is soft but this is S O F T - so soft it takes my breath away every time I squish it. The project feels like a total indulgence, comparatively to other things I've knit the yarn is not cheap, but I turned 50 earlier this month and it is my present to myself. Pattern modifications are few - a tubular cast on and faced hem, turmeric colour way to replace the lime shock in the original. Pattern is the three color cashmere cowl by Joji Locatelli. I've seen a few in real life - and recently one was gifted at the local mid-winter swap, which just tipped the scales and inspired me to do one myself.

The other current project makes use of rainbow or EQ Kauni, some how I acquired two 160gram balls (in separate shopping incidents) of this with no clue of what to use it for. My only thought at the time was ohhh what wonderful colours. Anyway - the balls are too tall to fit into my yarn storage drawers easily and the ball bands were getting ripped and torn. The simple solution was to find a way to use them and prevent further storage issues.

The answer was Mon Petit gilet rayƩ by Isabelle Milleret. Only issue was the Original gauge is 22stiches in 4", my gauge is 23, and I didn't want to go looser or more open, so I've adjusted the stitch count and plunged in. I used a simple adjustment, divided the pattern stitch counts by 22(original gauge) and added the result to the stitch count - effectively adding the right amount of extra stitches to accommodate a 23 stitch gauge. My swatch was generous - and slightly worrying was all Orange stripes on my dark green background. Two colours I wouldn't have picked - but I trusted the yarn and by one third of the way down the yoke the colour run shifted to deep blood red, then into purple, then blue, then lilac. Like most colour work it is slightly addictive seeing the pattern emerge - I've now split the yoke into sleeves and body and had to decide what I was going to do with the colour shifts across the body and sleeves. Some knitters work the body and then knit the sleeves letting the colours fall where they fall - other manipulate the colour shifts so the sleeves match the body. You can see some of the 800 variations posted on here. I took inspiration from Marikorose's variation posted on Ravelry, she had a photo showing the mini-balls she split off to keep the sleeve stripes consistent with the body.

I calculated the that I needed enough yarn to knit 140 stiches for each sleeve stripe - to make the sleeves match I need enough for two sleeve stripes. I marked out 140 stiches, and put a slip knot in my working yarn at a distance of 1m from the needles, and knit, when that meter was used, I marked a second meter, and then a third. I calculated I needed 2.25m of yarn to work one sleeve stripe of two rounds and weave in ends. Double that for both sleeves and I need to set aside 4.5 meters of yarn for each body stripe. I measured of 4.25m of lime green yarn, my measure-stick, and I've cut the working yarn and set aside my first sleeve stripe. This method means many ends to weave in - I plan to weave in as a knit where possible - but will keep the sleeves and body matching. Many of the variations finish the stripes at the waist or elbow - and I am leaning that way. I suspect it will get messy when I get to the sleeves - and there are questions around two at a time or one first then the other - but I have a body to work first.

Kauni is not a soft yarn but the colour shifts are amazing - the dark green solid Kauni I've used as the background felt like a brave choice - but I want to step away from the predictable gray and cream. I have played safe and bought enough off white plain Kauni to knit a second one in - remember I have two balls of 160g of the EQ rainbow. Pattern modifications other than gauge were tubular neck edge to replace ribbing, I just like the polished look.

It's getting dark now, and evening food needs thinking about if not cooking, curtains need drawing and both knitting projects call me.

Na Stella


Saturday, April 16, 2016

And so it begins

There is a Saturday knitting group, meets every five weeks or so and each session focuses on a technique or detail. We meet yesterday and the focus was flowers - but I was distracted. Alongside the five-weekly topics there is a year long project - this year is is a colour work challenge. The goal is to explore some aspect of colour work and develop a better understanding. Lorna, group inspiration and leader is working with a knitting belt and traditonal fair isle patterns and her own hand dyed yarn. Others a working tams or colour work tubular scarves and exploring different combinations of colours. Me - I am planning to become more proficient with a knitting belt and the 2+1 arrangement of long dpns.

Once I decided what I was going t work on I ordered some shorter needed, Etsy provided these three sizes in stainless steel, from BobNWeave, there are lots more sizes on offer but these work with the fingering yarns I like best for colourwork. EBay provided a cheap and cheerful all round set of 11 sizes from 1.5mm to 5mm, also in stainless steel.

So with needles sorted and no excuses with the camp sweater all done and off at camp - I began.

The first challenge for a left handed yarn handler like me, one who works with both yarns in the left hand was to fathom out how best to tension the yarns with a belt supporting the right needle. I decided the best thing was to knit a swatch.

I picked some yarn similar in weight to my pectoral yarns and began. At first I tried to carry both yarns in the right hand - and that produced interesting results, that is to say the tension of the foreground and background yarns was very very different. Long ago, before I converted to knitting with two yarns held in the left hand I had briefly tried to knit with a colour in each hand - and found it almost impossible to remember which colour went with which hand movement. The coordinated amongst you will laugh, probably out loud, but even when I could see the orange yarn was in eb left hand - my brain seemed to take an age to work out that it was the left hand, that one there that I had to move. So with the knitting belt I avoided working with a yarn in each hand - until nothing else worked and then eventually after consultation with knitting friends and Ravelry group who all asked 'if I had tried a yarn in each hand' I thought insipid revisit the technique.

I'm glad i did, and glad that others kept recommending I try - as this time, many years after my initial tries my eyes, hands, brain all seem to be better at working together. You might notice that the practice swatch begins with ropey tension and ends with much more even tension between the two yarn colours,

And so I begun my knitting belt project, a tubular cowl, designed by Wendy Johnson, the Leftovers Cowl in the real yarns (not that the other yarns were imaginary -- just they were not the ones selected for the project). So far so good, I'm eager to knit up all the brown and work the patterns in the various shades of pink. The pink yarn is Schopel Wolle Zauberball 100, in Villa Rosa, a single, and the blue is from the same manufacturer but applied yarn named Admiral in a lovely soft deep blue. The orange chain is my provisional cast on - all easy to be unzipped when the cowl is done and the two ends ready to be grafted together for a seamless join.

The project and details are listed on my Ravelry page, here, the Makkin Cowl. Makkin is, I am told, the Shetland name for a knitting belt, and also the practice of knitting with a belt.

Na Stella.