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April 27, 2006

Breather

That jacket, that dratted jacket, is giving me gauge woes. Gauge angst, more like - there's been some fighting and some pleading and some bargaining and finally some cursing to make a sailor blush, but it still ended up with an ugly needle-ripping incident and an order for an esoteric size of bamboo circular. My enthusiasm hasn't waned, no indeed - the whole colorwork portion will need to be ripped, but I can't wait for my needles to come so I can get back to it.

In the meantime, a little something to amuse:

More to show - and the whole Lurid And Tragic Tale Of The 3.00mm Needle - tomorrow.

April 25, 2006

It is herself

Yar, well, that's she:

The bust increases are almost done, and I'm only a couple inches away from starting the armscyes. Guess I ought to start figuring out the numbers for those, eh?

I'll show the princess shaping in detail once the pattern is re-established above the shaping, since that helps give a sense of how the shaping works. For now, though, you can see it, a little bit, in the left half of the jacket - because I wanted to keep the decreases and increases going down the centerline of a diamond, the shaping lines are a little off-center, more towards the edge than the middle. It's a bit of a compromise, but it preserves the integrity of the colorwork better than putting the line smack-dab in the middle would. The shaping is fairly severe - about 40 stitches, or 5.5 inches, difference between bust and waist - but the pattern remains (almost) intact.

My gauge has gone up from 9 stitches/inch to 7 stitches/inch - I reswatched on Friday, and found that the oily coned yarn blooms much more nicely at 7 stitches. At 9 stitches, the unwashed fabric was already fairly compact, and washing fluffed the stitches considerably but gave them nowhere to go. Right now, at 7 stitches, the fabric (particularly in the 1-color portion) is open, almost mesh-y, but blocking will fill everything in and make for a structured, smooth piece. A good thing, too - the knitting is woefully uneven right now, even in the plain band. I suspect the yarn - I've never worked with a coned yarn before, and the oily, peculiarly papery feeling of it is a new thing to me. The stuff is almost stiff as it comes off the cone, more like knitting with twine than with wool, hard to keep even and difficult to knit with for long periods.

You can see the bumpiness of the work here, in the front steek:

The steek is quite narrow, only four stitches flanked by border stitches to either side. The narrowness is a little nerve-wracking, but it serves a purpose - I'm planning a front band fitted with closely spaced hook-and-eyes, and I want the clean look of a hem-style band folded in half and turned under. The cut steek stitches will end up inside the hem - hence the extreme skimpiness, the desire to avoid any kind of bulk. This wool, Harrisville New England Shetland, is wonderfully sticky and felt-y, so I don't think any kind of securing will be needed before cutting...in theory, encasing the cut ends inside the front band will promote rapid felting and stay-put-ness. In theory.

From the comments

E to the M asked, "...do you pick or throw?

For this project, both :) I knit continental-style for one-color projects, but do most colorwork with the two-hand method. I'll occasionally tension both colors in my left hand, since that's the easiest way for me to weave every stitch - I find the movements of two-handed colorwork to be much more elegant and economical, though, so I save all-picking for when I really need to avoid floats: the toes of socks, baby garments, and gloves/mittens.

April 24, 2006

Crush

Knees a-tremble? Check. Heart a-thumping? Check. Head a-swooning? Check.

All the way through the plain waist and into the colorwork, increasing slowly towards the bust. The hem is rolling quite stubbornly right now - I think, though, that a good wash will tame it.

I'm pleased with myself, too, for figuring out what I think is a pretty handy way of dealing with a back pleat - at first, I was going to do a vent, but realized that the logistics of finishing the vent edges would be awkward: cut the opening? Or work the bottom in pieces? Then, I was going to do a box pleat, but realized that having a hem throughout would create a six-layer fabric at the folds. No good. Here's the solution, spread out:

The hems were worked in two seperate pieces, each spanning from one edge of the back pleat to one front edge. At the turning row, they were joined in a circle, with stitches for the pleat cast on between the back edges and stitches for the front steek cast on between the front edges. A few rows of moss stitch to stabilize the bottom edge of the pleat,and everything seems to be fine. You can see the fold lines, sort of, in the photo - mountain folds are done with a column of stitches slipped with the yarn in back, while valley folds are done with the yarn in front.

This will benefit from a thorough washing and dressing as well - hopefully, I'll be able to get a very crisp edge on the folds.

I can't wait till I have a little more to show you guys - the shaping plans are working out really well, though it's hard to see how the pattern changes when there are only 12 rows done. Then, too, I have all kinds of plans for the collar and for how to do the front bands...I think this is what I love most, tweaking and refining and seeing the project evolve into a thing with a personality I had no hand in.

Meta

Thanks for the nice comments on the site redesign! Glad you guys approve :)

Also, if you've emailed me or asked a question in the comments re: knitting in the last couple weeks, and I haven't responded, please don't be mad at me! I've been insanely busy with all sorts of things - please feel free to re-send, and I'll get back to you.

From the comments

The brocade jacket is still going to happen, but it's on hold for a little while to make way for this cardigan. My brocade pattern needs a *lot* of messing around with before I'll be happy with it...and this project is so "ready" to be made. Laziness rules the day around here.

Tina wanted to know, "When you swatch fari-isle, do you knit in the round, or knit from right to left, leave the strands behind the work, and then knit from rihgt to left again : ie, only knit (not purl)? I thought I saw an edge that looked like it had been cut, and I just wonder what the best way of swatching fair-isle is?"

I swatch Fair Isle that's going to be knit in the round on DPNs, and cut it up the back. I tend to make pretty generous swatches - I like to see as many repeats of the pattern I can - so I just cut with abandon at the end-of-round, not even bothering to set a steek or anything.

I feel like this gives me the most accurate measurements, the closest to knitting on a circular needle.

April 21, 2006

A Deficit of Attention

Do you ever get an idea in your head, an idea that must come out, season or propriety or priorities be damned? It's curious, the things that make our synapses fire and click and set things itching.

It started when I was flipping through the incomparable Sheila McGregor's Traditional Scandinavian Knitting, and came across this historical sample in the section on Norwegian jumpers:

The graphic punch of the white waist against that tapestry-rich upper pattern was exciting, sure, but what really suprised me was the tight shaping. Oh, possibilities!

I swatched the pattern in some 2-ply Shetland I had lying around, and fell wholly in love. The pattern, for all its intricate appearance, has a wonderfully sensible math behind it, a sequence of 5s and 3s that mirror and match predictably, satisfyingly, from row to row.

Unfortunately, it was enormous. One repeat spans 48 stitches - even at 9 stitches to the inch on US2 (2.75mm) needles, one repeat covers more than five inches. At this scale, I'd hardly get three stars across the back, and the pattern would be lost completely in the planned princess shaping. So, I set about downsizing it, and came up with this:

It's a compromise, for sure - the pattern only saves an inch-and-a-half or so per repeat, and a lot of the richness in the diagonal bands is lost by replacing the die-like squares with simple crosses. The numbers work out well, though, with the size I'm planning, and there's a satisfying sort of simplicity in the negative/positive/negative crosses echoed from band to band - I can live with it.

A little unwashed, coned Harrisville New England Shetland, in an oatmeal color for the plain band and a pretty camel/Wedgewood combination for the pattern:

The effect is very subtle - the pattern doesn't read perfectly, but there is a faded, antique feeling about it I really like. I may swatch again, switching yarns, but I like this pretty well already.

Here's what I'm planning: a tightly fitted jacket/cardigan that hits at the hip, shaped at the waist along princess seam lines and closed up the front with lots of hook-and-eyes. There will be a hem at the waist, with cuffs and stand-up Mandarin collar (patterned with a smaller diagonal grid pattern) done in the manner of very wide hems. The front band, too, will be done like a hem - oatmeal yarn picked up all the way up the front to the tip of the collar, knitted straight for a bit, turned under and cast off into the pickup loops for a very narrow, firm band. A wide ribbon facing will be in order, I think, at the collar - I don't care if it's blazing, stifling summer when I finish this, it's getting started right this second.

April 09, 2006

Here

I'm here, and fine...I try to make a point of keeping this blog strictly about knitting, but suffice it to say that blogging - or even knitting, really - hasn't been much of a priority lately. I'll be back soon, though, with some news about interesting things I've been working on, and the conclusion to the lace series, and the usual varied and sundry bits of knitting pedantry I love (and have missed rambling on about).

Thanks very much for the concern - sorry if I've been cause for alarm. I'm going to make the best of this unforeseen break, and work on implementing some of the changes and additions I've been planning forever - galleries, and stores, and new patterns, and PDF collections of technique series, and other good stuff.

Back to daily updates sometime this week...see you then!



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