Friday, August 28, 2009

Finished objects of beauty*!

Bayerische is done, all done, grafted, off the needles and the ends woven in ... done, done, done.
Today its all about Bayerische, apologies if you are tired of the green sock saga, but today it really is all about the green sock, the 110 day sock as I have renamed it in Ravelry. Once I knew that today was day 110, well it seemed that I had to finish it today or tomorrow (day 111), because the 114 day sock just didn't have the same ring to it.

Last night I reworked the toe of sock number two .. only that time the sock ended up too short ... sighing, I frogged it back and decided that it might be time to frog the toe of sock number one as well. I thought it would be easier if I worked both sock toes at once .. so spent the rest of the evening manipulating stitches and rounds and needles, and working and frogging until both socks were at the same stage. There is an odd tension between the stretchy 1x1 twisted rib of Bayerische and the number of stitches needed to fit all the pattern-work in that makes standard sock guidelines about length before working the toe not apply. This sock is one of those exceptions to the i-before-e rule of length and toe and heel formula. But this sock is so worth knitting, really worth it, even if I did knit 5 toes to finish. Today whist Poppy was at ballet I knit both toes to the tips one last time, and grafted them closed.

I wove the tails in using my current favorite technique for weaving in ends. In this method you pick the path the yarn takes and replicate it with the yarn end as you weave ... making the weave nearly invisible. There is a tiny thickening where the weaving is - but that soon beds into place. Once blocked it can be very difficult to see where the weaving is.

On the outside ... no evidence of any weaving at all :-)

Near the rib top of the sock, on the inside of the sock I wove the tail in down one side of a knit rib, there is a rhythm to doing this, I spiral the needle clockwise down one side of the stitches scooping them up onto the needle.
Then I pull the tail gently firm and turn the work, before spiraling the needle up the other side of the rib stitch.

Once that is done, I pull the yarn gently firm and snip off the extra yarn. Again all that is visible is a slight thickening of the stitch. I try and leave a few millimeters of yarn spare .. as sometimes if I snip it to short the end works its way to the outside and sticks out like a little tuft. I like this technique of weaving in, Lorna showed me at a glove workshop some years back, and she used it on the outside of the fingers and once she gave the glove finger a tug - the weaving disappeared like magic.

Today was another sunny day, so I chose to work on the front stairs .. and had my furry friend Yo-you keep me company. There was even yarn play ... carefully controlled yarn play ... but yarn play all the same.

Finally the evidence - two completed toes - closed and finished.

And this is my weaving egg, I do have a sock darning mushroom, but use this little wooden egg to pad out the toe while I weave it closed. The mushroom is larger and flatter, and not really a good fit for a toe. I'm not sure what the egg was made for, other than decoration, but it fits inside a toe quite nicely. I bought it in a trade-aid craft shop, its made of wood (they do sell stone ones as well) and it does duty very very well.

So ... next ... a sock the opposite of Bayerische, fast and furious with thick yarn and thick needles. Yes, really .. so unlike me that its fun, I started it at knit night and its growing fast, I'll show you next time, promise.


* - I am usually modest- but do think these are beautiful, although that is owed in part to several other people, Eunny Jang for the beautiful pattern, and to Morag of Vintage Purls for the indi-yarn, and Lorette who asked on EJ's blog how to make these knee highs and got me thinking about how she was right - they would make a great knee highs ... me I 'just' did the knitting, all of it, two times over (once for each sock), some of it twice or thrice :-) (maybe I'm a little giddy at them finally being done).

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Again so close .. and yet....

not there yet. As usual in the final throws of a project, I've become quite project monogamous, working solely on Bayerische. I think I'm on my last repeat of the pattern across the instep before decreasing away 12 or so stitches and working the toe. You might have noticed I've frogged the toe on the first sock, as that sock is too long ... for my foot. The foot of Bayerische is knit until a complete pattern repeat before decreasing out 12 stitches in pattern so the toe doesn't flare once the twisted traveling stitch pattern ceases. Problem is a complete pattern repeat is around 1.5 inches, and for me I needed to stop knitting well before the pattern repeat was done. I need to remove at least one inch of the foot, maybe more - when I tried these on with shoes ... it was clear the sock foot was too long. Having already knit a toe ... I understand what the decreases are doing and I'm sure I can work the 12 decreases into the pattern on whatever round I need to.

I've had a good few days at work so far this week, I don't know if anything is sorted but I know what I think and have accepted there are different practices and approaches (even if mine is the better for lots of reasons). Like many academics I tend to feel most problems can be solved by ordering a few good books, partly as evidence to back up an argument, but also to check in with current practices. So that is what I've been doing. Berg had a summer sale and I was able to pick up 5 titles for 5 GBP each (sorry can't find the pound symbol only the dollar sign) each, then I decided that there was a gap in my library around different approaches to draping for design so I went on a bit of a splurge. End result I've got Draping : Art and Craft in Fashion Design by Annette Duburg & Rixt van der Tol coming from Germany, it looks wonderful, and two others (Building Patterns by Suzy Furrer & the School of Subtraction Cutting by Julian Roberts) coming from the Center for Pattern Design(CPD). Ed, at the CPD has been great, even to the point of checking out the weather and time zone difference between where he is and where I am. Plus I have a second hand copy of Draping for Fashion Design by Hilde-Jaffe and Nurie Relis
coming from Amazon - gotta love the prices of those second hand books. I'm sure nothing fundamental has changed since I learned how to drape - but there are always fresh approaches and different methodologies to try.

so that is me, checking the mail box, although It will be next week before any arrive, 8-14 days international shipping, in the meanwhile I'll be knitting the same socks as I have been for the past 100+ days .. and taking it easy
na Stella

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Yup - Sunday night knitting was good, so good in fact that the
heel has been turned and the gusset is working its merry way away :-)

Well, no its not working itself, I'm working it .. but we are onto the sole of the sock now, the sole ....the sole, this sock has sole.

and you know what is after the sole?
the toe!

na Stella (smiling and knitting)

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Well, it feels like spring, its not late September .. but it is warm, sunny, we have lots of windows open, and we ate lunch outside, the kids are in tee shirt sleeves, unofficially to me its spring. I also know this because for the second weekend in a row we have aired the house and cleaned under and behind and in those places that usually get ignored. Spring cleaning. I know also because Bear has been working in the garden, cutting the grass, clearing weeds and wanting to buy new plants. Spring it is, it must be, and I'm still knitting, stitching as well but mostly knitting. Today I am so close to the heel of Bayerische, so close, Hemlock Ring grows as only center out blankets can ... increasingly slowly, and I got sidetracked by some lovely vintage wool fabric into making a pinafore dress for Poppy.

First Bayerische, these are starting to feel like the never ending socks, I know they grow longer, and that each night I work on them is a pattern repeat done ... but gosh - they seem to have been on the needles f-o-r-e-v-e-r. In reality I started knitting these on May the 12th ... making it only a little more than 3 months, 103 days to be precise ... which is a long time to be knitting the same pair of socks. For me that is .. socks are usually quick little numbers that take only a month and a half at best. Some one, any one please stop me if I cast on for a knee length fiddly chart driven sock after I'm done .. only joking ... the masochist in me is thinking of knee high colour work socks ... just kidding (I think). I do need a few more pairs of shorter socks - two pairs ran wore out earlier this year ... and when I go to my sock draw too many days after wash day .. sometimes it is bare of hand knit socks. Truth is I've cast on 10 other projects since starting Bayerische .. and finished 9 of them.

The other project is growing both fast and slowly, Hemlock Ring, fast because there is pattern work every 5th round, slow because the stitch count is getting higher and higher with every 5th round. I'm at line 41 of the Feather and Fan section, so that means I'm on my 88th round, There are 122 rounds in total, but because of the every increasing numbers of stitches ... I'm not even half way there. I have 312 stitchs right now,, which takes a lot longer to knit around than the 8 I started with, the cast off round has 568 - longer still. There was a little frogging earlier on, I had tried to knit without section markers .. which was not a good idea, so I frogged and reknit with markers in place and now all is fine, my stitch counts and the pattern match up. The huge eyelets that from the base of each of the petals are cute .. and look - as I knit it seems like a little Octopus within is watching me, or Owl .. I can't decide. My handspun gotland is turning out to be much fuzzier than the yarn JF used in his version, I'm not sure how much detail will remain visable after the washing and blocking .. instead of clear crisp detail my yarn has a halo of fuzz and a silky heavy hand so should be nice and weighty and warm even if the detail is hard to see.

A few weeks ago there was a fabric sale at work, one of the ones where a member of the public brings in fabric to 'sell to the student's. Staff count as students at those sales. The content of those sorts of sales are usually hit and miss, often as not complete overpriced misses. The last sale was about average on fabric but great on price - I scored amongst other things a great length of vintage wool Challis in a very retro paisley print. I thought it would make a stunning little pinny for Poppy, so set about drafting a pattern and testing it. The way the process goes, is one makes the pattern and then cuts a toile out of inexpensive fabric to test it before making the final garment. I was going to use calico (the traditional toile fabric), but decided to use up some left over denim. Some times I take short cuts, I had the pattern made but had not traced it off and added seam allowances .. so I just chalked them in place before I cut. I love doing this, just knowing how and practicing my craft gives me confidence :-D

And this is the finished dress, hanging in the wardrobe ready for school tomorrow ... not perfect, but good enough. Poppy requested the velvet band ... and who am I to say no. My idea is she could wear it with a dark or orange merino skivvy and black tights and either black or pink shoes (she has both), but in truth Poppy will probably try to wear it with a teal merino, and stripped hose .... she has a style all of her own making. And excepting the days she wears her dusky pink and white heavy weight angora hand knit jacket with her yellow flip-flops, with an old opp-shop tee shirt, and her green teal bike pants ... she usually looks ok.

And the practice dress, the toile? Well it fitted so well I dug around in my notions stash and found a pretty velvet ribbon trim, and some snap tape. I plan to finish this ... so after over-locking the raw seams and stitching on the trim ... Poppy will have two new dresses. I am planning a sort of easy finish, old fashioned pinking and edge stitching to stabilize the edges .. the denim is very heavy ... so I want to keep the edges a single layer.

The weekend is nearly done, I'm looking forward to reaching the heel on Bayerische tonight .. and turning it Tuesday (Spinning monday night so no knitting). Work tomorrow, Monday, where I'll decide if I'm pushing a point with some colleagues or letting it go ... some things just become to much trouble to protest much over, and other things are worth a fight. I've mellowed on this one since Friday ... but only in I can see a way to leave it be and address the taught content gap in the classes I teach rather than across all the courses we teach.

Take care
na Stella

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

In today's politically correct child rearing climate is it considered ok to ....

give a baby Hemlock?
Jarad Floods (aka Brooklyn Tweeds) Hemlock Ring Blanket that is, which is what I'm doing. Occasionally I wonder if I'll tell the expectant mother the name of the design ... I'm not sure. By now you will have realized this is the introduciton to my next new project, yet another baby blanket, round this time and not square, and today I've also got a new toy to share.

Hemlock ring, I've admired this blanket for ages ... JF posted his way back in August 2007, and I was a confirmed internet-knitter at that stage, well and truly. I had been blogging for 18 months prior to that, and on KR for at least a year or more before I blogged. Which means that Hemlock Ring has been in my queue for around 2 years .. it is a beautiful blanket - shawl - doily, whatever it is in the gauge it is knit. I suspect that part of the charm lies in the contradiction of the lace pattern traditionally used for fine yarn being subverted by heavy thick tweedy yarn, and the name. Oh that name ... gotta admit the name has a certain appeal. There is a new baby on its way at work .. Pip is having a boy to join her little girl (named Stella, the girl not the boy), and Pip is amazing, so worth knitting a lace blanket for. I'm using my handspun gotland. I had spun a heavier blue gotland fiber for Pip's blanket ... and so as you do Saturday 30 minutes before going out to the guild meeting set about turning the skeins into tidy cakes of yarn. I checked the pattern ... and didn't have enough, stash-diving I found a beautiful dark grey gotland handspun that would compliment the blue beautifully. With 15 minutes to go - I wound 3 skeins of grey into cakes and threw that into my knitting tote to take.

Center out things are quick starts ... a few rounds and the pattern makes nice shapes. This blanket is no exception ... 2 sessions and I've completed the center, the flower petals and almost all the the transition section to the feather and fan lace. The gotland is fuzzy ... so you can't see much detail ... but the grey is dark and warm and soft and seems to me perfect for a little boy baby. My plan is grey center and blue edges.

Do you remember that I made myself a hackle with a little help from the cubs? On line resources for DIY hackles commonly show people making use of long tined plastic combs ... but a fellow local knitter and spinner A had tried that and reported that plastic combs don't stand much wear and tear. Hearing that I decided to make mine from the longest smooth nails I could find. It worked, but it was wobbly. My home made hackle is still functional, and intact ... but some of the nails are wobbly, they have not fallen out but the feel like they might. Bear and I planned to make a second, an improved model but needed to find tines longer than the nails we had access to locally. I approached Majacraft about selling me tines, and as an afterthought asked them also to price making a hackle. Several emails back and forth discussing sizes, and types of wood and tine prices and clamp systems ... I realised that Majacraft's wood-meister Baz would make it quicker and neater than I could even with Bears help. So I ordered a custom made Hackle ... which arrived very quickly, and once I sourced clamps to fit has now been tested ....

and approved of. This is hackled and diz'd Tally-Ho Romney fiber. Now Tally Ho are a local, Otago fiber supplier, and their product is priced well. Very well - the catch is that the processing they use retains a lot of vegetable matter, and well there are noils and neps, many many noils and neps. Noils and neps are what little tangled bits of fiber are called and they are ok if you want to spin a rustic yarn, not so much fun to pick out if you want a smoother more even yarn ... but as I said the fiber is very very well priced. The hackle was perfect ... I followed the proceedure shown in many online videos ... here, and here. My Hackle is 85 cm long with a single row of tines, and while this is a large hackle it allows me to load up and diz off a reasonable amount of fiber in one go. My theory was a longer hackle would allow more consistant blending of fibers, I've tried to blend on the drum carder ... but that isn't as straightforward to do and even a result as you would think, this will allow me to blend nylon into merino or perendale so I can spin durable sock yarn.
Hackling and diz'ing seems almost to easy, and while I admit this will add extra time to my fiber prep, and so slow down my spinning, for now its seems totally worth it to spin even smooth yarns. Besides its not a hard thing to do, and there is a peace about drawing fiber off a hackle through a diz. It is a calming activity despite how dangerous the hackle looks. One thing I've come to accept with age is that preparation really is a key ingredient in getting good results, with painting, with pattern cutting, with photography, with wallpapering and painting, with knitting ... and so I accept it is the same with spinning.

Take care
na Stella

Thursday, August 13, 2009


All done!
13th June to 13th August,
410g, 4 ply Quality yarns 4 ply (Sportweight), 2x250g cones.
Colour Marine,
2.5mm needles, with 2mm and 2.25mm used for cuffs and neckline garter bands.

Knit in the round with some flat bits, but seamless.
Pattern of my own devising, with guidance from Beth Brown-Reinsel's book Knitting Ganseys book, and experience from Lorna's gansey workshop as part of the local Knitters Study Group Program.
Body - hem up
Sleeves - top down to allow additions as he grows :-)

Its not perfect, there are some little things that I wish I'd noticed in time to fix ... but this was a learning curve .. and I love the shoulder fit, the way the garter welts pull the armscye into shape around the shoulder and chest. Very very clever.
take care ... I'm off to work, it is Friday I'll read research updates, and spend the afternoon in a formal checkpoint crit of the students projects, and then end with a meeting. Then home to knit on the next outstanding WIP.

Take care

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

so close he can almost wear it

TJB's gansey is so close he could almost wear it. Well he could wear it but soon won't be able to, Over the weekend and the first few days of this week I completed both sleeves, ripped back the edging on the first sleeve to match the second ... and worked the neck, that means we have a frog report today. I've even woven in the ends ... but Toby can't wear it ... for obvious reasons that will become clear in this post. Knitting camp was good, real good, 12 of us knitted away, threading and dropping beads and making progress on a variety of beaded knitted projects. There was even a night of show and tell and knitting activities planned. I'm keen to go again next year.

I finished the sleeves soon after returning from camp, the first one I had worked with a 2.2 garter rib and an edge of 4 rounds of garter stitch with a sewn off binding. The second I worked the same only switching to 2mm knitting pins for the garter to stop the slight flare. It worked .. so well I frogged the bind off and garter on the first sleeve back and reworked it on 2mm knitting pins. The rest of the gansey is worked on 2.5mm knitting pins. I think you can see the difference, the sleeve on the left is the firmer edge, the one of the right is looser but is now frogged and reworked.

Then I moved onto the neck, I picked up the live stitches and gartered 4 rounds. My stitch count was 153 stitches ..which was about 58% of my total. I knit Poppy's sweaters with a neckline of 60-65% .. so that seemed a good fit. I don't really like EZ'ds high close necklines, the ones you get when you knit a neckline with a stitch count of 40% of the chest measurement. But this is the opposite and this isn't going to work, its loose and floppy ....and it has a sewn bind off which makes frogging more difficult. I'll frog tomorrow night, probably by snipping and pulling a thread and reknit it with fewer stitches ... and maybe shorter? Toby wanted it tall so he could tuck his chin into it .. but we will see.

And Camp Knitting, where I was knitting Rani ... this is my progress. 2 stands of mohair laceweight and size 11 beads on 2mm needles ... sublte. I love the shine and the fuzz and the colour and the softness, but I will rework it with larger needles as it is a bit firm. Its also long, to long for a cuff for a 7 year old so I'll knit it shorter. I think the beads are to small to show up in pattern, so I might just work random amounts of beads on the right side rows. Gansey first.

And last a knitted star, Sunday was Elizabeth Zimmermans birthday, or it would have been if she was still knitting. I didn't discover her until after her death in 1999 ... but she has influenced my knitting and living a lot. Lorna, camp organiser and knit guru found little things to make in the August section of EZ's Almanac ... christmas decorations. This little star is five rows of garter and a tiny seam. And I'm still floored by the knowledge the lady was thinking of and designing and making Christmas decorations in August!

We had good news tonight, N (C on ravelry) is to quit her more than full time stressful day job and resume a more civilized life, working only a few days of the work week, we celebrated her birthday with a dinner out, and she promised to become once again a regular at our spinning and knitting nights.

ok - take care I'm off to the frog pond .. or the spinning wheel, I'll decide when I get to the lounge :-)

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


is how this post will go, I'm packing two bags, one to take away at 5:20 am tomorrow morning , Yup -I'm as shocked as you are but that really is the pick up time to get to the airport and catch the plane. the other bag is for Saturday, I return Friday night, and Saturday I leave for a 2 day knitting retreat. I am terrified I'll forget something in the rush, like oh ... you know undies or Pj's or real my stove top espresso.
I've been knitting the second sleeve on Toby's gansey, and I've added a bit, there is still a bit to go. I hope there will be progress by the next post, next week. Because of knitting camp I'll not get a chance to post Sunday.

I've also been practicing my Tambour work, and look I can Tambour fabric that isn't see thru! I'm amazed. Two ladies came to to work this week to sell on a departed friends stash .. and in the mix of things I got some scraps of this blue wool. Its a little like a blanket, with a slight open weave and the colour was enough to prompt me to go off to a local embroidery shop and find a skein of hand dyed to suit. I needed to order tambour hooks in the two larger sizes to work with this weight of cotton .. but so I'm managing with the largest hook I have. I'm really pleased with this, and feel a little more practice and I'll be able to work a scarf in squiggles. The blue wool fabric is very soft .. and while there isn't much, there possibly is enough for a short scarf. Who knows a few more weeks or months and I might even be at a stage that I feel ready to attempt bead-work and sequins.

Thursday and Friday I'm off to our annual professional educators conference, and then camp .. For which I've done a little prepareation. I've fond a beaded wrister, Rani, in the latest knitty that could be a cuff for Poppy's ballet cardigan. I'll have to work it smaller, as seven year olds have skinny wrists .. but if I knit two and then pick up on one edge .. it would work as the cuff of a sleeve won't it? I also put together a little tutorial for Puncetto braid .. as there is a show and tell session. I'll try and make a video for the next post or two just in case others want to know how, a quick google showed very little on Puncetto lace, and nothing on Puncetto braid and yet it is a simple rhythmic system of making quite pretty braid.

ok .. off to pack and check that I have everything I need, and to bed early
na Stella

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Yes, no - maybe?

Today, Sunday in our part of the world, and its a post with something new, something nearly there, and something that isn't as I would have it in a perfect world. Its a cool winter day, clear, and fine with no hint of rain, but - no sun. The warm yellow spot is hidden behind light grey clouds, so its cold, with no hint of light brightness to warm the house. A good day to knit.

The second sleeve on Toby's gansey grows, it grows more slowly than it should, for I frogged all the patterned section back to the pick up edge last night and began it all again. I made an error, one of those that experienced knitters shouldn't make but probably do more than they will admit. I knit the pattern as I thought it was, with two knit stitches and one purl stitch between the ladder pattern and the basket weave pattern. Unfortunately there was one knit stitch and 2 purl stitches between those patterns on the first sleeve ... so they did not match. At all - I tried to convince myself that it did not matter, that 43 rounds was to many to frog for a simple reversal of a purl and a knit stitch, I told myself that 10 year olds don't need perfect ganseys (even if their mothers liked to make them), I even tried to drop the wrong stitches down and hook them back up in sequence ...but really it is better to re-knit and make it right.

This is my new project, brand new, planned, and anticipated and ready to go. I bought some of Marnie Kelly's mohair lace-weight, two skeins, to knit as one and ....

beads! Look pretty, pretty sparkly beads in just the right shade to hide amongst the mohair fuzz and just enough shine to catch the light and sparkle. This is to be two things, first it is my project at the Annual Knitters Retreat workshop, its beaded knitting this year. And second this should be Poppy's ballet wrap. For my littlest is now a ballet girl, something I never really pushed for, a tad to girlie for me. But she has turned in toes, tight hips apparently and ballet is a good solution. Now the ballet gear available is ok, leotards (are they called that?), little floaty skirts, tights and shoes, they are all fine. But the wraps and cardigans are all shamelessly cheap, acrylic or cotton lycra, without an ounce of real natural fiber to keep little dancers in dance studios warm. I'm hoping to knit this in the round but I've yet to find a pattern for one knit that way. It may involve steeking ... I'll start the sleeves at camp .. and work up to the body. My time at camp will be working out the details of how and where the beads can be. Hannah Fettig's Whisper cardigan is a little bit of an inspiration, as is strangly Tubey and even perhaps GFS (I've knit two of those and they are sort of related to Tubey).

And the last project report is my single thumb-less Signe mitten. One is done, sans thumb but ...

you see there is a little problem, for Signe is too small for me. I'm taller than the average knitter, and I have long fingers (ok and feet), and Signe is just over an inch to small. Highly disappointing ... but there you go. Signe was written for Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn, and instead I avoided superwash sock yarns and went for Bendigo Mills 3 ply. I wanted the floats to felt a little, not snag. For now I'm just looking at it and wondering what to do, do I knit the other and find some one with smaller paws, or abandon this and learn from my mistake and knit a pair in sock yarn from my stash (or source more sock yarn), or both. What I do know is that I ended up with 3 projects that needed graphs to track the pattern as I knit, Signe, Bayerische, and TJB's Gansey. That made social knitting more challenging and I'm not in a rush to take on more projects with charts, in fact I feel a need for chart free knit-space. Signe can wait, for now. The need to be chart free probably means that the ballet wrap will have freeform beading rather than precisely planned bead placement .. unless I decide to chart it. I'm weird like that, knowingly planning things that are not the easy route.

Enjoy your sunday .. take care, relax
na Stella
(Oh, and the nearly there was the gansey, the new is the beaded lace mohair ballet wrap, which means the not-quite-as-I-would-want-it is Signe mitten)