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October 28, 2005

Meme clickclick typetype

Yahaira and Mintyfresh have both sent some meme dust my way. I love reading these - I love seeing the variety of answers to one question, and I dig seeing knitters address topics they normally wouldn't go out of their way to discuss (needle talk, yarn talk, disaster talk...).

What is your all time favorite yarn to knit with?
Hmm. I'm going to cheat (gotten off to a great start, haven't we?) and say it depends on the type of project. I like doing a lot of different things (cabling, felting, lacemaking, Fair-Isle-ing), and have my go-to yarns for each of those (Cascade 220, Lamb's Pride Worsted, Jaggerspun Zephyr Wool-Silk, and Dale Baby Ull, respectively). I do think very fondly, though, of one discontinued yarn - Rowan's True 4-ply Botany, a fingering-weight wool that came in vivid, deeply saturated colors, and knit up beautifully into highly-formed texture, or jewel-toned colorwork, or plain, smooth stockinette. It wasn't as buttery-soft as a Merino yarn, but the Botany wool definitely had its own brand of lush richness. I don't know why Rowan discontinued it - it was "replaced" with, I think, 4-ply Soft, which isn't the same thing at all.

Your favorite needles?
Circulars, for sure. Addi Turbos for cables, Addi Naturals for lace and Fair Isle. I keep meaning to try out the ebony and rosewood needles everybody talks about, too. I also have a mild obsession with glove needles - I can't help buying a set whenever I see them, although I only knit maybe three pairs of gloves a year. I love the 5" length - so comfortable. I own birch, bamboo, plastic, and metal sets, with the wee little aluminum ones being my favorite.

The worst thing you've ever knit?
Ahh, I wish I had a picture. It was this pretty thing:

Erin, from Rowan 30, a few years ago. As I knit, I learned that I 1) hated stringy, papery All Seasons Cotton; 2) hated reverse stockinette; and 3) hated myself when I seamed the sucker and then couldn't get my head through the turtleneck. I promptly frogged, and then hid the yarn so well that I just realized that I have no idea where it is.

Your most favorite knit pattern? (maybe you don't like wearing it...but it was the most fun to knit)
The Norwegian Stockings were a lot of fun; a cleverly written pattern with zen-like simple colorwork. Fabulous fireside knitting:

The macho aran was interesting to knit, too - my first from-scratch garment. It was immensely interesting to watch it develop as I went along.

Most valuable knitting technique?
Cabling without a cable needle, hands down. I love cables, but don't think I could bear the fiddliness of working with that short, crooked needle for more than a few stitches at a time.

Best knit book or magazine?
I like to look at Interweave Knits, and occasionally make a project out of it. Best one-subject knitting book would have to be Alice Starmore's Aran Knitting, for the incredible wealth of historical information she presents, the beautiful patterns, and the excellent guidance on developing your own garments.

Your favorite knit-a-long?
I thought the Union Square Market Pullover knitalong was really interesting. Lots of information and discussion.

Your favorite knitblogs?
I'll join the chorus, and say I love the blogs with beautiful photographs: Sweet Georgia and Streets and YOs, of course, but I also smile when I see that Knitfix, Whispering Pine, and Fig and Plum have been updated with my daily dose of yarn porn.

Your favorite knitwear designer?
Kate Gilbert. Teva Durham. Veronik Avery. Kim Hargreaves, though "interesting" usually moves over for "classic" with her stuff. Oodles of others.

The knit item you wear the most? (how about a picture of it!)
My cabled hoodie cardigan. Perfect for throwing on over a swimsuit once the sun goes down at the beach, perfect for fending off high whistling winds in the nosebleed seats of a ball park, perfect for layering in these chilly, sunny days. It sees a lot of wear:

Tag time
How about Kate at Knitlit, Laura, over at the almost brand-spanking-new Soapturtle, and Leah at Use Your Hands?

October 27, 2005

Tangents

Lulu asked for yardages on the Norwegian Stockings. I used about one and a half skeins of main color (brown), just about one of the main accent (blue) and a very teeny amount of the cuff accent (white), all with Dale Baby Ull (tangent - Yarndex rocks my world. End tangent), which has about 180 yards to the skein. I'm stumpier than Cotton Hill, so I did just two and a half repeats before decreasing, three and a half after, and (I think) four for the foot. The original pattern calls for eight skeins total of sportweight Dale Heilo, which has 109 yards per.

I'm of the opinion that the best way to learn traditional Fair Isle is with a small project in the round (tangent - I think these are a great beginner project, if you're already comfortable with socks. I hate it when people assign difficulty levels to projects or say that something is too hard for a beginner - all knitting is made of the same basic knit and purl stitches. These stockings have a simple, clear, repetitive pattern, and not much else going on to distract you other than standard sock shaping, and so are perfect for anyone who wants to learn something new and likes to tackle challenges head-on. End tanget), but I'd add that DPNs might not be the way to go. Though I know that's how people in Scotland knit for ages before we had fancy schmancy circulars, it's 1) damn hard to maintain an even tension around the corners, and 2) just another thing to deal with when you're already wrangling with different yarn colors. Magic Loop, or two circulars, is how I'm going to do these next time. All that said - good luck with learning FI! Here's an excellent crash course - not the way I do it (I usually knit with both colors in my left hand), but this is the traditional method, presented in a very effective way indeed. The Philosopher's Wool books are interesting, too, and Alice Starmore's Art of Fair Isle Knitting is absolutely invaluable.

On to the cono dell'abete - I did it. It took roughly the same length of time as it did to build the ark, ride out the deluge, and repopulate the world, and it wrang figurative blood, sweat, and tears out of me (okay, okay! Maybe there were one or two literal tears), but I did it. I picked up Six! Hundred! And! Twelve! dratted, golswinked, doggoned stitches.

Just starting, picking up easy selvedge stitches. Mood: Cocky, with a hint of relief.

1/3 through, and just realizing that, having put the "cut me" loop on the wrong side of the piece, the thread will have to be picked out on every stitch as opposed to simply unraveled. Mild expletives uttered. Mood: Hopeful, but fading fast.

Halfway through. Fingers aching from picking out never-ending thread. Wishing evil visitations upon any and all associated with lacemaking, ever, in the history of knitting. Mood: First-degree murderous.

It got done, though. And for what? This bulbous, floppy, unappealing thing? I'm always amazed by the waiting transformation...but really, it's useless till then (tangent - well, maybe I'll just keep my mouth shut. End tangent).

October 24, 2005

One after another

Thank you for the nice comments about the stockings!

I really liked this pattern; it called for sport weight yarn (Dale Heilo) on 3.25mm (US3) needles, but I downsized it a little with fingering weight (Dale Baby Ull) on 2.75mm needles. The pattern worked out just fine with the new gauge...don't you love it when that happens?

Blossom, Anna and Lulu all asked if they stay obediently up.

Oh boy, do they.

I cheated a little and sewed a band of elastic into the ribbing. If I make these again, I'd probably do what the Big Book Of Knitting recommends and create a tube of stockinette with three needle bindoff at the top of the ribbing as I knit to hold a band.

Overall, a very fun, semi-quick knit, though my tension leaves a little to be desired around the needle changes - it's hard to create an even float when the yarn wants to take the shortest distance around the corner. I might have to...gasp! try Magic Loop out if I make these again and forego my beloved DPNs.

So all along, I've been insisting that these little socks were just a break from the thirteen quintillion other big projects I've got going; that they were a fun little fillip and that I'd get back to duty-knitting just as soon as I could.

Lies, all lies.

Despite all the bitching I've done about Merino Oro, I went out and bought another skein and cast on for the Fir Cone Square out of Folk Shawls.

This'll be a Christmas gift, too, so it counts as Knitting I Should Be Doing, right?

My Sainted Boyfriend came with me to the yarn store and got suckered into keeping the swift turning evenly while I wound all 1300 yards of this by hand. Sorry! And also, hee!

October 23, 2005

Done: Norwegian Stockings

You make me feel like dancing.

Pattern: Norwegian Stockings, Folk Socks by Nancy Bush
Yarn: Dale Baby Ull in colors 3172 (dark brown), 5703 (sky blue) and 0020 (cream).
Yardage: Approximately 300 yards MC, 180 yards CC and 40 yards accent color.
Yarn Source: All About Yarn
Needles: 2.75mm Brittany birch DPNs (set of 4)
Gauge: 32 stitches/10cm
Modifications: Knit with fingering weight yarn and 2.75mm needles instead of sport weight yarn and 3.25mm needles.

See all entries on this project

October 21, 2005

Stranded

I finished up the first Norwegian Stocking (Nancy Bush, Folk Socks) last night, while watching the Caps lose (again).

I am completely, perfectly in love with this clever little pattern, where function and form coexist quietly.

The sole of the foot and toe are worked in a basic 1x1 check, giving strength to the fabric and producing a marvelously thick, sturdy, cushy piece of knitting.

Inside:

Outside:

The heel flap is a pretty, larger check, with the turn done in a plain color. The decreases are written such that the double line of blue continues from hem all the way to the toe uninterrupted. Brilliant.

Inside:

Outside:

The calf shaping is done all in one row, within the pattern. The color shift you see in the wrong side of the work can be blamed on switching from one-handed to two-handed when my left hand cramped, and being careless about which color went on top.

Inside:

Outside:

And then I cast on for the second sock.

These are a fun, fairly quick knit...and Fair Isle always goes like lightning anyway, it's so interesting to see the pattern emerge. I didn't pull an all-nighter for these things (though I was sorely tempted to)...three or four hours of knitting for two days was enough to finish the first stocking. It's so hard to put something down, once one is obsessed - you know how we do.

October 20, 2005

The living room at 11:45

< Yawn >

< glancing at the clock > It's getting late. Better get to bed...I'm just going to knit off this needle. It'll take just a minute.

---

Well, maybe I should just finish the round. Don't they tell you to never stop in the middle of a row in straight knitting? Though I can't see how it could make much of a difference on DPNs, it must be important. Hang on just one second; I just want to finish this round.

---

< regarding knitting critically > Maybe it wouldn't be wise to stop in the middle of a pattern repeat...what if my gauge changes between now and when I pick it up tomorrow? It could happen, you know. I don't think it ever has before, but it totally could. Yeah, I think I better finish this repeat. It'll be done in a flash.

---

Oh, these calf decreases are written in such a cool way...what a smart idea. The rounds are fairly flying by now...let me just get the pattern set, 'kay? One sec.

---

Boy, the rounds are going so quickly after decreasing. I'm practically at the heel shaping anyway...it would take only a couple more pattern repeats. I'm worried, though, that I didn't buy enough yarn for both socks...the yardage counts are off, I think. Or my substitutions were miscalculated - they called for DK on 3.25mms, but I'm using fingering on 2.75mms.

What?

Of course that 3/4 millimeter makes a difference. Weren't you listening at ALL?

---

Dude, this heel flap is so cool. Here, look. Look! Pretty, right? What's that look for?

---

Okay. I mean it this time. I'm done, really. I just want to turn the heel flap and work the gussets and the body of the foot real quick.


It'll take just a minute.


Where are you going?

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 ago...you can't see the back, but I couldn't...quite...zip 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.



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