Friday, August 27, 2010

Bear found the sock!

He did!
He really did!
It was tucked into the side pocket of the overnight bag I took away last week, and I had searched that bag over and over and over.
But Bear is like that .. he can find things
so now I can finish the second sock .. in fact I'm going to tuck it into my case and finish them while I'm away .. then I'm going to wear them.
I'd love to post a photo .... but its dark, its nighttime .... and you all deserve better images than I make in artificial light.

take care
na Stella - the one with the found sock :D

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Nearly there

Today has been a day of last minute stuff, getting this, sorting that, remembering those, and then laying all of it out and working out how to fit it sensibly into my borrowed suitcase. It is Friday, just after lunch, I leave mid morning tomorrow - final Destination Shetland! Which is really really exciting, except for the 38 hours and 50 minutes I'll be in transit. Living so far away is kind-a nice sometimes, a little distance is a good thing .. but then it is so far away. Of course attending an international hand knitting conference is worth all that economy class seating. And no .. I've not found the missing sock, so that project is totally on hold. The disappearance of the first knit sock is all very very strange.

So I have tickets, GBP, passport, my liquids and gels all in the little plastic baggie, and of course travel knitting. I've finished my presentation .. well as finished as it can be without continuing to polish it. I have all the images I need in place, and a few print outs which I'll read over and 'improve' the talk side of things before I present. I've also got company, on the trip Launa is coming with me, a local knitting guru so that is rather cool, and today it is a teacher only day so the cubs and I have a day together before I go. Of course they are too old and grown up for hanging out with Mum .. so are off playing in the living room.

I've packed my carry on, with little things that matter, two knitting projects, on in my favorite chicken knitting bag. I only had a wee bit of this fabric and managed to eek out 4 bags. Two even had chickens knitting chicken foot shapped socks ... which tickles my fancy somewhat. I've also put in a lace shawl knit by N, and my emergency knit tools, measuring tape, crochet hook, stitch markers.

Inside the chicken-knitting bag is my new project. I've had to be really strict with my self. I did decide to cast on all my projects before I left. Cat Mittens byJorid Linvik are fun and fast, so fast I had to stop myself knitting them completely before I left. I've changed the pattern a little, I love the twisted braids on some of the other mittens so added that to this one, a band at the cuff and another band above the cuff colour work. Looks like the sock yarn on 2.25mm needles with 60 stitches will be perfect for older cub. If I wanted to wear them myself I'd have to settle for a looser gauge or work with thicker yarn and larger needles. I can't wait until we leave NZ .. the longer plane flight will be perfect for settling into knit this.

My mindless knitting project is a home spun baby blanket with a little lace at the corners. So far it is plain between, and it might stay that way. Part of me is wondering if I can adapt the lace so it forms a grid ... but that might just be to hard for a mindless round and round project for when I'm tired. There is 700+ m of fingering weight handspun, 160grams, so it should make a decent sized blanket. My plan is to cast of with a garter stitch boarder inset with more of the lace panel. I am trying to keep it simple. My other project was to be Annis .. and I cast on and worked the first two rows but ... .it isn't going to be a knit to work while distracted ... so I'm leaving that until I'm back, sometimes what seems like a good idea in theory doesn't really work in practice, that is ok, I can adapt.

So to prevent me from knitting up all my travel knitting before I go I've reverted to the huge blanket project. This means there is progress .. only 5 squares to do! I'm on the home straight on this one, as I work around 2 squares a night ... so only a few more nights knitting and it will be done.

but I'm away in two sleeps ... and away for 13 days. I'm not taking the laptop, as I've no idea what sort of internet access I can find, and it just seems easier to use internet cafes to check into Ravelry and such. I probably won't post while away .. or if I do it will be short and picture-less. I'm back at work on the 13th September .... so expect the first return post then.

Until then
happy knitting ... wish me luck at least a little deep sleep on the plane .
na Stella

Saturday, August 21, 2010

I've lost a sock ...

not in the washing machine, and not one of a pair, but a sock that I have knit. Worse is that is has gone AWAL whilst I'm knitting its mate. I have no idea where it is .. but I do have proof that it existed, proof that I did knit it and complete it. This is maddening, for I'm well aware of the lost sock syndrome, where once the laundry is washed, dried and folded there is a sock or two lonely and without a mate. But this is different, this sock should never have left the house, it should never have left the room, it should never have left the end of the sofa where I sit and knit and should be happily waiting for its mate in my work basket .. but it is not. Today I present the second sock ... without its pair, I repaired the cuffs of one of my favorite cardigans (Owls) and it was surprisingly straightforward, and I'm making knitting plans. It has been busy week, I was away Monday and Tuesday .. and teaching all day Wednesday, and out Thursday .. so the week flew by without a blog update.

I guess I need to advertise, my missing sock looks like this,

Lost - One sock, Theodora, purple, size ML, knit in Vintage Purls Sock, Sock Club edition Theodora. If found please return to me ....

Here is the second sock, nearly done and because the first is lost I can not finish this one. I keep a workbook, a knitting journal in which I write the important things, how many stitches, what size needles, any changes to the pattern .. but what I have not recorded is how long I knit the leg of the first sock before I worked the ribbing. Looking at the photos I guess I could estimate how many lace repeats there are .. but I'd rather line the two socks up and work out the length that way. I have no idea where the missing sock is, I meant to take it with me on a work trip to Wanganui on Monday, but when I got there I couldn't find it in my bag so assumed I had not packed it, When I returned home I realized I couldn't find it here either.... I have no idea where it could be. Are there sock fairies and gnomes? Do they take things sometimes? Can any one help?

I distracted myself by repairing the cuffs of Owls, one of my favorite cardigans. I knit this way back in January and February of 2009 so it has done well. The cuffs were worn so repairs were needed. Last post I wrote about repairs to elder cubs cuffs, but that was a top down gansey and seemed easier to plan the repair for. When I posted that Owls needed repairing I also posted I had none of the yarn left .. but M came to my rescue with a part ball of the same yarn. I had forgotten she has a cardigan in the same yarn - that made me happy and solved the what with problem and only left the how problem.

First I removed the cuffs from the cardigan. Because the sleeves were knit cuff up, I couldn't unravel them. Knitting only ravels one way .. the opposite way to the direction it is knit in.

So ... I snipped a thread one round past the ribbing and gently removed the yarn one stitch at a time. I was surprised to find that it hadn't felted enough to make pulling the thread difficult. I'm keeping these as spare yarn should I have to repeat this repair in a few years.

With the cuffs removed I picked up the stitches on 3.25mm needles and knit up new cuffs. The original cuffs has stretched somewhat larger than I liked. As part of this repair I had opportunity to work the replacement cuffs smaller. For the original I had used 48 stitches in 2x2 rib and increased for the cables by adding 12 extra stitches, this time I increased only two stitches and worked a P2, K2, P2, K4 rib. It was nice having details of the stitch count and needles sizes in my knitting workbook (why oh why didn't I record the same level of detail for the missing sock?). I used the original cuff to gauge how long to make the new cuffs, the same number of cable twists.

I think this worked quite well, the transition between the cuff up sleeve and the replacement sleeve down cuff seems smooth and not really noticeable. I wasn't quite sure what kind of cast off would be best, I wanted something durable and hopefully more durable than the previous edge.

In the end I chose my favorite cast off, i-cord, a two stitch i-cord cast off. I worked this on 4mm needles - the same as I used on the body of the cardigan.

The i-cord works well, it provides a clear edge, and seems to echo the rib and cables in scale.One of the reasons for selecting this edge finish was it was used to edge the front bands and the neck of the cardigan. The edge on the cuffs seems larger in scale .. but perhaps will settle a little with blocking and wear. I didn't want to pull it in, so worked the cast off on larger needles and loosely.

Now that my repairs are all done and Owls is in a fit state to travel to with me, I've been thinking about travel knitting. I'm away next weekend to the In the Loop 2 conference in Shetland ---- which is pretty exciting stuff, to have funding and be going to a 5 day conference all about hand knitting. I'll be away 2 weeks, so need knitting to keep my hands busy. This is plan one, Annis from Knitty Spring Summer, by Susanna IC. I'm planning to knit it in lace-weight 100% cashmere. I'm going to feel so special and luxuriant knitting this, and once the lace is done I should be able to just go back and forth easily. I might just cast on before I leave ... peace of mind as I count all those stitches and place stitch markers.

This is travel plan part two, the large yellow cake is hand spun fingering perennial. That I plan to knit into a center out baby blanket, just round and round .. perhaps a pi shawl in celebration of EZ's 100th? Or square with a mini lace cable up the corners between the increases ... I'm still planning and thinking about that so suggestions are welcome. The Orange is Road Cone, and was to be put with the green to knit Elder cub a pair of space invaders mittens, but I've been asked to trade .. and the green is vibrant enough on its own so I'll pair it with the navy-grey instead.

And part three of the plan involves these two skeins, which I think will make a neat pair of colour work mittens for smallest cub ..... probably out of my new book Selbuvotter or Cats by Jorid Linvik from the shop but the dogs are cute as well as are the fish and the Zebras and the frogs (how can one decide with offerings like that?), or Wintergreen by Kate Gilbert, or Deep in the Forest by Tuulia Salmela which are just really really cool. Bother all the things I want to knit are cool .. which makes deciding all the harder. And I need to take a sock to knit .... two weeks with no sock knitting seems just plain wrong, but what sock .. and what yarn? There are still decisions to make .....

take care
na Stella

Saturday, August 14, 2010

One done, another one done, .. two to go.

Today I've got something finished, and something mended, but it leaves the 'other-one' to finish and the 'other-one' to mend. There has been mending, and knitting and sometimes it has been the same thing. I'll explain.
I've finished the first Theodora sock, it is a nice sock, one I'm looking forward to wearing, so I'm keen to knit the other one asap. I have cast on and completed the toe .. so should be done soon. I've not managed to get photos during the winter daylight - so I'll post images next time (promise).

I've also made myself mend Toby's gansey , I say made myself because I really don't like mending but know when I settle down and mend things it is always easier and quicker than I thought it would be. Having mending a top down knit sleeve I now totally buy all the oft repeated folk lore about things knitted from the top down, particularly sleeves being easy to fix. Of course being me I had made that a little harder by finishing the sleeves with a sewn bind of, but it was fairly straightforward after I unpicked that one stitch at a time. This is the worn edge that I had to start with, its not very worn .. but a stitch had gone and it was laddering up slowly.

First up I snipped a thread along the sewn bind off and one by one un-threaded the bind off yarn thru each stitch. Usually I love working with dark fine yarns and 2.5mm needles ... but when it comes to unpicking those don't make it easy to see which yarn is the stitch and which is the bind off. At some point I realized that if I unpicked in the opposite direction to how I has sewn it the process would be much easier, and so I worked the other way and it was easier.

Once I had the bind off removed I ravelled the sleeve cuff back to just before the garter stitch edging. That seemed to removed all of the work yarn. I was slightly surprised at how little yarn was involved. Then I picked up the stitches all around the cuff and reknit the last section of the cuff with yarn from the same cone I had knit the gansey from. I was happy that I had written down notes in my workbook about stitch count and needles size and how many rows of what where and if I had started the cast off following a knit or purl round. That made it so much easier than peering at the other cuff and trying to make them match.

And because I like the effect of the sewn bind of, I worked exactly the same edge again. Yes it is a pain to unpick .. but as the whole process took less than an hour, I'm game for another repair if its needed. Here is the finished cuff, it hasn't been blocked or washed or steamed. The underneath cuff is the one that didn't need a repair, and the top cuff the repaired one. I imagine it will settle down and blend a little better with a block or wash. There is a slight dimple in the cast off that I didn't noticed until I'd woven in all the ends. I'm sure it will even out with blocking and wear .. and if not it is a gansey for an 11 year old ... it is for wearing not for competition.

I've still got the Owls to fix, and was the lucky recipient of a part ball of the exact same yarn it is knitted in. I'm dragging my feet over that one, I want to take it away with me at the end of the month ... but it will need repairing. That one is cuff up, not top down, and both cuffs are worn. I suspect that means I will have to remove both cuffs entirely, frog them and reknit them from the top down. The stitches won't line up exactly but if I frog the cuff back to the transition from stocking stitch to cabled rib it should look ok.

That is pretty much all I've been up to .. this afternoon I've been plying the yellow 160g of fine single perendale, so now I am off to sit and ply the last of it. I'm away for work Monday night and Tuesday .. so I'll miss spin night and felt like I needed to spin today so I would have some spinning in my week.
Take care
na Stella

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

ooooo mitten book

yes, I have a new book, on mittens, colour work mittens. Yes I know a knitter like me can only wear one pair of mittens at a time and I already have two perfectly good pair. Well actually I have books that detail traditional mittens with over mittens - but that is more than is needed in our part of the world. This is a book that I've wanted for a while, and a very welcome and surprising Amazon gift voucher made it possible (thank you!). So I have a new mitten book, and there will be new mittens soon. The rest of the post is themed around slow, I've been switching between reading Slow and knitting the slow project, the last bump of fibre that I started spinning in the Tour de Fleece 2010 is finally ready to ply, and Theodora grows slowly ... and I have mending. Mending is something I've been writing about and reading about for my conference paper .. so it was a little bit of a discovery to find my own knitwear was in need of just the kind of mending I had recorded in the museum garments I'm writing about.

Selbuvotter, a book that I've longed for for ages, but for a knitter like me, with apparently 126 knitting related books cataloged on Library thing ... and a limited budget ... well I have to prioritize my book purchases. I just can't buy all of them when I want them. Some times I miss out, I didn't buy History of Hand knitting, nor did I buy Treasures from the Rag pile for myself while they were still in stock/print and before prices escalated beyond belief (but I did make sure the schools library has a copy so I have ongoing easy access). I have a bit of a wish list, and when there is 'book money' that is free and clear .. I look at the list and prioritize. After knitting Squirrels, and patrolling around Ravelry being inspired by other colour work mittens .. I knew that this windfall needed to be spent on a mitten book ... Selbuvotter it was. I've borrowed this book and lovingly looked thru it at knit night .. but now I have my own copy. I arrived home a few hours ago to find it waiting for me .. so I've only just enjoyed the first few pages before I had to do homework parent duty and set the table and other domestic tasks, but tonight I plan to sit and read and plan mittens with it.

The knitting this week is less exciting that past weeks, I'm still working away on the large grey garter stitch blanket. This will fit a single bed when done and is knit in real 1980's vintage 6 strand loosely spun Cowichan yarn. Soft, warm and thick on 15mm needles. This is the third of this kind and second of this size blanket I've knit, and passion has cooled a little. I'm interspersing rows with reading In praise of slowness by Carl Honore. I like this book, right now it fits the way I'm thinking about how I want to be in the world, a little more relaxed, a little less rushed, and a lot more enjoyment in the moment without rushing to the next thing. This is a library book, so the irony is that I can't read it too slow as I have to give it back soon.

And spinning, during the second half of the Tour de Fleece I started spinning 160g of yellow perendale, it is sunny and warm and I knew that I wouldn't finish it during the tour but that was OK. Now I'm at the end of the singles and I'm ready to ply. I love this yellow, in the midst of cold clear grey and blue days it is warm and that is nice .. I'm thinking baby blanket for the next baby whenever or whomever that is needed for.

Theodora grows slowly, I've been spending more time on other things and we have had a few visitors drop in. Usually I'd just sit and knit while chatting .. but these were family on Bears side, ones who only come to town every 6 years as they are part of a longitudinal study and this time there was much busyness when they visited, photos of new children to admire, restored cars written up in magazines to admire (theirs), changes to our house and garage (their grandma's house) to examine, smaller bears than mine to keep out of trouble. I don't mind .. but I realized that I do usually get to indulge my knitting more than I could this week. Upshot is Theodora is perhaps only one or two rows longer than it was at the last post, but this time I have a better image of the bold lace that runs up the center front of the sock.

As I wrote in my introduction I'm working on the paper for the upcoming conference. It is on knitwear in the local museum, pieces knit and donated by a local. Unusually for pieces acquired by a museum recently these all show much wear and significant mending ... they really do. My paper looks at what the construction, style, techniques, fashion, and wear can indicate about the knitter. The mending shows I think frugality, one of the much written about hallmarks of early 20th century knitting, depression knitting, world war knitting, and post war rationing. I have taken many many images of the worn edges, the careful yet almost clumsy mending that the garments have, but I don't have permission from the museum to share them here(sorry). It was with some slight surprise that I noticed garments I had knit had similar wear. There was an odd and rather nice connection spanning time with the knitter of the garments in my study when I recognized the same wear patterns and considered some of the same repairs and methods for my own knitted works. Unlike that knitter - the elbows have not yet worn thru on my garments, for now it is just the cuffs.

Toby's gansey, knit last winter is worn at the cuff. Nothing too major, I have yarn left over and can easily frog the cuff back and re-knit it. In traditional Gansey tradition the sleeves were knit from the shoulder to the wrist, so I can effect a perfect repair here, in fact I may only have to re-knit 3 or 4 rounds.

Owls has the same fate, it is without doubt the sweater I have worn the most. The soft grey and slightly modern styling seems to work well with many things in my wardrobe ... and the result is both cuffs have worn. The repair here will be trickier ... for these were knit cuff up so can't be easily raveled from this edge. The other complication is I have no more of this yarn, but the mill might. I don't even have the swatch .... suggestions for repair are most welcome ...and as it is a cast on edge .. well it won't ravel far upwards will it?

take care - and look at your cuffs :D
na Stella

Saturday, August 07, 2010


This week I've been distracted, oh there has been knitting, and finishing and spinning, and all the usual work and parenting and keeping up with events online .. but I have been distracted. I can pinpoint the start of the distraction quite clearly, to Overkill, who not only blogged about her recent procrastination ending in a fountain pen revival, but spoke of it in person to Bear and myself. Well ... I started thinking about writing instruments, and my early working days in a engineering design office. Oh we had a stationery cupboard the likes of which I have not seen since, there were red pens, black pens, blue pens, and green pens, all for the purposes of checking of and initialing different stages of drawings. There was lined paper, gridded paper and graph paper pads, in A4 and A3, there were pencils in every grade from H to 4B, the traditional kind in wood that you sharpen, the technical mechanical kind that took 0.3 or 0.5 or 0.9mm leads. There were erasing shields and scale rulers and erasers of all sorts of shapes and materials for erasing on paper and parchment and tracing paper. There was ink, in bottles and the specialized Rotring pens for detailing final drawings .. and in those days the pens were refilled with ink cartridges ... so there were all manner of pen cleaning tools and wipes and solutions to keep them working well. There were also piles of stencils for detailing drawings, curves and templates ... and technical drawing equipment like brass parallel rulers, and set squares.

Then there was my all time favorite, 2mm clutch pencils, that were sharpened with a special lead pointer. Reading about a return and rediscovery of fountain pens brought back memories of that stationery cupboard, and of using those specialized writing tools. I went hunting out the clutch pencils we had and found this, Bears old Faber Castell 4600N (circa 1970) 2mm clutch. Vintage. I headed out to the art supply store and bought leads and made use of it from that day on.

Then the very next day I headed back to the art supply store to get a lead pointer, it was no fun writing with a blunt pencil.
The day after that I was cruising the internet looking for more supplies and information on technical and drawing pencils. These are called clutch pencils in the UK and here in NZ, and are known as lead holders in the US. The lead is about as thick as that in a wooden pencil, but seems smoother and nicer to use. The beauty is that it can be sharpened to a fine point, but as it sharpens unlike a wooden pencil the balance doesn't change. It is apparently a classic, and in demand and I can see why.

Yesterday I looked thru the other bits of stationery that we have here, Bear has some that were his mums and his dads. Amongst that I found this lovely vintage mechanical pencil, unbranded, that takes a 1.1mm lead. And it has a box of leads with it. I've been using it as well ...for it is nice, very nice. Good news is that the leads it needs are still available and I've got some on their way to me. The minimum order was $20 .. so I probably have a lifetimes supply a $1.50 for 10, $20 is a whole lot of lead.

In the midst of all this distraction I have been knitting, I added Acorns to the nearly finished Squirrel Mittens. These were lovely, I knit 4 acorns in total, the first one was a little bumpy, the second I tried to knit in the round but really it needs the structure of the seam between the two sections to pull it into shape when it is stuffed full of fibre. The last two were good enough to use on the mittens. I attached them with self made rope, and then knotted them over the braid, before burying the yarn ends between the layers. I think they look good.

And I've also started a new project, Theodora, in the kit yarn, from Vintage Purls. This one is knitting up fast, with big bold sexy lace. I was going to knit a sock in Road Cone .. for my road safety working Bear ... but that is on hold for now. I've not quite sorted the pattern .... I needed a knit that required no planning on my part and Theodora fitted the bill nicely. The lace panel is bold, and clean and easy to work, the rest of the sock is plain .. so it is knitting up very fast. I've also done another square on the big blanket .. but as it is grey and garter .. well one photo of progress on a project like that is much like another photo, so I will spare you that.

so ... with any luck I will be more focused and less distracted this week, although there is so much out there learn about mechanical pencils. There are some beautiful pencils out there I've already succumbed to a set of five mixed vintage lead pointers and pencil sharpeners on TradeMe .... so I won't promise anything more. I found blogs on mechanical pencils, and an online museum on lead holder pencils, imagine what finding out about those does to some one as geeky about knitting as me?

I might have a new 'thing' to distract me .. but I think it is totally compatible with the knitting.

na Stella