Friday, February 27, 2009

Owls are done, done done done !

That is right, my Owl cardigan is done, all done, 24 little pairs of eyes all stitched on (48 buttons), and a tape closure hand stitched into place.
So its done, and today is a bit of a tour of the steeking and finishing of Owls. After the last post I was poised all ready to cut the steek .... so I did cut the steek, Bear videoed it so I could share that steek-moment that with you. What I love about this video, (it is ok to love ones own video's isn't it?) is the sound of the scissors cutting the yarn, crunchy-snip, snip, snip, sort of freaky.

When done the cut edge looked like this, so neat and clean. I think this is the second time I've used Anna Zilboorgs 3 stitch hand sewn steek technique, and I love it, just love it. So quick, no machine to haul out of the cupboard, there is no fraying, at all, and very little bulk, wonderful!

Once cut, I tried Owls on, and liked the fit. A huge relief, 'cause once you steek, well frogging after steeking is technically and theoretically possible ... but even I don't want to go there, now or ever. Of course after I cut the steek, I needed to decide what sort of band to add. After frogging an already knit neckband of complex 2.2 rib/cable matching the cuff and hem, I thought a either a plain 2.2 cable, or garter. EZ uses a lot of garter bands in her cardies and they look simple and sweet. I picked up stitches along the front, knit up the stitches on the cable at the neck, and picked up the stitches along the other front ... and decided to try the 2.2 rib. I liked the way it was working out.

I knit a few more rows back and forth on the neck band, to make it taller, some how collars seem to need more than the front bands do. The front band width was determined by the width of the black snap tape I had bought for this. I cast off with a 2 stitch i-cord bind off ... yes my favorite bind off, stable, with a little give and no roll when added to a rib. Bear videoed that as well, so I'll post that next time.

Then I stitched on all the 48 teeny tiny 6mm button eyes, which took a night and a day, well not quite, I started Friday night and finished Saturday morning after a wee sleep. I do admit to waking early, and instead of having a Saturday lie in, rising to finish the button stitching ... one by one my family joined me, seemingly unsurprised at finding me in the living room toying with my knitting at such an early hour. After breakfast I continued to stitch away, attaching the black tape to the fronts. At this point my certainty that my choice of closure would look ok wavered a little, the black was so black, the tape so prominent on the left side, I realized it would show every time I wore it open, and I imagined that would be a lot of the time. I wondered if a black tape was in fact a good idea, or if it should have been white. I realized also that while it was not to late for a zip, it was frog territory if I did indeed decide I wanted buttons after all and not obvious black tape with snaps ...well I was going to have to live in hilly swampy difficult remote inaccessible frog country, and I'd have to search to find just the right buttons.

And then it was done, and I tried it on, and as per Kate's instructions, admired it and asked the family to admire it .... even Yo-yo seemed to know knitting was on show. She has become a knitters cat indeed.

I've submitted my Owls away to Kate's Parliament of Owls, where although they are more like Owlets, they are in some very global and good company. And Parliament of Owls, is apparently the correct term for a group of these cute yet dangerous birds, I found other terms for groups of things that also amuse me. Finer details for my Owlets- can be found in Ravelry, but briefly 4mm needles, some 3.25mm, 5 stitches to the inch, and 5 weeks to knit, Quality Yarns Merino with 10% alpaca Knups(?), and of course based heavily on Kate's Owls.

... and my other knitting projects? Well Toby's sock grew a little too long, so that needs frogging, and I need to dig deep in my knitting basket and locate the gansey swatch I was working on before these Owls derailed me. Oh ... and the latest Interweave knits arrived, personally I've re-named it the lovely cardigan issue. So many to choose from, so little time to knit them all.

ok ...take care, make time to knit and walk and dance, and rest
na Stella

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

You won't believe what I did....

I frogged the yoke back to just above the Owls, yes I did. It was looking like this ....

and on the front, the same, nearly finished with only a steek and and front bands to go, with or without the cat. Yo-yo again thinking its all about her.

Something bothered me, and it took a discussion back and forth with a knit-sib online to come to the conclusion that it was a nice yoke - but it was not the yoke for me. The yoke didn't fit my shoulders as well as it could .. and it felt ... well cluttered.
Less is more, look in the mirror and take one thing away, simplicity, clean, uncluttered, lean, balanced
these are all words I bear in mind when I design, and this yoke bothered me - some, a little, ok a whole lot. And yeah - I get the irony of knitting a sweater with 24 little Owls around the yoke all with a pair of tiny black eyes ... that is 48 little black button eyes, and saying I want pared down and uncluttered. I get the conflict there, even after adding cables to the cuffs and hem - a knitter can dream can't they, of uncluttered and clean design? I suspect what I realised was, amongst other things the clutter of the cabled rib around the neck threatened to overwelm the Owls, and it was always meant to be all about the Owls. If I could have knit the sweater in the heavy gauge of Kates original, which would be way too thick and warm for me, then I'd just have knit Kates design as is (maybe with a little more evenly distributed shaping). But I wanted finer yarn, and so had to regauge - which is essentially the same as working it out from scratch ... and things change when you do that.

So without a real firm plan, I frogged, hooked the end of the yarn up to the ball winder and wound off yarn until only the Owls were left. Surprisingly liberating really, and quick.

Then I put all those little 4mm loops back on a needle and knit back up. I had a bit more of a plan, you see although I liked the idea of the neckline ribbing matching the hem and cuff ribbing - that was the thing making it look cluttered. So I planned a plain stocking stitch yoke, raised a little at the back and fitted with invisible decreases. I tried a centered 3 into 2 decrease, and it worked, so I alternated short rows across the back and shoulders with decrease rounds until the stitch count was about 60% of the K for this cardigan. K is my knit guru's (Elizabeth Zimmerman) key number for a sweater, its the number of stitches to fit the bust/chest. She suggest that the ideal number of stitches to fit the neck is 40% of K,and maybe up to 50% for a child, but I like 60%. 60% produces a lower neckline, 40% is quite a high fitted neck line. The invisible centered decreases I used, show up barely as a slip stitch, and is far less noticeable than any other decrease I've found so far, and in this tweedy yarn the decreases almost vanishes. I worked it like this:
  • slip 2 together as if to knit, replace both these two back onto the left hand needle, knit 3 together thru the back of the loop.

Then I cast off across the 3 stitch steek, and put the live neck stitches on a cable with ends caps. I had to make a trip to a LYS to find steek stitching yarn, but there was none to be had that was fine enough and of the right shade of grey. I had at least 3 fine grey yarns at home but all were too dark, too brown or too light. I eventually found some Anchor embroidery wool that was much the same thickness as the two ply yarn I was knitting with, but was four ply so I could split it into a finer 2 ply yarn to stitch with. So that is what I did.

I stitched the steek, removing my center front basting as I worked. I'd added that a few days ago just to check I still had my steek marker in the right place when I positioned my Owls. First I whipped the center stitch to its neighbor all the way to the top on the left side ....

And then I worked the other side of the steek stitches, whip stitching the right side in place.
Now its washed/blocked and it drying with a little help from an Oil filled radiator. Just as well for this cold damp weather - I feel totally justified with having a heater on in the family room. My latest plan is to knit the neck band and the front bands at the same time, and in a plainer 2.2 rib, not the fancy-s'mancy cabled rib of the cuffs and hem. I'm gonna cut it when its dry .. .and hope bear is there with the camera.

and on the side ... well I've been playing with a sock for Toby, from ... well I was going to say boring (but its not really boring), and plain(but its not plain) - maybe its regular Regia sock yarn.
Toe up, with a start inspired by Anna Zilboorgs Magnificent mittens cast on. I've turned the toe around so the continuious knit band runs up the middle of the instep, and I'm thinking of instep gusset increase and a widening linen stitch panel .... what do you think? I trace of the feet of people I knit socks for, and use them as a size chart as I knit.

and soap - some one anonymous asked me to share the recipe, well I used the online soapcalculator. For the sweet orange and bergamot soap I used 76% olive oil, 13% sweet almond oil, and 11% hard coconut oil with about 15-20mls each of the two essential oils. I am generous with the essential oils, there is nothing like washing your hands or taking a shower and beautiful scent escaping from the soap - a real luxury feeling. The second was made with 50% rice bran oil, 30% olive oil, and 20% solid coconut oil, with 1/4 cup cocoa, and the innards of a vanilla bean (do the innards of a vanilla bean have a name?) added at trace. It was intended to be a chocolate soap - but appears with the addition of vanilla to be more of a chocolate-cake soap. I used a standard cold process method for both soaps - there are lots of tutorials on line for that. Now both soaps need to dry in the open, for a month or so, and then cure in the hall cupboard for a few months to make them last when we finally put them to use (although we are making use of the scraps from trimming them to size and shape - and they are very very nice).

And the good news, while I've blogged the sweater has been over the heater, and now the sweater feels dry, o-I know it is not yet totally dry, it can't be yet, but nearly ... and will be dry tomorrow ....
next time ... let the steeking begin.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

further than I thought .. look it fits!

It fits, we don't have many mirrors in rooms without clutter but this one in the family room works for photographing Owls. Out the window behind me you can see the wet wet wet, 3 days of heavy rain wetness. With outdoor activity not so easy, and not being fond of soggy, I got a lot of knitting done, and soap making. Which means I've re-knit my Owls, and now I'm far further than I thought I'd be. I have been stressing, a little over the appearance of Owls, did I go to far and add too much, Kate's original Owl is simple with only 2x2 rib, I've thrown in some little cables into my 2x2 rib - and now I wonder if its too much. Less is more and all that. Today there is knitting, only on Owls, and lots of photos, knitting in one piece lets me do that, there is soap making, Sweet Orange and Bergamot as well as Chocolate, yes chocolate soap. That one may or may not be successful - I'll explain why.

Well I sped thru the body, and adding in the sleeves, and then the yoke much faster than I had expected. It was like colour work, those Owls are fun to knit, a case of thinking 'just one more round and there will be necks' & 'just two more rounds and they will have eyes'. I did hold off knitting them so close to the arm-body join. I've seen some Owls that disappear into the armpit, and I didn't want that. I tried a little extra shaping there this time. Usually I follow Elizabeth Zimmerman principles for her EPS sweaters and set aside 8% - but, I'm a pattern-maker and I know that when I draft patterns for woven or knit fabrics the under arm sleeve shape is not straight - it has a little curve. So I set aside 8% less six stitches on both the body and sleeves then used a raglan decrease every 2nd round to decrease those extra stitches away. I thought this would provide more of a traditional pattern making curve where the body and the sleeve join. I think it worked - this sweater is a close fit and there is no pucker under the arms! I found this page showing how to draft a sleeve, and if you look at the under arm curve - its just that a curve, not a straight that the 8% gives you, there should be a matched curve on the body section. So after those 6 rounds where I decreased away the rest of the 8%, I worked a few rounds plain then worked the Owls. I ended up with the tips of the Owls heads 4" into the yoke, exactly where Kate's Owls finished, her Owls are 19 rows high and her gauge 20 rows to 4", add in the extra joining round - and we finished with the yoke the same length ready to being shaping.

There was one other worry with the yoke, Kate decreases fast and furious in her Owl pattern, making 2 stitches of every 3, on two rounds, with only a plain knit round in between. That is a reduction of 66% over 3 rounds isn't it? Kate does this after the Owls and before she uses the short rows to raise the neck .... but I've looked at the few back views of finished Owls on Ravelry, and on Kates Blog, and I was worried that that sort of decrease in my finer gauge would not sit flat, it would be puckered. It is slightly puckered in the image above, that is before any blocking. My worries were compounded when a web knit sib sent me images of her Owls in a gauge near the same as mine and she identified puckering below the decreases. I reasoned that if I worked 10 short rows starting at the left front arm-scye working around the back and stopping at the right front arm-syce, and shortening these by one Owl each row ... then working the decreases, and straight into the rib --- I might escape the same fate. I held onto my plans in the face of puckering on the needles ---

I told my self it would block out, and when worn would be stretched flat, and to prove this might be the solution I steam blocked the puckers ... which did improve them. And the yarn softened, not as soft as the blocked swatch mitt, but softer than the un-steamed knit. So right now I've finished the ribbing, with cables, and I'm not sure if its overcomplicated or ok. I guess I won't know until its done, and with Kate's uncluttered design - well its hard to compete with a well know simple example.

But I did do other things this weekend, I made soap, twice. I used the soap calculator here, and made up a recipe for Olive, Sweet Almond Oil, and Coconut. The Olive and Sweet Almond are meant to give it a creamy lather, and leave the skin moisturized, and the coconut provides a lasting bubbly lather. We flavored that one with Sweet Orange and Bergamot Essential Oils, a generous heavy dash of each as the fragrance fades fast when the soap cures. That was yesterday. Today inspired by a big block of milk chocolate soap we bought a year ago in Oamaru, and still all remember, we made

1kg of Chocolate Soap.
This time I calculated for 50% Rice bran oil, with some Olive and Coconut as well. Similar to the first soap, this should have a creamy lasting lather with good moisturizing characteristics. The chocolate came from powdered Dutch Cocoa, with a little brown food colouring to deepen it, and some vanilla pod seeds. We did wonder if we should add some real melted 85% dark cocoa chocolate - but unusually there was none in the house. Bear added a little vanilla essence as well. I'm worried it has become more of a chocolate pudding than chocolate soap - perhaps the vanilla was to much? But it does look good enough to eat ....

Sunday night, cubs to march thru the obligatory showers and baths, soup for tea to make, and then latter antiques road show to watch (I hope it is on - I have not checked today).
I'll finish casting off Owls, and plan the front bands, and cut the chocolate soap and blog again next week.

Na Stella

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Lets try that again ....

for a third time, maybe this time I'll get it right? You see I thought I was finished knitting the body of Owls, or nearly finished. There was the minor matter of making it a few inches longer, 1.5 inches so not even a few ... and so ... I worked those inches, and stopped to position the side seam point, as you do. For a cardigan or sweater knit in the round, you need to have the side seam marked so the under arm stitches can be set aside ... equally on either side of the side seam. Little things like symmetry there are important.
So I counted the stitches between my left side front and left side back shaping points on the left, 30 stitches. That is easy, count 15 stitches, put in a knitters safely pin to mark the side seam. Turn the work over and count 15 stitches from the right side front shaping point,


that is not right, 15 stitches is not half way between the right side front shaping and the right side back shaping, O .... ooooo, this side has 40 stitches ....

as my 9 year old son would say Dum dum ... dum in an attempt to introduce an element of dramatics. Let me tell you it was dramatic enough inside my head with or without his voiceovers.

I sat there stupidly thinking over and over "they don't match".

It took a cuppa tea, and maybe something stronger, and I hauled the ball winder out of the hall cupboard, and wound off all the knitting till all I had was just the cabled ribbed hem band, and and inch of plain stocking stitch worked above it. Two 50g balls of yarn. That was Sunday Night ....dum dum .... dum and no I did not make photos, some things pass by without a camera recording the happening. Honestly some times that how it should be.

So I knit and I knit and I knit some more, all the while very aware this was the third re-knit of the body ... but now its almost done.
I've knit back to nearly the end of the shaping and it looks beautiful, and pretty much the same as before, but this time there is an equal and matched number of stitches between the left and right side shaping points, rather than being 2 inches more on one side. Yes at 5 stitches to an inch, those extra 10 stitches made 2 inches of difference. And here it is.

Today I report pretty much the same as was reported the last time I thought I had knit the body. Today I started teaching again, a full day with students, so I'm tired and happy - they are a good bunch. Today I received notification informally but assuredly that I had passed the final paper for this which means I don't have completing that final report assignment looming on my to do list anymore, and in the mail I got two patterns for Born to Knit Signe mittens and BK Edith Mittens, gosh they are beautiful. I know this post is all backwards, and I still have to nominate recipients for the Kreative Blogger award (I'm making a list and checking it twice), and I am really enjoying the comments and emails and Ravelry messages with suggestions for Hand Knit designers of note to inspire my students (I'm making another list and checking that twice). Maybe I'll check both thrice? I'll post both soon ... promise.

and Yes, I know why they didn't match, a little point of there being 11 repeats of cable and rib pairs around the hem .. and me thinking there were 10 ... lesson learned.

Please excuse me whilst I knit some more on the body of my Owl sweater, you see its the third body I've knit ... and I'd like it to be the last.

Na Stella

Saturday, February 14, 2009

socks done, sleeves done ... eyes done....

yes chosen (I think), award received, and a note to myself to think of which of the many fellow knit bloggers to nominate, Owl sleeves grow, and the body needs to ... the bags continue to sprout/proliferate/develop, and socks are done with no late nights as payment.

Hello, its Sunday early evening, and I feel like I've just stopped to sit and sup a cuppa tea, its been one of those weekends, you know when you run from one to the next thing, with not much space between anything. There have been so many little things to do and sort and get done ... including knitting. I've finished BSB (Blue Sky Baby), completed two sleeves at once, returned to knit more length into the body, and made a new bag ... and then there is an award (shucks).

First up, Owls, I've finished the sleeves, and tried on the body and decided that the body need a few more inches, 1.5 to be precise to be a good fit on me, so tonight I will set aside the sleeves and work a little more on the body. Which means that in the near future I will have to decide how many Owls, and where they go on the yoke ... cause I'm only inspired by Kate's Owls, and since I'm not knitting the pattern as written, I get to play with things like the ribbing(add cables) and the steeking (cut it up) and the number and type of Owls ...

Then there are the Owls eyes, I could leave them blind ..... or

I had bought these buttons from from a work-mate, who was shutting up her commercial fashion studio and selling off odd stock ... But these buttons gave my Owls huge eyes. I'm worried if I use them I will end up with a row of circles around my yoke as the button eyes might dominate over the cable Owls so ....

a good friend in California sent me these, toy eyes of a size to fit ... very realistic ... with a promise of more, and then ....

and then I found these, 6mm black buttons online at Trademe (I was cheeky and asked the seller if she had black, and she did, we negotiated a price thru the comments, I hit buy now and they were sent very promptly).... which seem the best option bet so far. I've almost decided the front closure will be a snap finish, sliver snaps on a black twill tape set into the steek ... not a zip ... almost but decision not finalized yet. I know I promised photos .. and the tape is in the bottom of my hand bag (its not manage to find a way to a more suitable storage place yet), but ... well I have not had time. Next time?

I've also been working on a project bag for lace, not a bag to take out to knit night, but a bag to store a lace project in that keeps it from getting tangled with other projects. And something more akin to lace than a plastic ziploc, something of a finish and quality to suit lace. So far I have a compartment for the yarn, a section for the lace (or other knitted thing) and a little upside down pocket to tuck the needles into. My idea is each project needs its own bag, and in a knitters basket several projects can all be kept tidy and neat and untangled in separate pretty project bags. I'll keep you posted on how this develops ... as its off to a lace knitter for testing tomorrow. I don't consider my self a propper lace knitter. I know there will be a few more prototypes ... I still have no idea where or why this bag thing is going, but its fun to tag along with my mind as it works over bag construction problems and solutions.

And socks, I finished Blue Sky Baby on Friday morning, Ravlery tells me two other knitters finished earlier .. so I'm happy with an official third place ... not that I was racing or anything you understand.... just so we are clear about that, no speed knitting or staying up late past bedtimes or other heroic acts of knitting were taking place at this house. No Sireee, not by this knitter (this time any way).

and awards, OM-gosh, Jocelyn nominated me, which is amazing (thank you), and I'm just in awe of all the really good bloggers out there .. so I'm going to take my while and think hard and deep about the bloggers to pass this on to.

Monday looms, Friday was our 21st Wedding anniversary, I'm not skiting, as I'm not exactly sure why we lasted so long and others didn't. I suspect we are a little more stubborn (I'll be dammed if I'll give up this person/family), and a little more easy than many others. V-day brought me a new book, Icelandic Knitting - Using Rose Designs by Helene Magnusson. What a bear! That is probably why we are still together, I got him a darkroom safe digital timer - maybe I answered my own question. We are together because we both know its not about gifts of roses and red knickers, but knowing its the knitting history books and darkroom equipment that suits better. Chocolate-dark in or out of the shape of hearts ... now that is a whole different story. Saturday was market festival day, and of course Valentines (I got one - blush - online- blush blush- not bear, blush, blush. blush), today brought a sewing session with a fellow spinner-knitter, and Toby had a friend over ... will you excuse me while I go and play Mum with two cubs and tuck them into bed ready for school tomorrow?

na Stella

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Not first ...

... so not first this time, for a while I thought that I could be the first to finish the Vintage Purls sock club sock, after all I had sock one done, and was well into sock 2 ... but then Monday I was out at spinning, and Tuesday I had a local Spinners and Weavers committee meeting. Then there is work, I'm back at work every day now. And yes I could have knit lace in the committee meeting, and frogged it when I was home because lace and meetings or any social event is not a good mix for me. I could have stayed up way past my bedtime and knit to the wee small hours ... but its a sock. Reason prevailed, and I realised that it is a sock, a very nice sock, an excellent sock, a pretty sock, but still just a sock. My life is not ruled by sock completions ... no it is not. So I knit a little more on the Second Blue Sky Baby sock, but I worked also on my Owl sleeves, two at once even. And I found some really cute and colourful fabric to make bags. You see I might just be selling these in the near future, which is quite cool, of course that is if people want them enough to spend money on them.

Since I wasn't staying up all hours and knitting at every opportunity to finish Blue Sky Baby number two .. I did pick up the ribbed and cabled cuffs of my Owl cardigan and start knitting the sleeves. I tried two at once on one long circ ... but I found that tangley (is that even a word?), so I've switched to knitting two at once on two circs. I like the idea of knitting two things that must match this way, but I'm not convinced I like the actual process. It is muddley, it is slower, and there are always points where the yarn becomes twisted, and the needles catch under or between the two sleeves, or one flips over so the cables of the needles between the two are twisted. But ... the more that is knit, the less it tangles, and the less I have to knit, and sleeves are sleeves ... they need to be the same. I assume my arms are the same lenght, I've never checked and now I'm not sure I want to because ... you know ... what if they are not?
I've picked up a little odd trim to use instead of buttons or a zip - more about that next time, I'm hoping for a street wear effect, and still dithering over buttons. I've been forwarded eye buttons from California (thanks S) and am awaiting some black 6mm ones from a local Trademe trader ... I need both in situ to decide.

And this is where I left off Blue Sky Baby, the progress end, I'm one or two lace repeats of 7 into the little short leg. Then there is just the picot hem and the facing .. to go ....

and another view the other way round. I might not be racing to be the first to complete any more, but I still like the sock and the yarn a lot.

Over the last two weeks or so I've picked up a few fat quarters* of quilt fabric, and fell in love with a few prints that were not in fat quarters so bought half a meter or a full meter of them. I notice I'm attracted to the more graphic and slightly abstract prints. I love crispness in a print ..... and order, and stylism, and a certain boldness.

Here are some of the prototype of the project bags .. I use them to store all that I need for one project, so I can easily grab that project to work on or to take out. The bags have a flat base, and sit open so you just pull out the project and knit, leaving the yarn to feed out of the bag. R - said they were perfect puppy bags .. protecting her ball of yarn from little puppy attacks. M - hung hers from her wrist as she walked around a seminar and knit as she wandered ... I liked that useage.

Each small project bag is just big enough for a center pull ball of yarn, and a sock. The first sock can be folded under the ball of yarn when done ... and the needles tuck away inside. My knitting basket is now full of several of these, each keeping a project intact and safe and not tangled with other projects ... and its slightly surprising how many wips I have in that basket. No I'm not telling, but they are tidier in little pretty bags. I'm working on a lace project bag, and I know just the kind of fabric to line it with, one that can handle pointy needles and I've got an idea to keep the tangles to a minimum.

Now comes a time when I ask a big favour, I'm building a list of knitwear designers, ones that inspire and innovate and challenge thinking about this knitting activity. This list is part preparation for the hand knit elective I'm scheduled to take latter this semester. My own list is forming, but in a few posts I'd like to share it and see who else needs to be on it. Because I'm a teacher, I know I'll get better responses if I give you all a little thinking space ... so for now can you please think about the knitting designers whose work stops you in your tracks, whose work makes you wonder how and sometimes why they did it that way ... and who you follow?

ok - off to do dishes and sit with Toby for Ice Road Truckers ... a 9 year old boys idea of a really really cool tv program.
na stella

*Fat Quarters is a quilting term meaning a meter of fabric that is cut into quarters, and the almost square quarters sold off as a peice. Is a neat way to buy enough fabric to incorporate into a quilt without the hassel of buying 0.25 of a meter strip - it lets you cut larger quilt blocks than buying 0.25 if a meter would.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

A weekend away means

lots of knitting, which is what happened this weekend. This weekend was longer, Friday was Waitangi Day in New Zealand, a memorial day in honor of the signing some 169 years ago, of the Treaty of Waitangi, between many Maori Tribes and the British Empire. Its a public holiday, and there are official functions to commemorate the merging of the two cultures, most held in the far North where the most significant signing ceremonies took place. For us it was a chance to get away and visit my Dad in Waimate, to collect Toby's watch, he left it behind on the last visit, and to just catch up and spend family time together. What I didn't know is that it was a Rugby 7's tournament ... which meant that Dad was planning to watch a lot of the back to back televised games on tv. I'm not generally into watching sport - Oh-I'll cheer a friend or family member on at an event, or turn up for my kids ... but I don't plan to spend an afternoon and or evening sitting down to watch a game, or tournament. The upside is I got a lot of knitting done. I was careful this time, as we have a small sedan, and trips to Grandad with all four of us usually mean the boot is full, and he sends us back with harvests from his fruit trees and his vegy garden. I knew we wouldn't have much boot space ... so I took one sock in progress to knit and my fish bag, with two little scrap balls of left over sock yarn, 2.25mm dpsn to knit fish on, a needle for the sewn cast off.

This is the toe and instep of Blue Sky Baby ... its designed with a french toe, so increases at 6 points, arranged in 3 spokes. In this sock they are very prettily arranged as a V on the top side of the toe,

with the third spoke centered under the toes. This is sock number 2 .. given I had much time to sit outside in the garden, and the evening inside with the Ruby 7's, I finished one sock, and made it up to the gusset increases on sock 2. Have I mentioned it is a pretty sock with a nice level of technical detail in the design? I like it.

Blue Sky baby is an anklet, so a shorter sock, which probably helped my speedy progress, I didn't have to knit a long leg section. I am very impressed by the tech support on this sock, I forgot some important information, and so txt'd Morag Saturday with a plea for help ... she txt'd back with the numbers I needed, and then latter that day txt'd further information that make knitting the sock much less stressful.

As usual - Yo-yo gatecrashed the sock photo shoot, because in her furry little head its all about her, and the only reason we would sit on the front step is to pet her and scratch that secret place that makes her relax and look even more dopey. Don't get me wrong, she is a neat cat, and a good mouser and rat catcher (shudder), and nabs a few birds ... but she can also be pretty dopey at times.

And fish, I added 2 or 3 fish to my haul so far ...I'm on an orange yellow red kick right now ... but I see that there will be a lot of ice blue as ankle socks don't take all of the 100g of hand dyed sock yarn.

so take care
have a relaxing week, its the week before the students descend on us .. and did I tell you in term 2 I'm scheduled to run a 3 week hand knitting elective? Lots to plan for ... I'm thinking they can identify 3 hand knitwear designers (past or present), and learn cast on, cast off, how to read a chart, and a pattern, make a chart and a pattern (after all its a design degree) and then design and make a pair of mitts? What do you think? I'd accept either a pattern for a mitt with swatches, or the mitts themselves ... that way the students get to take on an achievable project, and make something they might actually wear.

na Stella

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Blue sky baby

is the name of the sock in the sock kit in the first mailing of this summers Vintage Purls Sock Club, and it is pretty, so today I'm no longer embargoed and can tell you about the kit, I've completed the body of Owls, and started the first sleeve, which reminds me to provide a link to the cast on that I've used, and I may have found eyes for my Owls, I think, maybe ... maybe not.

Blue sky baby is a very pretty sock, she has a french toe, where the increases are in 3 points, and then a stitch pattern taken from a vintage pattern. I've wound my skein of hand dyed 75% superwash merino 25% Nylon into two 50g center pull balls and made a start. All Vintage Purls socks are toe up, and while she has presented this sock as a bobby sock, that is a short ankle length summer sock, there is enough yarn to knit a longer sock. Honestly I can't decide which version I'll knit, they are both pretty and I'm a sucker for cool blue colourways.

And the secret extra this time (there is always a secret extra right?), is the custom bag! Hand crafted, hand printed, and lined and a nice size for stashing the sock between knitting sessions. Now I have a confession - I was one of the bag ladies, the locals who were part of the team that spent a day cutting and seaming and pressing the bags ... but some how it was all different when I got my kit and the bag was all printed, with two colours and mine to keep, not to hand over for finishing and printing. Plus she kept the sock design and colour way very very secrete, despite having all us bag laddies all over her house as we manufactured the bags.

Blue Sky baby has been distracting me from Owls, but I've managed to complete the body to length and had no more frogging ...fingers crossed. I'm pleased with the shaping, I worked it quicker(fewer rows between decreases) from hem to waist than from waist to bust(more rows between increases), and replaced the last shaping round with two additional shaping rounds where I only increased under the bust. In theory it should be me shaped when done.

So I've set the body aside for now and started the first sleeve, I used the same cast on as for the body. The double start cast on groups the stitches in pairs so seems a good match for a 2x2 rib. Now I just have to decide how much longer the sleeve rib is than the body rib ... I assume it should be longer, but can't explain why.

Today at work I bought 64 buttons, these were spares one of the staff who has shut up her design studio was selling off stock, she had an advt on the notice board. I got them at wholesale rates, 15c each, which makes me pretty happy. They are olive green and semi translucent, and seemed a good match.

That was until I got them home and fitted them to my swatch Owl .... these may be a tad big. Its not easy finding smaller than 10mm buttons around here, so I might just play with sizing up the Owls. they are made using a 2 stitch cable, but if I use a 3 stitch cable ... they will be bigger right? I'll let you know how that goes ... or maybe my Owls just have large eyes? Thanks to my co-Owl knitter on Ravelry, Magpie, I do have other options, and I've been remiss and not trolled thru my own button stash ... I should do that now ...

so take care, while I troll my button stash ....
na Stella