Tuesday, March 29, 2011

September 2010 to now ... is only seven months

Seven months, my first 'shawl - blanket' lace edged thing is finished in only seven months. Knit in 2 ply lace weight, and nearly 1.2m across each edge .. I have been calling it a blanket, but in truth I plan to use it more as a shawl. Folded from corner to corner and wrapped around my shoulders if I feel a chill. So Sunday night I cast off, and finished the shawl, Tuesday night I wove in the ends and blocked it ..... .. then I finished the first of the stripy socks.

First up the shawl, finished but not yet blocked. At this stage the center section seemed to bulge out, it seemed looser and larger than the edge. I kept telling myself that it would block out ... but .... you know, blocking improves lace amazingly but it won't cure mistakes.

Here is the shawl/blanket blocking, I pinned it out, and then went around the sides twice more just tweaking them out a little further until the middle was flat. I also threaded rods through the eyelets in the center section to straighten it up as the sides were bowing out.

I had used a Russian graft to join the two ends of the lace boarder, and had decided to offset the beginning and end to part way along one side. I cast on for the side-ways lace edge using just simple twisted e-loops, and then when I had knit around to meet up with the cast on I picked up loops along the cast on edge to match the number of stitches on the last row. I was really really happy that my maths all worked out, working 2 extra repeats around each corner seemed enough to stretch around the corners, and the repeats fitted into the edge stitches neatly. The Russian graft is a little heavier than the surrounding lace, but in use it is hard to find. I had to work my way around the edge twice to find it for this photograph.

This was the best part, as I was working towards the end my remaining yarn diminished. I hoped I would have enough but I wasn't sure. Turns out I did ... but not much extra. Whew! Plan B was to order another ball (plus a few more for another project .... because you know if I was going to have to pay shipping .. I may as well get more than one)

So with the shawl/blanket blocking across the living room floor, I turned to the sock. Tonight I'll cast on the toes of sock number two ... and plan the next project. That is always the fun part, sifting through the queue of things I want to make, and muddling around in the stash, and short listing and short listing and then finally deciding and casting on.

What fun - but for now I'm off to unpin the blocked knitting and see how it drapes, there might even be a twirl with it around my shoulders. Of course the mornings have been a tad chilly but today we have full sun and it is warm and hot - not really shawl wearing weather.

Finishing is as much fun as finishing, and the knitting bit in the middle is pretty good to.

na Stella

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Frogging ...

I've been frogging, but not yarn, and not even knitting, the blanket is only one corner from completion and so has been my most active project this week, and the sock ... well it was abandoned during a lace talk earlier this week, really abandoned .. mid round even ... so needs some knitting time.

Yesterday I headed of to run errands, weekend non-workday errands. You know a, new laundry basket to hold dirty washing in the bathroom, a new seal for the stove top coffee pot, the potatoes that we had forgot to pick up at the supermarket, the paint for elder cubs kit set model plane that he ordered a few weeks ago, find something for lunch while I was out. Usual Saturday stuff, and in Total Food Equipment while buying the coffee seal I found frog cookie cutters. Not only that but frogs like I some times use to decorate things I make, knitknitfrog kinda frogs! I had to take one home ... and make bread frogs. Now I will admit sometimes I am one of 'those-parents', the kind that does things that take longer, involve more work, but should be healthier. My cubs would love me to buy flavored crackers and savory biscuits, Arnott's Shapes and their ilk.My cubs tell me with angelic faces that all the other kids have them in their lunch boxes, and they would like them too. But as the daughter of a health food nut, and sometime hippie (my mother who went way too far when she to mashed her potatoes with their skins on --uggh!!) I just shudder at the list of ingredients that are identified by numbers and codes. So I compromise ... I make bread dough (in the machine), roll it out thin and cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Some weeks we have teddy bears, other weeks gingerbread man and woman shapes, or flowers, or hearts, and since Christmas we have had ninjabread men*, all cooked from plain bread dough. Today we have several dozen frogs ...... I feel this might be ever so slightly Harry Potterish, perhaps it is too much. These bread shapes are brushed with milk or olive oil, and sprinkled with salt, or smoked paprika or cheese .. depending on my pantry, requests and mood, then baked on a pizza stone for 10 minutes. Once cooled they are frozen, and tossed frozen into lunch boxes each morning, with fruit, something vegy, a muffin, and whatever else is on hand to complete a lunch. By lunchtime they are thawed and fresh not stale. Yes I could default to sandwiches, but ... that involves stocking the fridge, and takes time each morning, and often they come home uneaten even when the cub itself prepared it! Making these is part of my weekend ritual, a batch of bread dough takes me 15 minutes to roll out and cut, and then its just a matter of rotating each batch through the oven to cook, whilst I do something else (knit, spin, dream, drink coffee, surf the knitterverse and online pen community forums ....). Most week days Bear and I even fill a wee box each of whatever shapes we have in the freezer to complete our lunches.

I'm nearly there on the blanket edge, one corner left. I'm not calculating repeats to go and ticking them off ... because if I did it would automatically end up miscalculated and somehow slow the whole process. Part of me wishes that I had knit this with a darker grey or black even instead of the blue ... but it is too late to turn back now. The blue works ... but perhaps it is not as 'sophisticated' as I would want it to be. Live and learn .... and I like it enough to keep and use it.

Wednesday I went to a talk by a visiting expert on lace. Rosemary Shepherd spoke about lace in fashion the first 300 years. I loved her talk and learned a lot bout how lace was valued and used and gendered and perceived differently at different times in history. I took my knitting but the lecture theater was very dark, with the dark grey yarn and 3x2 rib ... well I had to abandon knitting and just listen and learn. I've been so busy on the blanket lace edge I haven't even returned to finish the round of magic loop I started ..... oh well .. it will keep, possibly tonight I might finish the rib and start its pair.

Take care
eat frogs
na Stella

*Last weekend we even used those Ninjabread cutters to cut out toast sliced bread into shapes to make french toast, and over breakfast we decided that these must be Foreign legion solders, what other explanation could account for Ninja trained warriors made in french toast, served with maple syrup .. and it all got a little complicated on the nationality front.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Around and around and around ...

is my knit path this week, everything seems to be about going around. The blanket continues to have its edge added, one repeat at a time, corner by corner. The sock grows, the stripes have come to an end and now there is just the rib and then the second sock. And the weekend was long and good ... Bear is pink, which is still a nice surprise to see, and as a family we headed away for a long lunch and a spot of relaxation inland and along the way there was a pen find and a gift.

Here is the blanket in its most recent form, the edging is I think over half way done. At some point over the past few days I knit past the join from one 25g skein to another, but silly me, I forgot to make note of where the join is. In hindsight I hope that point was more than half way around the blanket ... just so I will have enough blue yarn to complete the edging.

The sock grew and is now nearly done, all that remains is to work the ribbing at the top, weave in ends and make a pair. Kathy suggested I invest in stealth needles, and make something of a stealth sock ... and I am sorely tempted. The Blackthorne needles have caught my eye before as have the Celtic Swan Stirling silver ones. Oh is it both wonderful and terrible to be tempted by so many nice knitting tools, and I really love that there is such choice ... one day, I tell myself, one day.

Monday was a 'non-work' day, Otago Anniversary day, so both Bear, the cubs and I had a long weekend. Bear suggested we head inland to Ranfurly for a lunch and bit of antiquing .... and the day was lovely. Along the way Bear spotted this pen, a Conway Stewart in Blue ... with a 14ct gold nib. A little reserach tells us it is late 1940's to mid 1950,s and it will need a little work (the nib split is a tad open and the sac that hold the ink is old and brittle). those are easy things to arrange ... and Bear knowing my penchant for things blue bought it for me. Amongst pen collectors this kind of find is called in-the-wild, I've been wondering what the knitters equivalent is ..... the potential of stash being spotted in-the-wild seems less likely. Karma follows, today Bear received a gift of a pen from his sister, a lovely modern gold Targa Sheaffer 1005, that her husband R had been gifted when he retired. R is not into fountain pens and so when Bears sister shared Bears hand written letter with him, R dug out the unused pen and passed on to Bear knowing he would use it. Lovely sometimes how the world works. Being nice begets being nice.

It is Tuesday, my 'long-day, Tuesdays my teaching starts at 9am and finishes at 5:30pm, then I go home, ...and now I'm fully done ... the dishes are cleared and away .. and its time to knit.

na Stella

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Look - a new project!

Yes, about time, I finally started something new. There are of course at least two things unfinished on the needles, but that didn't stop me from adding a third. And this one is a sock, yes, finally a sock on the go. I have had a funny 'empty' feeling about my knitting, and finally it clicked, I had no socks on the go. Well that was easy to sort.

So let me introduce my new sock project, first I had to dive back into my stash and find yarn suitable. I located this one, Noir Superwash Sock from Vintage Purls. But there was a nagging thought, Noir was so dark that any textural pattern would be as good as invisible ... part of me thought that would be cool. I could call it Stealth and knit in all sorts of code ... or sneaky clever sock things and then I had a reality check that this was a sock, for a boy-cub, not an uber clever design or art project, a sock destined for pre-teen feet. More than that I realized that that I had a lace project on the needles with 'quite a bit to go' before it was chart-free, and a colour work project also that required a chart. I needed a simple sock. So I frolicked around the left over sock yarns and found these three that seem to complimented Noir well.

And I kept it simple, stripes in set of three rounds, toe up, Judy's magic cast on, increase until it fits ... then knit, then start a gusset. The loose idea in my head was to transition stripes from the green, to the varigated forest to the brown yarn. I have between 4 and 8 grams of each for each sock, I've weighed them and divided each ball of yarn into half. In my imagination it works. Quite frankly I'm impressed with how far 7g of green yarn stretches when knit into a 72 stitch sock.

I've worked my way to another corner of the Shetland yarn blanket, that is now two corners done, well technically one and a half corners as I've only worked half of this one. Progress is slow but steady.

I'd love to knit this again in a single colour, the bands of colour really show up the changes in the lace patterns and I wonder what would be the effect if the colour didn't change. Of course if I was to knit it again I'd have to add a wee bit more interest into the center of the blanket, just to ward of the boredom ... I begin to see how over time those amazing lace shawls and blankets and wraps evolved.
take care
Something smells good, so probably time to check the kitchen and set the table .. or call the cubs to earn their keep and do that for me.

take care
na Stella

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Happy but weary ...

describes Bear, myself, the cubs and my knitting right now. Bear is fine, he is weary after the angioplasty but happy, today was the biannual cubs school fair and there I scored knitwear, the blanket lace edging goes on (and on), and I am about to knit some socks .....if only I can find the right yarn in my stash. There are photos today, of knitting, yarn and insides, but none of my knitting, that edging extends further along the blanket but looks pretty much the same as before.

This is a knitting blog, but sometimes non-knitting things creep in, like today. There were so many messages for Bear, wishing him well, sending good thoughts, and caring about him, I thought there might be some interest in the 'before' and 'after' photos. I'm not a medic, so my understanding and descriptors are fairly generic. Apparently these photos are made possible by injecting a special dye into the bloodstream that is recognized by the scanning equipment. This image shows Bears arteries, some where hidden in them is the ten year old stent.

And this is 30 minutes latter, following the new stent insertion and removal of the tools used - the much increased flow shows up as darker in this image. I think they must have repositioned the camera, same bits inside Bears body, but different view. And Bear - well he has his 'bounce' back, bouncier by the day - but still is weary part way thru the day. I can't remember much about his recovery 10 years ago .. but expect that improvements will continue for a while.

This was my score at the fair, a 'retro' cardigan. I love the cute little texture detail around the neckline and front edges. It is a a Verona, made in Mosgiel, barely 15 minutes drive from here. The Alliance Woolen Mill that produced it is long since closed ... but in their heyday made beautifully fully fashioned knitwear in pure soft new wool. This one is sized to fit in inches, not cm or numerical sizes .. and New Zealand metricated in 1969, although I suspect that clothes were sold in inches for a wee while after that. The only flaw is the loose thread from the button ... I think I can deal with that.

Yesterday I took the eldest cub to the stash room, no not a whole room (wouldn't that be nice?), but the room that houses the set of draws in which most of my stash is stashed. Together we selected yarn for his next socks, pink, pale blue, and purples were ruled out by him, the stuff with cashmere ruled out by me .. together we settled on this - Slippery Jim. Last night I hand wound it on a nostepinne into a ball, which for me always unpull nicer than ones that have been mechanically wound. Then I felt tested it ... just in case ... and it failed. Bother ... must be one of the non-super wash ones that I had not marked as such, and it is best to know before I knit the socks than after I knit them. That would be just too sad. Still it will make a lovely hat or scarf, or wrap, or mitts. He has the largest paws in the house, larger than Bears, so needs more hand knit socks for the winter. I will have to go and play in the sock yarn stash drawer again and select something else, and this time it might just be me ... .. all going well my next post should feature a new sock project.

Take care
na Stella

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Turning corners

This post is all about turning corners, S had a bonny bouncy baby boy (bbbb!), which is a new direction in her life so the secret project the local knitters had tag-teamed on was handed over, Bear had an angiogram and an angioplasty .. so has turned another corner, while that was happening I sat in the hospital and waited for him to return from theater, to wake up and be healthy and pink again and turned the lace corner on my Shetland yarn blanket. Lastly Dave's Mechanical Pencil blog turned 5 .. which is a grand age for any one let alone a blog, and seems I am the lucky recipient of a birthday give away.

So there is the revealing of a completed project, the baby blanket, Sleepy Monkey blanket by Mary Ann Stephens. Morag dyed yarn for this based on Sharons yarn buying history ... and knit the Monkey side, I knit the donuts and steeked both sides, Ana knit the Border (twice as it is two thickness for much of it before joining into a garter stitch band), Jenni knit a monkey to match and Ngaire knit it some lederhosen with a Monkey motif. Karen made the most wonderful card .... and S .. well she made baby Thomas.

Then there is the lace boarder, which had to go around a corner. This isn't something I'd done before. Oh I'd mitred many a corner but never with lace. Sharon Miller in Heirloom knitting suggested just increasing the number of repeats upto and just after the corner .. which was what she said traditional lace knitters often did. Sounded good, so I worked the sideways lace edging with a w&t instead of a ssk every other row that ended at the blanket. ... It worked!
this is the corner I worked while Bear turned his own corner in the cardiac ward. Its now 5:40 pm and I'm off to pick him up at 6pm ... 10 years ago when he had his first stent this was overnight surgery .. now it is a day procedure. I feel like one of those 'old people' who say things about how amazing modern medicine is .. but it just is amazing what can be done now - the stent is medicated!

And lastly yesterday when I got home there was a package waiting for me, Sheaffer 'P' erasers, which are a perfect replacement for the eraser in a Parker 51 pencil. So I changed erasers, removing the 50 year old hard dry pink one .. except I removed the white eraser from the Sheaffer ring and inserted it into the original Parker 51 eraser ring. About then I checked my email and found I'd won a rather generous spending spree at Cult Pens .... Dave suggested I leave a comment on his blog along the lines of 'Who hoo', I wasn't sure I was a Whoo Hoo kinda blogger .. I thought I was more of a 'thank you nicely' kind of blogger, but the more I think about the potential of geeky pencil spending .. the more I understand the concept of Who Hoo.....

take care - we will be resting up here taking it easy ... and I'm off to get Bear, which is a good sign.
na Stella

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Recovery ....

Todays post is about recovery, both completed and expected. First up the Balletomane surgery was deemed ok by the the knitter whos work it was. K did admit in the comments to giggling hysterically, but reassured me that it was successful. Then the replacement blanket is back to where it was before I frogged it - and reworked the last two pattern repeats. Then there is an expected recovery on the horizon, I'll explain.

First up the recovered grafted Balletomane, there were two grafted seams, each with a face and reverse side. That meant four finished sides to look at.

The first three looked absolutly fine, the graft matched the garter stitch nicely.

See - even the neck edge which is i-cord blended in invisibly.

But the fourth side, well .... I grafted it three times, and each time there was a section that just refused to blend in smoothly. It was because of the short rows .. and while I attempted to work the rows so they were as they should be .. this one just wasn't as nice to look at as the others. But the good news is that because of the way Balletomane is constructed .. well there is no inside or outside until the sleeves are picked up and knit, so this can just become the inside.

I have been knitting on the last of the continuous round of lace on the blanket, in preparation for the last colour change and working lace sideways to form the last band. Every time I dumped my lace on the chest which serves as a table in the family room .. . the detritus of my knitting struck me as a kind of knitters still life. Here is a sample, there is an 'advanced spinning group' newsletter, the knitting in progress, a tape measure and chart on a chart keeper, cup mats to protect the wood and a game. Shaun the Sheep ... Bear bought for the cubs because it has his current favorite cartoon character in it, the Sheep - Shaun. This sheep comes from one of the early Wallace and Gromit moves - A close shave, which was based around knitting wool shortages and has a still motion dog slightly smarter than his owner - whats not to like.

So with that done and returned, I was able to turn to the Shetland yarn blanket, and I finally am back to where I was when I decided the colour bands were in the wrong order and frogged it. That time Yo-yo seemed to confirm my thoughts, she did not look impressed. This time as I laid out the blanket for a photo .. Yo-yo was there again. She wouldn't budge, so ended up in the corner of the photo. That would be the black fuzzy bit on the lower right.

Truly that cat would not budge, just sat and looked on as I arranged the blanket so the white center and grey bands could be clearly seen. I trust the lace points will block out and open up more when this is done. My plan is to work an extra repeat of the lace around each corner, or two if needed to gain the length needed to fit around the corner. And the odd red 'thing' dangling from her neck? Well it is her collar which has come slightly undone, I do apologize for not tidying up my cat before her photo was captured.

And I really don't know if Yo-yo approves of the change or not ... what do you think?
Take care
na Stella

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Knit surgery - or Do not try this without

There are some things that sound like a good idea, and they are a good idea, but undertaking them requires a leap of faith. Even more so when the work belongs to another knitter.
This week there has been more knitting on the grey band around the blanket .. those seemingly never ending rounds ... so progress is slow and honestly the blanket looks much like the last post. But the end is in sight ... I'm now working the points at the top of the lace ... so counting down to a colour change and direction change.

Alongside that project .. I have spend some time with another knitters project, K's Balletomane. K was lovely enough to want to knit Balletomane before the pattern was ready .. and so didn't have the advantages of the photos and finished pattern and diagram. As soon as I shipped her the finished pattern .. she mentioned that the shape she had knit was not the shape in the photos. Opps - totally something I had missed, a sentence to the effect that when working the shoulder ... one needed to make sure one was at a particular side of the work .. before separating the two sections to work the yoke. If one was not .. then the shoulder would be constructed 'upside-down' or 'backwards'.

But I'm not one to walk away from a knit problem, well I am sometimes but this seemed so fixable. In simple terms, there were two possible fixes, the shoulder section needed to be removed and swivelled 180 degrees, and then grafted back into place .. or the entire side of the ballet-wrap needed frogging and reknitting. Reknitting is kind of boring .. so I offered to perform the surgery. K was incredibly trusting, either that or she didn't fully realize what I was proposing to do to her beaded shaped knitting ....

Which was this. Here is her knitting once I had removed the shoulder but before I had rotated the shoulder piece. One I turned the shoulder section 180 degrees I grafted it into place the right way around.
So far so good, grafting garter stitch takes a wee bit of planning, making sure that one side is a purl row and the other is a knit row .. and then keeping attention as to where to thread the yarn to make the new stitches.

Tricky and fiddly but it is possible.

I'll show you the finished section once K has given her seal of approval.

Oh - and this is the first K has seen of it .. so K - remember to breathe :D

Na Stella