October 19, 2005

Danke Schön

Thank you so much for the nice comments about Der Schmetterling! It's pretty, but it's not exactly practical for everyday wear anymore. During the summer, I wore it a couple times over a plain white strapless shift, under a fitted bracelet-sleeve jacket. The pink dress I have on under it in the photo is something I bought at Ann Taylor many moons can't see the back, but I couldn' it all the way. Gah.

It took about four ounces of Jaggerspun Zephyr, a laceweight Merino/tussah silk blend. The yarn is fabulously airy, with that peculiar rich crunchiness silk gives, tempered by the softness of the wool. It's exceptionally strong for its weight, too, which is more than I can say for other laceweights *cough*Merino Oro*cough*. I liked making this a lot - it goes blazing quick on 4.5mm (US7) needles, since the lace stre-e-e-e-tches so much when blocked. There are less than 100 stitches on the needle at the widest point. The double frill was the most tedious part...the rest was mindless, Zen knitting.

New things: the Norwegian Stockings out of Nancy Bush's Folk Socks are an object of desperate coveting for me (and I am the Grand High Poobah of covetousness).

I'd call myself a process knitter more than anything else; I like having a FO as much as anyone, but (nerd alert) I take a lot more pleasure in the nitty-gritty of technique and method. I actually cast on for the stockings last night with some random yarn ends lying around in my stash, just to try 'em out. I'm planning to get yarn for the "real" project today, but I was very taken with the way the cuff is written, and wanted to see it knit up right away. Nancy Bush stripes the ribbing with a row of plain knitting at each color change, so the integrity of the stripe isn't compromised either puckered

Or stretched

Why didn't I think of that before? Narrow stripes in regular ribbing look fuzzy in the purl portions of the color change, since the loops of the preceding color show below the loop of the new shade. This way gives you proper stripey stripes. Brilliant.

And THANKS, too, to Meg of Yarn Expressions for her tip on intarsia, taken from Kaffe Fassett. I'm sure everyone else already knew this, but (as usual) I'm the last one to the party. She told me to use short lengths (I'm finding that even strands as long as three yards or so work fine), let them hang, and just pull them through when they get too tangled.

It works capitally. Kiss my bobbin!

WTF moment of the day: The squirrely-looking roofing guy who came out to investigate the water pouring down alongside the woodstove chimney apparantly informed my boyfriend that he (he being Jeff) is "smart not to get an Amurrican one, 'cause Amurrican ones are nuts." An American one of what? "Get"? Two for the price of one! Vaguely misogynistic AND vaguely racist, all in one comment! How efficient.

I just realized that "misogynistic" has "miso" in it. That can't be a coincidence. That's got to mean something. It's making me hungry, too.

Gratuitous shoe photo of the day. I was a solitary crusader against this whole round-toe trend, but I've given in. These are too cute to wage a war over.

October 18, 2005

Done: Butterfly

Pattern: Butterfly, Rowan 37
Yarn: Jaggerspun Zephyr Wool-Silk in color Suede
Yardage: Approximately 1200 yards
Yarn Source: Springwater Fiber Workshop
Needles: 4.5mm (US7) Crystal Palace bamboo circular
Gauge: ? blocked ? unblocked
Modifications: Yarn and needle substitution

See all entries on this project


Not much in the way of new knitting today, as I'm working on relaunching this site together with my proprietary food site and looking into moving Blogger archives to Wordpress. Come ONE, come ALL! You'll SEE categorized posts! You'll THRILL to reliable images! You'll be AMAZED at how much better it looks!

I did get a very leeetle bit done on the second intarsia panel of the Felted Floral Bag while watching 13 Conversations About One Thing (the characters and storylines are engrossing, but thought-provoking? Not so much. The pretension is so thick you could float a raft built of not-cigars on it and sail away).

Compare, please:

I really went fast and loose with the first panel, getting sloppy about tension and ends and holes because I figured it would all come out in the wash (har har har). I'm doing the second panel more carefully - starting a new strand for every block rather than trying to fudge long floats, paying attention to the twisting tension, and generally doing, you know, real intarsia as opposed to whatever Fair Isle mongrel thing I was winging before.

Now, of course, I want to rip back and redo the first panel. Which would be ridiculous. When felted, none of this will matter. Right? Right?

I realized, too, while going through my blog template, that I never showed pictures of one finished object. So here it is, the kupukupu, the sommerfugl, the papillon, the pulelehua, the farfalla, the mariposa, the paru-paro, the schmetterling - that is, Rowan 37's Butterfly:

(Please don't mind that odd pose. I think something in the stack I built to hold the camera at the proper height - a coffee mug on a stack of books on my alarm clock on the nightstand - may have been a bit askew. More than likely, of course, it was me)

September 01, 2005


I take a little pride in the things I'm good at, mostly because I suck at infinitely more things. And while I don't profess to be any sort of knitting goddess or even that I posess anything more than standard-issue skills, I occasionally indulge myself in thinking that, yeah, I can do that.

So, um, why

do my picots look uglier than the Sizzler on prom night?

August 31, 2005

Sooo close

I'm at that point on both Butterfly and on Jeff's sweater where the thing is sooooo close to being done that it's driving me insane that it's not yet.

The main knitting for butterfly is done. I must admit, crazy-making though it is, it's always interesting to see crumply, egg-cartony lace go from this

to this

to this.

I reblocked the front stacked with the back to ensure a perfect matchup for seaming. Aligning all those little diamonds - that was a party, let me tell you.

I was asked how I block items - I do the standard soak in wool wash and lukewarm water, then stretch to shape and pin with quilter's T-pins. I think, though, for my next lace project, I'll use this's such a forehead-slappingly obvious, elegant solution to maintaining straight lines without paying $27 for those packets of glorified coat hanger wire they sell for blocking.

I love how the frill is turning out - the pattern is very clear, but the overall effect is soft and ruffly.

I'm in the middle of seaming the second long seam right now. The fact that the lace goes right! Up! To! The! Edge! makes this whole business kind of a bitch - I gave up on mattress seam after three or four stitches, and am now doing a very inexact, shutting-my-eyes-and-stabbing backstitch that (hopefully) stays just a stitch in from the edge. And the directions for joining the frill, as written, are ridiculous...there's no real reason why you couldn't do a straight caston and castoff, and just sew them. Sure, it's a teensy bit clumsier to have a narrow seam there, but if it saves your eyesight, your fingertips, and your sanity, I think the tradeoff is acceptable.

The neglected macho Aran is humming along, too. The sleeves are about four inches from starting the shoulder strap - then I'll have just knitting and attaching the saddle and some seaming to do. Is it done yet, or what?

August 26, 2005

The Executive Summary

Jeff's sweater is on the homestretch -

I'm going to knit both sleeves at once; that way, once they're off the needle, the main knitting is done. I have an idea for the actual construction of this garment (the shoulder straps, particularly), but I have to think about it. If I know me, it will probably turn out to be a ridiculous, unwieldly method that manages to actually be worse than the sewing I was trying to avoid in the first place.

Martha's clipping along at a nice pace, too:">

The pattern in the forming fabric is a series of groovy interlocking waves, but the stitches should open up to almost perfect squares when blocked. To tell the truth, I'm not sure which I like better:

And Butterfly, slut that she is, is actually becoming easier the less time I spend on her. I'd guess I'm about 30% through the back now. No, wait...make that 50 or 60 if you count the frill.

I apologize. I know...there are only so many pictures one can take of crumpled lace-in-progress.

August 25, 2005


First, can I just say to all you gorgeous people out there how much I appreciate the sweet comments you've left and the messages you've sent, and the fact that you've come by to visit at all? I'm sure you know this already,'re the real heroes. To show my gratitude, I'm offering my firstborn son, should that ever come to pass, on a first-dibs basis. Sign up now!

I know I promised a finished object today, but I'm mired in a pit of almost-finished object angst. I want to make some knotwork frogs out of leather, but every placement I can think of seems awkward. The best I've come up with so far is the drawing on the left - a narrow strip of leather running down the front bands, with knotwork buttons and loops at intervals. Dunno yet.

And because it will give you such a good idea of what this looks like, here's a blurry, arm's-length photo of one quadrant of the front side of the garment.

Butterfly's chugging along; the frill for the back panel is done and the pattern set. Memorizing the lace pattern helped immensely with the frill - the pattern for the body is incredibly simple (it could qualify for movie-theater knitting, if the stitches weren't too fine to knit by touch), but the frill has lace stitches on both right and wrong sides, and a constantly changing stitch count. For me, anyway, it's nothing like an aran pattern that can be seen forming as you knit; it took a really careful walk-through of the 8-row repeat with the goal of understanding exactly what each stitch was doing where, to make this easy in any sense of the word.

old 4.5mm (US7) Crystal Palace bamboo circulars (the pattern calls for a US 8), with the points filed to extreme sharpness. They're fine for this project, as the whole garment can be bunched onto the needle portions comfortably, but I would never use these when a laceweight yarn will end up on or move around the cord. It's impossible to tug anything fine over that join.

I have another idea I'm working on...

Yeah, the swatch is in ugly stashed colors and at too fine a gauge, and the chart I drew for myself had some problems...but it was one in the morning and I was just excited about where this could go. Stay tuned.

August 24, 2005

Actual progress

The front panel of Butterfly is done:

I'm amazed at how quickly this went. I sat down this morning and completed the top half of this in a couple hours - I'd guess there are maybe only six or seven actual knitting hours in this front piece. The back will go even faster, as I've decided to do a straight bind-off at the armhole, rather than duplicate the front neckshaping.

I got a nice chunk of Martha done as well:

I love this fabric, these beads, this color, this pattern, everything. I'm busy thinking, too, about the mechanics of the mods I'm planning on - split side seams and sleeve cuffs; lapels; etc. With the rate this is going, it won't be long.

Tomorrow, I'll have an Actual! Finished! Object! to show you, but I'm not adverse to showing it during the wet-blocking it's undergoing to correct some shaping:

The Beowulf hoodie?

August 23, 2005

Lovely and amazing

So sometimes I have these really vivid dreams about knitting - once I dreamt that a drop spindle was whirling my hair around and inching slowly, inexorably, towards my scalp, and once I dreamt that a giant knitting needle was lunging at me, epee style. Still, I think I've never dreamt of anything quite like this:

417 stitches. In moss stitch (anyone with me on the k1, p1 hate?). In stringy cotton. Crammed on a way-too-small needle, necessitating a major stitch redistribution every 20 stitches or so. Four hundred and seventeen stitches. I have five and half rows done...only seven more to go. The really perverse part, of course, is that none of this is called for in the pattern for a simple pullover - I blundered into this merrily, quite of my own accord.

In other news, I finally cast on for Martha:

I'm planning on doing split sides, with some corner shaping, so I'm knitting into a foundation row of contrasting cotton and hoping to do the garter edging later, after this thing is seamed (want to make something of it?) Too bad I totally failed to notice this little issue:

One of my needles was a 3.25mm needle, where all my others were a 2.75mm. Aughhh. I was at Jeff's house, and didn't see any way I could cram the stitches onto two needles and knit with the remaining needle of the correct I had to cry uncle on this for the night.

On the other hand, it meant I got to work on Jeff's sweater a little more - I'm a solid 3/4 of a way into the front panel before the neck shaping:

The safety pins are my incredibly sophisticated row-counting method...a pin every ten rows means I never lose my place and can match shapings (not that there are any in this piece) for opposing sections. In fact, I'm so sophisticated, this is how I fix mistakes I don't notice until almost too late:

To cement my amazingly, astonishingly fancy refinement in your minds forever, and win your knitting awe and respect for time immemorial, I offer you my very elegant row-counting method for Butterfly:

August 19, 2005

In progress now...

Like everyone else, I have a couple things on the needles right now and a bunch I can't wait to get started on. The main thing I'm working on is a sweater for my boyfriend - promised to him for his birthday two months ago, it's been lingering in various stages of half-completion for a long time. I'm bound and determined to get it done now, as quickly as possible - it's a worsted-weight cotton sweater with traditional motifs; a summer sweater if I ever saw one. I had these vague ideas that he'd wear it with shorts and flipflops walking on a boardwalk...and now August is more than half gone.

I have to say, though, it's kind of fun to see this thing go from a vague sketch:

To a fully fleshed-out, detailed and swatched and calculated blueprint:

To this.

Here's a detail of the motifs: it's going to be a proper old-school aran, drop-shouldered and saddle strapped, with an arrangement of moss stitch, split cables, and a braided cable around a traveling-stitch lattice.

I'm already a day behind - I've been trying to knit a skein a day, working on the assumption that this thing will take about ten skeins. I'm done with the back and halfway through the front panel now, since casting on Sunday.

The Cotton Fleece I'm using is nice enough, but despite its wool content, it's pretty unforgiving when it comes to heavy cabling. It's absolute murder on my hands - so I'm breaking with this lovely thing:

Butterfly, from Rowan 37. I'm using delicious wool/silk Jaggerspun Zephyr in a warm toffee kind of shade. Despite the fineness of the yarn and the size of the garment, the lace pattern really cranks the pattern along - there are only 87 stitches on the needle at the widest point. I've done the double ruffle for the front, and am about halfway done with the panel itself:

And a detail that shows the true color much better than the awful photo above:

Blocked out, this one is going to be an absolute winner.

I can't wait to get started on Martha from the same magazine -

In fingering wool, I think, instead of cotton. Maybe in a dull sage color, with iridescent black or silver beads. Besides that, I have at least ten thousand baby sweaters to knit (I'm thinking fairisle stranded each stitch), and Christmas gifting to get a jump on...and I have a bunch of ideas that I haven't gotten around to patterning or working up yet: a felted jaquard knitting bag; a pullover quilted with knotwork cables; a shawl with a pattern of cherry blossoms...