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December 21, 2006

Bayerische Socks: Project Gallery

Socken Maud, in Regia Silk Socken Rebecca, in Zwerger Garn Opal Socken Kel, in Knitpicks sock yarn

Updated 12/22/06 2:30 PM
Other Galleries: Anemoi Mittens | Bayerische Socks | Chuck's Cabled Socks | Deep V Argyle Vest | Endpaper Mitts| Print O The Wave Stole | Venezia Pullover

Would you like to share a photo of a finished Deep V vest, Print o' the Wave Stole, Bayerische Sock, Anemoi Mitten, or Chuck's Cabled Sock? Email me with a photo and a link to your blog (if you've got one), and I'll set you up in a reader gallery.

December 20, 2006

Anemoi Mittens: Project Gallery

Juju's mittens, in Chat Botté Nenuphar and Fonty BB Mérinos Chauntel's mittens, in Patons Kroy Laura's mittens, in Koigu PPM and Henry's Attic Kona Superwash


Updated 12/22/06, 2:20 PM
Other Galleries: Anemoi Mittens | Bayerische Socks | Chuck's Cabled Socks | Deep V Argyle Vest | Endpaper Mitts| Print O The Wave Stole | Venezia Pullover

Would you like to share a photo of a finished Deep V vest, Print o' the Wave Stole, Bayerische Sock, Anemoi Mitten, or Chuck's Cabled Sock? Email me with a photo and a link to your blog (if you've got one), and I'll set you up in a reader gallery.

Print O' The Wave Stole: Project Gallery

Lisanne's stole (take two) **click for big**
Emily's super-133t pillows, in mohair backed with raw silk Ann's stole, in Blue Heron Mercerized Cotton Lisanne's stole (take one) **click for big**
Nathalie's stole in Handmaiden Seasilk, for her sister-in-law's wedding **click for big** Jenipurr's stole, in Knitpicks Alpaca Cloud Angelika's stole, in blue mohair
Holly's stole, in Knitpicks Alpaca Cloud Keri's stole, in Spritely Goods Virga Sylph Yvonne's stole, in Rowan Kidsilk Haze

Updated 12/22/06, 2:15 PM
Other Galleries: Anemoi Mittens | Bayerische Socks | Chuck's Cabled Socks | Deep V Argyle Vest | Endpaper Mitts| Print O The Wave Stole | Venezia Pullover

Would you like to share a photo of a finished Deep V vest, Print o' the Wave Stole, Bayerische Sock, Anemoi Mitten, or Chuck's Cabled Sock? Email me with a photo and a link to your blog (if you've got one), and I'll set you up in a reader gallery.

Deep V Argyle Vest: Project Gallery

Sarah's vest, in Knitpicks Merino Style Marika's vest, in 2-ply wools
Rebecca's vest, in hand-dyed (!) Rowan Yorkshire Tweed DK Erin's vest Kate's super-133t skully vest, in Knitpicks Merino Style


Updated 12/22/06, 1:30PM
Other Galleries: Anemoi Mittens | Bayerische Socks | Chuck's Cabled Socks | Deep V Argyle Vest | Endpaper Mitts| Print O The Wave Stole | Venezia Pullover

Would you like to share a photo of a finished Deep V vest, Print o' the Wave Stole, Bayerische Sock, Anemoi Mitten, or Chuck's Cabled Sock? Email me with a photo and a link to your blog (if you've got one), and I'll set you up in a reader gallery.

Endpaper Mitts: Project Gallery

Juju's mitts, in Regia sock and Chat Botté Nenuphar
Cairi's mitts, in Rowan 4 Ply Soft (take one) Cairi's mitts, in Rowan 4 Ply Soft (take two) Cairi's mitts, in Rowan 4 Ply Soft (take three)
Diana's mitts, in Knitpicks Palette and Drops Alpaca Jessica's mitts, in Jamieson & Smith's Jumperweight Shetland Rebecca's mitts, in Dale Baby Ull and Koigu PPM
Rebecca again, this time in hand dyed (!) wool Bewildery's too-cool negative mitts, in Jamieson & Smith's Jumperweight Shetland Nicole's mitts, in Lanett superwash

Updated 12/22/06, 2:40 PM
Other Galleries: Anemoi Mittens | Bayerische Socks | Chuck's Cabled Socks | Deep V Argyle Vest | Endpaper Mitts| Print O The Wave Stole | Venezia Pullover

Would you like to share a photo of a finished Deep V vest, Print o' the Wave Stole, Bayerische Sock, Anemoi Mitten, or Chuck's Cabled Sock? Email me with a photo and a link to your blog (if you've got one), and I'll set you up in a reader gallery.

December 17, 2006

Full Force

I've been obsessed with making a yoked cardigan for months.

And I mean obsessed: like, staring at yoked sweaters on the street obsessed, doodling endless concentric circles in book margins obsessed, losing myself in the contemplation of a lemon cross section obsessed. Posessed, maybe. I blame Adrian, mostly, who's been cranking out glorious sweaters like it's the easiest thing in the world. Jess isn't helping, either. The construction looks so clean and fresh and elegantly simple; the finished products are wonderfully detailed, but eminently wearable.

I originally wanted colorwork, maybe in the Bohus style. Then, I was thinking that I might miraculously manage to spin the pounds of natural-colored Rambouillet I've got socked away, and do some Norwegian-style colorwork. Then, I wanted to spin some lovely green Merino I've got, and do a crazy damask pattern in two-end knitting. I kept planning bigger and bigger.

Then, a brainwave, spurred by an appealing yarn - a subtle, beautifully heathered inside-of-a-scallop pinky lavender shade of Harrisville New England Shetland (an unobtrusively pretty yarn, you see, that would not compete in the patterned sections - but would not look flat and boring in the long stockinette sections, either). I knit the longest swatch known to man - nearly a full ball of yarn - settled on the motifs, and drew a little sketch, just to get an idea of where things might go.

Here's what I am thinking: a very simple, stripped-down cardigan with three-quarter sleeves and a single cable motif lying around the shoulders like a broad torc, with smaller echoing motifs at body and sleeve hems. The motif is based on a simple, often-seen border in Celtic imagery: two key-style lines wrapping in and out of each other sinuously (the horizontal orientation of the band makes it enormously tedious to work - but the result is pretty, I think). As you might have guessed, the operating principle ended up being simplicity: this final iteration is really a plain-jane garment in a sturdy, workhorse yarn, with just enough rich, delicate detail to make it a little something different.

Three days have brought me to the joining point for the sleeves. Can you tell that I'm having fun?

December 11, 2006

How To Be Happy

Or, How to Block Any Lace Shawl.

Or, Block Me, Amadeus, Part II

Or, Majoring in Lace, Part 234312321.

The usual disclaimers apply - strong opinions lie ahead, these are opinions only, based on my experiences, your mileage may differ, and so on and so forth.

Onward. Blocking, or dressing, is absolutely necessary for any piece of knitted lace - even sculptural lace patterns in close-knit cotton or linen need gentle blocking to persuade them to take shape, and shawls, scarves and stoles usually need aggressive tugging and stretching to encourage the patterns to bloom. The complex relationships between increases and decreases in lace fabrics - sometimes far apart from each other, sometimes right next to each other - create innumerable stresses on the fabric: some portions are bias fabrics, some pockets puff out from many adjacent increases; some areas want to pucker in from many adjacent decreases. The resulting piece, fresh off the needles, is ripply, bubbly, nipply...fugly.

Blocking, of course, smoothes out the pliable, forgiving fabric into a perfectly flat, airy, and open fabric with beautiful drape - and, to some extent, "sets" the stitches in their stretched position. How to go about evenly, efficiently and accurately blocking an enormous, awkward piece of fabric, though? Here's how I do it:

Soak the finished wrap (ends darned, but not clipped) in lukewarm water with a dribble of wool wash. (I use rinse-free stuff, but good baby shampoos work just as well, though you need to add a rinse cycle. I've been using this Soak stuff lately - I bought it on a whim, and have been pleased with the way it smells and the way it leaves the fabrics feeling. It's pricey, though - I'll probably go back to Johnson's Baby when this bottle runs out). Fill a sink basin with warmish water, add just a little soap (if the water feels slippery, it's too much), and poke the knitting under the surface. If the knitting is dirty, it's alright to squeeze some suds through the fabric - but don't agitate or rub or otherwise manhandle the wet piece, unless you're looking to felt or break something.

Drain the knitting and rinse (if necessary). Pull the plug in the sink basin, and let the soapy water run out. Press the wadded knitting gently against the side of the sink to express some water. If a rinse is needed, refill the basin with water of the same temperature (don't let the running water hit the knitting), gently swish, drain, and repeat until the water runs clear.

Express nearly all the water by rolling the knitting in a towel. Now, an important point: knitting is tough, but it's not invincible. Whenever the damp fabric is moved - from sink to towel, and from towel to blocking surface - it needs to be supported. Protein fibers are weaker when wet than when dry, and there is an off chance that a dangling bit could pull out of shape or a fiber could break under its own waterlogged weight. Transport wet knitting in a colander, or two hands, or in some other way that leaves no hanging or spilt-over parts.

To get the knitting almost dry, roll it in a thirsty, thick bath towel, and stand on it (salad spinners work well, too).

Prep an appropriate blocking surface. For something as large and unwieldy as most shawls and stoles are, a blocking board just isn't big enough. Fresh sheets on a double bed will work, though, or a just-vacuumed carpet (usually, I cover a blocking surface with an oilcloth before blocking, to hurry drying and discourage water from seeping into a porous surface. With barely-damp lace, though, it's not a concern). Make sure you have room to maneuver around the perimeter of the knitting.

And make sure you have pins - lots of pins. I use small quilter's T-pins: they are cheap, rustproof, and easy to handle. Some shawls will need literally hundreds of pins during blocking - forget schmancy pins that cost $2.99 a 12-pack, and get cheapies that cost $2.99 a 100-pack.

(Did I mention that this post was going to have a lot of photos?)

Pin out the main corners of your piece. For a triangle, this means the top corners and the bottom point; for a circle, the four compass points; and for a square or rectangle, the four corners. Note that this is where you determine the finished size of your shawl - pin one corner first, then gently pull the opposite point until it feels just slightly stretched (but not taut). Pin the other corner or corners in the same way, checking with a big T square to make sure your angles are straight. At this point, you can tell whether you have pinned too tight, or too loose, and it is easy to make adjustments.

How aggressively you block is largely a matter of preference. With good wool, I block very tightly - often, the knitting rises very slightly off the blocking surface as it shrinks and dries, pulling taut like a drumhead. You should consider several things when deciding how far you can push it: 1) the integrity and structure of the yarn. I feel less comfortable blocking singles very tightly than plied yarns; cobweb yarns than laceweight yarns; shoddy yarns than good, solid yarns. 2) Fiber content. Some fibers, like alpaca, are particularly weak when wet. 3) The knitting gauge. Very loose gauges can really be opened up. Closer gauges won't tolerate heavy stretching. 4) The stitch. Allover lace patterns with patterning on every row look best when opened up as much as possible. Small lace motifs in a mostly stockinette or garter ground probably won't need heavy blocking.

In all cases, the point is to open up the crumply lace fabric, not to significantly stretch the stitches or fibers themselves. I've never snapped a thread during blocking, but it does happen; it's ridiculous to tread as if on eggshells, but don't go in there screaming banzai, either.

Bisect each section between pins. Hold a straightedge against the two flanking pins for accuracy.

And again.



And again.

Keep going until it looks right. If your edges are to be pinned out into points, you will probably be done fairly soon. If you have straight edges, keep pinning again and again at section midpoints until there is no scalloping or pulling.

Let it dry undisturbed. Unless you live in a particularly cold or humid climate, the piece should be dry within a few hours. Unpin and clip any hanging ends.

Of note:

  • This process will, of course, need to be repeated every time the shawl is washed. The wrap might also need re-blocking after a period of time in humid air. It really doesn't take that long; it took me about 15 minutes to block the shawl above, from soak to final pinning.

  • Blocking wires or string can be used to simplify things a little; they are particularly useful along straight edges, and where adjustments need to be made that would otherwise mean moving dozens of pins. With blocking wires, thread the wire along the straight edges, and use just a few pins to hold it in place. If using string, run a very long (longer than the perimeter of the stretched wrap) length of crochet cotton along all edges of the dry shawl, leaving a long loop at each corner. Pin out the loops and arrange the knitting along the taut string, pinning as you go.

  • Starching is an option for extremely delicate shawls (like, gossamer weight yarn in very open stitches patterned every row): barely damp knitting should be soaked in a very weak solution of cornstarch and water. I think, though, that starch should be saved for doilys and antimacassars.

  • In Shetland and parts of Russia, shawls are blocked on great wooden frames: a length of cotton is threaded on a tapestry needle, and the shawl is tethered to the frame with a loose whipstitch through every point. I want to try this someday - whenever I have enough space to justify 6" squares lying around the house!

  • Store shawls on an open shelf, folded between two sheets of acid-free tissue paper to minimize creases. Never store a dirty shawl - that's asking for moths.

Now, the shawl itself - that right there is the sum total of my Christmas knitting, Evelyn Clark's Swallowtail Shawl from the Fall '06 IK, in my own handspun. It's going to my grandmother, who taught me to knit when I was very small. This has been an odd year for me, bad in some personal ways, but good and better than good in some professional, knitting-related ways. It seems appropriate and respectful and satisfying to give her something that shows my gratefulness - and that I am still learning so many things.

December 08, 2006

Chartres

Rose window, outer rim:

(I've been all about the little projects lately - can you tell? This hat is something I've been knocking around for a while, and finally got a couple days to work on. I'll show more soon - I've been wanting to talk about color for Fair Isle for a couple weeks now, and the pattern for this hat will provide a great canvas for anyone who wants to play along. And besides, it's pretty - fancy decreases in pattern and neato knobbly hem and glowing dying star colors and all).

December 06, 2006

Anemoi Mittens - FAQ and Errata

Frequently Asked Questions About This Pattern

What yarn did you use?

For my pair, I used Louet Gems Opal Pearl, of course in the color Tobacco, and Koigu KPM in very light, almost cream beige. Any fingering-weight yarns should work just fine, as long as you can reach the given gauge.

How about a solid pattern yarn and a variegated/self striping/ombre-style yarn for the background?

That would look fantastic! Just one thing to keep in mind: make sure your contrast color is either darker or much lighter in value than all the shades in your multicolored yarn to ensure the pattern's "readability".

What needles are required?

A set of 2.00mm (US 0) DPNs for the cuff (all sizes) and a set of 2.25mm (US 1) DPNs for size small; 2.5mm (US 1.5) DPNs for size medium; and 2.75mm (US 2) DPNs for size large. Sets of 5 DPNs are recommended.

Errata

  • In the cuff directions, both Round 1 and Round 2 of the corrugated rib should read "...end k1MC, p1MC" instead of "end k1MC".
  • In right and left mitten charts, the chart key should show a blank square as the main color and the dotted square as the contrast.

**if you have already purchased this pattern, you may download the newest version at any time by re-accessing the download link in your receipt email. From that page, just click the "request additional downloads" link; I will be happy to approve all requests.

12/6/06 1:43pm - file updated to reflect cuff error
12/7/06 9:48am - file updated to reflect key error

Got something to add? Email me and let me know!

December 05, 2006

Anemoi Mittens

(the wind gods, you know)

I love them, I love them, I love them. I tweaked the chart a little for the second one, and introduced a couple more refinements - a knit row at the base of the corrugated ribbing to get purl channels that look truly inlaid; a neater decrease to the top. And just in time, too - baby, it's cold outside.

The Anemoi Mittens - A decidedly different pair of mittens in an asymmetrical, non-repeating stranded colorwork pattern of windy scrolls and breathy swirls. An unusual semi-corrugated rib and a close-fitting shape ensure toasty fingers and easy movement - go ahead, class up that dirty snowball fight.

This pattern is packed with detailed technique information and tips for working, charts galore, and ridiculously detailed instructions. It even includes a blank chart for charting your own original design.

Women’s Small (Medium, Large): 7.5” (8, 8.5) in circumference around knuckles; length is adjustable.

Yarn requirements: 1 (2, 2) 50g balls fingering weight yarn (180-200yds/50g) in main color; 1 (1, 2) 50g balls in contrast color.

Skill group: This pattern is ideal for knitters already comfortable with two-color stranded knitting in the round, as well as for adventurous novices comfortable with reading charts. You will need to be able to read and follow a chart, increase and decrease in pattern, and do a tubular cast-on to complete this project.

8 pages, 596KB. Adobe PDF compatible with Acrobat 5.0 and newer.

$5.65

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