Saturday, February 27, 2010

and then ....

because I can't think of a better name for today's post than 'and-then'. Today it is all about the knitting, Skew II starts, and as before progress is quick, the Green Sweater progresses round and round, and as before progress is quick, and then there is the new Knitters Study Group project. The class this weekend was on Thrumbs (no not thumbs - thrumbs), so I now have thrumbs, and finally a new book on ..... socks. Work is settling, as it always does after the first two hectic weeks of teaching the new academic year, so I feel like there is time to breathe and think of new things. Finally ... today, right after this post I'm sending my secret project away, I have all the things I need to do bar one done (and that is optional and I hope to do that latter this week and send it as a separate file). They haven't asked for it but I thought it might be nice to provide it - and save them time.

So Skew two (Skew II) has begun, and progress is smooth. I was tempted to reknit it as per the pattern on larger needles (thanks for the suggestion), but I think I will try working the leg without the suggested decreases and see how that works first. From a technical point of view I'd like to keep the appearance the same and switching to larger needles can be noticeable at times in stocking stitch.

Then there is the Green Sweater, round and round I go on this one, I have 6" to knit above the armhole steek before setting in a neckline steek. I'm looking forward to that as I have not quite 'got my head around' how the neckline and its facing work. I can see there will be a turn ridge and increases like on the hem ... but have not tried to think thru the mechanics of it yet. On another note I have been quietly lusting over glimpses of the design Ysolda is working on, at a risk of being a mere follower like the masses, there is no shame in that I tell myself, and yes when it comes to Ysolda there are masses of followers, I want to knit this one - its pretty. Oh how when people like Ysolda design such pretty stuff they raise the bar for all knitwear designers. I love the little details of the the leaves and the inset lace, and the raglan merged with a set in seam line is a nice treat after so many designs with raglans or round yokes. High time for a little classic shoulder structure - knit with no seams of course!

Knitters Study Group meet this week, we meet every 5 weeks through the year with one early winter knitting camp for pure indulgent knitting as well. This class was Thrumbing, the technique of knitting in little tufts of fleece to make a fluffy fleecy padded lining. We had home work to do before class, knit the rib for either a hat or mittens - you can see I failed to achieve that before class. I didn't want to waste time in class knitting 2x1 rib for three and a half inches so I provisionally cast on and started my mitten right away. I will work the rib down latter. I'm working from the Favorite Mittens (a reprint and compilation of Fox, Geese and Fences) book, the the hart shaped thrumbs, and so far so good. I think for Poppy, she has the smallest paws in the house. I am working my thrumbs 5 stitches apart - as that makes it easier to alternate the thrumb position (the pattern has the thrumb spacing at 6 stitches). For now I have set this aside - and I will return to it once Skew II is done.

Lastly there is a new book on my knitting shelf, Sock Club, a collection of edited designs drawn from sock clubs. Wonderful, made more wonderful as I had forgotten I had pre-ordered it and its arrival was a surprise. A very nice surprise. One nice feature of this book is that the author/editor has not made any assumption that socks should be toe up or top down, patterns are for both, and there is a section on how to convert from one to the other - very nice. And there was a sock club - the second installment of the Vintage Purls Summer 2010 sock club - no picture, I tidied it away. But its blue, and pretty and lace and colour ... and came with treats - both edible and playful. I might be the only one in the world who things a tape measure could be playful ... but I think not.

Its Sunday here, the weekend has been busy, trips to town for things, sorting others, regular filling the tins with baking and food for lunches during the week. We gave up buying a lot of commercially prepared foods a long time ago - mostly as the amount of fat, sugar, salt and weird other ingredients was disturbing us - and home made tasted better, but the result is that weekends are now when I make the lunchbox fodder, and the home made muesli, and all the other stuff we only buy when we really have no time. The other result is that now when we do buy muesli, pizza bases, or pastry or biscuits/cookies, or such, we find it to salty, or too sweet or too something.

take care, knit well,
na Stella

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Done, all done,

I've been spinning, the same fiber for months, and now its done, spun, plied, washed and dried and off the wheel and ready to knit!. Three fat skeins, 678m (sorry not weighed yet). I think this might be the most consistent yet - I really tried for consistency. Then there is a near break-thru in the Green Sweater, where I'm so close to the end of skein number one (of 5) that I just have to keep knitting. Honestly this week has been a little up there on the busy at work front, so knitting round and round and plying seems to be all I was able to function on. I've totally avoided my Skew issue (more latter).

So spun fibre,look all done, soft, silky and dark. I aimed at sport-weight but it is more of a UK/NZ DK - double knit weight, Aran I think to those who use other terms to describe yarn. My initial aim was to spin enough for a shawl for me, a Danish Working Shawl that tied, but now I'm not so sure. Perhaps I have enough for a skinny shrunken cardigan ...... I will do some wrap counts and see. My other thought was a cardigan or sweater for a cub .... the weight seems to heavy for a shawl (although it would be warm - and our winters are cold and local houses under-insulated ...).

And look! This is so close to the end of the Green sweaters first skein that I am quite excited. So far its just round and round, I'm keeping it classic, just as EZ herself shaped it (perhaps a tad longer as I'm taller than the average bear), so round and round, no waist shaping, no decreasing, just round and round. I can do that, and do that well right now.

And Skew .. well I appreciate the suggestion to use larger needles, and I have done that before (Brother Amos I think - from 2.25mm up to 3.25mm), and it works, but I really feel decreasing to 50 stitches is just a tad to many to loose, and I want to play with that solution first. Skew has an anatomically correct shaped toe, first one shapes the toe, and then the foot, and its not as auto-pilot as a standard sock toe is, right now I need to blob on the sofa after a day of first day classes for students and just knit - round and round. Right now Skew isn't quite as auto-pilot as I need .... perhaps after Friday I'll be ready to take on Skew Sock II.

Take care
And if you are olympic knitting, I'm here, in the stands clapping and cheering and Mexican waving - and knitting - really I am. I've even jumped up and dropped a center pull ball of yarn in my excitement at some of the work on show. Honest I have.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

mmmmmm ...

..tight, my skew fits beautifully, but it is a tight fit to pull this sock on. I'm at the top of skew sock one, and dithering. I could live with it and knit the other sock the same, just as the pattern writes ... but I'm not sure I'd be keen on reaching for socks that needed to be stretched and eased on. Part of my problem must be self inflicted, I always knit socks on 2.25 mm needles, always. And they fit, always, well when I use a pattern they fit (there was that time it took me 3 goes to get the right number of stitches for socks for Toby - but I was making that sock up as I knit). Skew is written with 2.25mm needles, but with 7.75 spi, I usually get around 8.5 spi. Usually this isn't a problem ... but because Skew is written with the rounds at about 45 degrees to the 'spine' of the foot and leg Skew is less stretchy than more conventional socks.

Now Skew fitted beautifully as I worked the foot, as I worked the heel and even once I began the leg. But ... when I decreased away the last of the gusset stitches as I worked up the leg - Skew suddenly became tighter and tighter to pull on. I want to reknit the leg without removing the extra gusset stitches, but not on this sock. I'll leave this sock and work Skew II, and work the leg with the extra stitches left in, in the hope it will be just enough to make it a little bit easier to get on.

Having said all that, and being in a dither about what is the best solution, I love this sock. As I worked the short rows to straighten out the top - the sock reduces down to 50 stitches - and this is where I suspect the 'to-tight-to-pull-on-easily' comes from. 50 stitches is a small sock to pull over a heel, the 50 stitches only exists for one round, immediately it becomes 70+ stitches as extra stitches are made to fill in the short row turning gaps (no wraps required!). Even neater is how the short rows stop 2 stitches short of each other and the stitches created in those gaps every 2 stitches becomes the purl in a 2x1 rib. Very very very neat and clever and resolved. Have I mentioned how much I like the structure of this sock?

I'm thinking that when I knit sock 2, I can just leave the extra stitches in at the base of the leg, and then work short rows as written, and will have far more than 50 stitches for that last row before the rib .. and if I cross my fingers and toes, then I just might have a skew that is easier to pull on, then rework the first skew to match. No point frogging and re-knitting if the modification might not be any better. I'll let you know how it goes.

take care - I'm off with bear, and the cubs, its sunny and sunday ... and the chores are 'mostly' done :D

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


I couldn't wait ... look, this is how Skew goes,

First there is really weird gusset increasing, initially at two points, but then there is shaping at a third point - at this point is all trust, and wonder

Then the grafting, where a wee flap thing forms thus ....

and then a few rounds to start the leg (and some gusset decreasing) - and there it is!
A heel!

Clever, clever, clever, I'm a fan of

Looks pretty good on the foot as well, I like, like very much. Its not easy photographing the heel of ones foot - the leg gets a bit scrunched up.

Note: I like my increases and decreases to line up in nice tidy lines, so I reversed the k2tog and ssk as written in the pattern, I suspect that has added one more structural line to the heel section ... but it works for me.

na Stella

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Two new things ....

oh, its lovely, starting two new things. Honestly I don't know which to pick up and knit, both are fun and exciting and different. One I really want to wear, and have and have knit, and I'm keen to see the shaping develope, the other, well I want to see how the shape develops and works. Today its all about new knitting, knitting new things, both new shapes to the world, and old shapes that are new to me. And work? Well its there, mad as ever, I'm currently in the throws of writing assessment rubrics for 3 new courses, all involving shared teaching. The deadline looms, and I feel like I have just spent days developing criteria descriptors that range from an E (yes we write descriptors for fails) to A's. They go along the lines of this, for example workbook practice, E = Student fails to demonstrate relevant research and engagement with the design process, to an A = Enthusiastic and comprehensive engagement with the whole design process resulting in a resolved and imaginative design(s). Ok that is not really the final descriptors, but you get the idea .... forgive me if I start to describe my work in those terms ...

But first Skew, have you caught up with the latest surprise? This sock is one of the very few patterns that made me want to cast on-right-now. Really it did, I ended up sorting yarn from the sock draw that very day. I was just fascinated by the idea of shaping a sock that was skewed - as in the spiral of knitting was not at a right angle to the foot. Discussion at spin night raised a suggestion that like Jaywalker the bias construction might result in a sock with no give, no stretch to accommodate pulling on and off. I'm trying it on as I go, and so far so good. I've started the shaping for the ankle, and hope to work the heel tonight. This is fun, fast to knit, and fun.

Lagging only slightly behind is my green sweater, the one I swatched and swatched. Now its begun, and its good. I'm over the hem, working in the round .... so its just round and round for a few inches. Enough time and space for me to decide if I will knit it as the original with deep set sleeves, or the modified version with slimmer sleeves. Right now, I'm leaning towards the original, why mess with a good design? And then I think ...but surely one has to have a nod towards contemporary fashion. I'll let you know which way I head on that one.

I'm also in the final throws of the 'unbloggable-project', its been test knit and I've still got to amend the pattern with the final suggestions from my wonderful test knitter when they arrive (thank you again - you know who you are), I hope one more set of tidy up changes and it will be good to go. Where is it going? I'm submitting it, so I can't say - yet. But if successful - you will all be amongst the first to know. Its been a month of submissions, I also submitted to 2 conferences ... about knitting .... fingers crossed for acceptance and funding.

That is my knit world for now, more latter.
na Stella

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Green Sweater swatch take two

Wednesday - well Wednesday didn't work for blogging, I was out of town and didn't get back till late, besides not much has happened that I can blog. Work is hectic, simply mad, I want to use the word stupid, and I think I can, safely, as in I'm not using in to describe a person, but a process imposed with scant regard for the physical practicality. The time frames for some of the documentation required for teaching requires bending of time and space - something I have yet to master but is obviously a skill I am expected to have. I've been knitting what another calls The Unbloggable Project, which one day will be bloggable (but not yet), and I made some progress with the second Green Sweater Swatch.

Remember if you will that swatch one was under gauge, and so a second swatch was in order, larger needles and perhaps if I was knitting a second swatch the opportunity for testing the techniques, the steek, the hem, and the facing. Swatch two has been knit for some time, but the hem needed dealing with, and there were options to consider for stitching it in place. The steek needed - well - steeking, and then it needed blocking to see if the bias lean was removable.

First I unraveled the provisional cast on. I used a crochet cast on, and it worked well. First I slid a needle into the first row of stitches then zzzziiiiippp away it unzipped.

Then I stitched the hem down, or rather up. I chose to test a little variety of methodology here, in that some was stitched with a whip stitch, just thru the loop and thru a purl bump on the fabric behind. The other method I tried was to graft it into place, with a purl graft top and bottom, and then with a knit graft to the hem, and a purl graft to the fabric behind. I liked that effect the best. I left the needle into until it was grafted, and that worked well. I stitched the hem, unstitched it and restitched it, I discovered that you need to stitch the hem to a row of stitches a lot higher than you would think for it to sit flat. I knew that, but had forgotten.

Then I whipped stitched the steek, but got it in the wrong place, not quite in the middle of the steek stitches (just as well it was the swatch eh?). I used the yarn, and it worked well, I had wondered how a single would hold up to stitching a hem and a steek - and the answer is for this yarn - very well indeed.

Then I cut the steek, snip, snip, snip .... the magic of the steek never fails to impress me, that a little row of whip stitches can create this lovely stable edge.

Then I soaked it in warm water with a little wool-wash, and smoothed it out to dry. I like, like very much.

Now I have to measure the gauge, and compare it to the first swatch. Its looser and with any luck will be on gauge so I can cast on (fingers, toes and legs or eyes crossed ....although it either is or isn't so crossing body parts isn't going to change much), and decide which density of swatch I like. and yes it bias's .. still, but I'll steam it and see, and perhaps I will re-vist those knitting this on Ravelry and see if it was an issue for them.

Tonight I'm off to the local settlers museum for a tour of the costume collection store .... so that is all I'm posting now. bye.

take care

Saturday, February 06, 2010

No knit blog today

My dad visited, and he came with bounty from his garden. So instead of dealing with the hem on my 2nd Green Sweater swatch in order to soak and block it ... I have been dealing with a small mountain of fruit, and vegetables.

There is more, this is what the table looked like after I had sorted the plums and bagged up the softest 6 kg and put them in the freezer. The plums will be destined for Plum Sauce .... these apricots are for Apricot and Capsicum chutney, unless something else takes my fancy, I will leave the nicest ones for the fruit bowl. As well as this there were beans, several kilos of baby beetroot (currently simmering on the stove with spices and garlic and balsmic and dark sugar). He also brought carrots, potatoes, nectarines and a few yellow plums, plus a one kilo tub of his home made apricot jam.

Which means I'm no were nearer dealing with the swatch. It is off the needles, and now I need to stitch up the hem and block, and steek, and see if this one came it at gauge and make decisions if it didn't.

Take care
na Stella

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Where did that gaping chasim come from?

The one between many of us knitters out here in the Knitterverse, and the folk who work at The Knitter, or for that matter, lots of other knitting magazines? At knit night last week a copy of issue 14 was brought to share, and was puzzled by a response the editor gave to a a letter to the editor, I'll explain a little more but as well I've been reading more knitting magazines, and admiring the latest Vintage Purls Sock Club kit, and have finally started the second swatch for my Green Sweater. Following on from last week I did sew in those last fish, so the blanket has been set aside for now.

So .. the letter that sparked it all was sent to the editor of The Knitter and asked for thoughts about why The Knitter didn't include patterns worked in her favorite way, top down and in the round, and asked if they had plans or thoughts in that direction. The writer also pointed out that seamless and top down were much more common in American magazines than in British ones. I'd guess a great many knitters like me had the same question but had not bothered to email and ask. What floored me was the response, 'Our garments have largely been made this way because the majority of our designers have trained design backgrounds from the UK fashion colleges, who traditionally favor more classical construction methods'. Oh wow - what a polite put down, and misinformed as in the round is more traditional if that is what them mean by classic. of They do go on to say they are looking at including some top-down, and ones that use other interesting techniques in future issues (my italics). What confuses me most is that when I read the bios of most of the designers I don't often see that they trained in fashion, and because I teach fashion believe me I would remember that fact about a designer, that they had studied and where. I'm also confused because if that is true, then those colleges who teach design and fashion and all the unspoken innovation and creativity that goes implicit with that - well they would be teaching it with a very limited and restricted tool set. Just for the record, over here - I'm armed for teaching with much wider tool set, top down, bottom up, inside outside in, starting students with in the round and working out to components and graphs and calculations as well as total free form. I suspect that the UK colleges are not nearly as restrictive as the magazine suggests .. and that perhaps the pattern editor and technical spec person are a little conservative about estimating the skills and wants of their knitting public - but that is my own view.

During the week two new issues of magazines arrived in my letter box. Piecework historical knitting issue ... yum. I suspect The Mitts with tongues will be on my needles soon, I might not use them in church .. but I will use them while working on a computer. Vogue Knitting has a neat wee short row - no wraps knit the stitch twice - trick that I will be trying sometime. I've not got my head fully around how it works - but I am intrigued.

Then the sock club, The 2010 Summer Vintage Purls Sock club. While away I learned that this is a very desirable club to be in, I met so many knitters who missed out because it sold out so fast - sales opened on December 11th and sold out the same day, so now I feel doubly lucky to have my sock club kit. The is nothing more you could want for in a kit, yummy merino nylon sock yarn (no holes in my hand knit socks), indie dyed soft almost lavender warm grey, chocolate (3 kinds!), beads, the pattern and the cutest knitterly post it notes. My personal challenge will be to use the post it notes, not save them for looking at. And the sock, as usual toe up, and one I want to knit, it is pretty.

Lastly the second swatch for the Green Sweater has begun, this time on 5mm needles, and this time I'm knitting the swatch with the hem shaping so I can have a play with working the hem in this yarn, and I will work a steek in this yarn as well. I figure if I'm knitting another swatch to get gauge - I may as well check techniques at the same time. I'm only four rows in, so its tiny so far, and open - I'm not sure I like the yarn at this looser gauge - but I will reserve judgment until after its blocked.

Work is full, this is the last 2 weeks of preparation before the students arrive, and we have almost back to back planning meetings (we re-jigged the courses a little - its better but means more work to set things up the first run thru). The cubs are at school, they started today and seem happy and confident and relaxed, and its still all good here.

na Stella