Tuesday, September 20, 2016

That was the weekend that was

Last weekend I anticipated much knitting would occur when I visited a friend one state over. Some knitting did occur, on the socks, but sweater knitting was non-existent since I had left the critical working needle on the coffee table at home. Just as well, as I noticed a flaw in the fabric today, one that I might have let go had it been only visual. Since it would throw off the matching of the front and back at the seams, I was forced - FORCED, I tell you - to rip back about eight inches.

Over at the knit-along I am knitting-along-side-of, someone ripped back an entire l-o-n-g cardigan since it turned out all wrong for her body. Other knitters-along have ripped back cheerfully as well. I won't say I was cheerful about it, but I do want my sweater to be as near perfect as can be.

My weekend visit just happened to coincide with A Wool Gathering. Despite all the pretty yarn, gorgeous roving, raw fleeces, and fiber arts do-dads, I managed to walk away with just a knitting belt. Right now, I tuck one 13" straight needle into my armpit, which sort of works for supported knitting. I envision a knitting belt as a necessity to improving on this technique. Unfortunately, I can't find any 13" double-pointed needles above size US6. From watching YouTube videos, I see I can simply remove one end of a pair of straights and use them.

Just before I left on my weekend trip, I wove a few rows using the "natural" colored yarn. The whitish yarn completely overwhelms the other colors. Argh! So I am contemplating alternatives. Right now I lean toward variable width stripes using the yarn left over from warping, interspersed with stripes of natural. Today I weighed the leftover yarn, and I think I have enough to do this.

Fiber arts are always an adventure.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Progress report

I tell people that the most important character trait or talent a knitter needs is persistence. It takes a lot of stitches to make even small things, like socks. One must keep putting one stitch after another, until done.

I'm not done yet, but the sock heels have been turned and the front of the ruby red sweater reaches almost to my waist.

Then, inspired by the first meeting of the local weavers guild for the 2016-17 season, I started warping the loom for a blanket, to be woven in three panels. Per usual, this project has been a learning experience *already*. I used a warping board, but since the back rod/warping stick on the Ashford is not removable, one needs to jury-rig something if following the instructions in Inventive Weaving on a Little Loom. Instead, I cut the loops and threaded them through the heddle one by one.

I *was* going to try to weft with a gradient of grays, but decided it would be too challenging to get the three panels to match. I'm going with "natural" instead, but may add a row or two of something colorful, to help me keep track of the rows. The weft yarn won't arrive until Thursday, so I have been stretching out the warping stage, to keep my motivation motivating.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

WIPs and pieces

I was knitting in public the other day, at the Little Turtle branch of our local library system, when a woman stopped to ask what I was knitting. Usually it is non-knitters who initiate such conversations, but this woman (whose name I neglected to get) is a knitter and a spinner. In fact, she invited me to the local spinners guild, which I know about but have yet to attend. She also clued me in on how to knit tube socks for kids: use this spiral pattern so they are more likely to stay up.

Now I am itching to finish the current socks so I can try out the spiral ones. This pic of Vintage Kitchen is just before the heel turn, one of which I completed today. Heel turns require good light and a quiet atmosphere so I can hear myself count. Rarely do I finish more than one a day.

I was hoping to hang out with the knitters in Slow TV National Knitting Eve, but the dialog is in Norwegian, necessitating the reading of subtitles. Some knitters can knit without looking, but I am not one of them, especially when working a heel turn. I watched a bit, but decided I would rather knit to acoustic music from Spotify.

The top down sweater is coming along, slowly but surely. I work the front until I reach the end of a skein, then work the back to the end of a skein. The pattern is six rows long, and I can listen to a book on CD while working it (current listen The Plague of Doves, by Louise Erdrich).

So I have a big project for knitting on the sofa and a portable one for hauling hither and yon. When the sweater is finished, I plan to complete the stalled poncho. Then there is another sweater's worth of yarn that might become a cabled pullover. And then I added a sweater to my queue today that is knit in fingering weight yarn. I think my knitting eyes are too big for my needles!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

One step forward, one step back, X 3

Too bad I didn't read the Fringe Association post on incorporating a stitch pattern in a top down sweater. If nothing else, it may have spurred me to plan better. It probably would *not* have helped me deal with picked up stitches being a half stitch off, though.

And that is the lie about the so-called invisible cast on. When one picks up the stitches from the cast on, to knit in the opposite direction, they will be a half stitch off. This probably does not show (much) when knitting stockinette or garter, but loudly shouts its existence when there is a stitch pattern involved. I tried several ways of finding satisfaction with the shoulders of my drop down sweater, but finally settled on knitting an inch or so of seed stitch across the top of the shoulders, to disguise the half stitch shift.

Amazingly, I can fit my fat head through the neck hole!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Second guessing gone wild

So. After deciding to knit my drop shoulder top down ski sweater in moss stitch... I started it in the large checks that I thought I did not like. And guess what - I was right, I do NOT like the large checks. So I started over, with the moss stitch. And guess what - I was wrong, I do NOT like the moss stitch. So I swatched again, this time using the ringwood stitch i previously used for a pair of gloves and a baby sweater.

Now THIS I like! If you are ever knitting a sweater and find yourself thinking, It would be easier just to BUY a sweater, STOP and change something - the yarn, the needles, the pattern, SOMETHING. I was freaking out a bit about starting over for the third time, but I am so glad I did.

While second guessing the stitch pattern, I was also second guessing the size. Fortunately, Fringe Association posted about measuring other sweaters as a guide for determining stitch counts. I piled up a bunch of store-bought sweaters but was not sure I liked what they were telling me. Then I pulled out a handknit sweater and tried it on, to determine the ease. Perfectly zero. I usually wear something fitted under this sweater and it works fine. Let's measure it.

Just what I expected.

The next question is, How much ease do I want in my new sweater? Given swatching is a gamble and arithmetic is a lie, causing my sweaters to turn out larger than I plan, I am going to aim for zero ease on this sweater, with the expectation that some positive ease will magically appear. Perfectly logical, right?

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

An even dozen

I was going for a baker's dozen (13), but when it came time to start one more ballband dishcloth, I just could not do it. So twelve is enough for this summer.

Pattern: Ballband Dishcloth (from Mason-Dixon Knitting)
Yarn: Various and sundry leftover Lion Brand Cotton, in solids and prints
Needles: US7
Modifications: Used Old Norwegian cast on and suspended bind off

There really isn't much to say about this stash-busting project other than I am glad it is over. Even though it is still August and hot, the light is shifting and autumn will be here before you know it. Time to return to wool.

Here are the individual dishcloths, in case you want to see more detail.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Look what I made (sorta)

Not the ballband dishcloth (although I did make that). I'm talking about the yarn bowl. One blistering Saturday when we were tired of being cooped up in the house, my SO and I took my granddaughter to Bisque It Pottery. Nora had been to a pottery painting place before, but not one that also glazed and fired the pieces. Of course, she was "done" with hers in about five minutes. Mine took quite a bit longer.

I usually work from center-pull balls of yarn, so don't really "get" yarn bowls. Yet it seemed like the logical choice for me. (SO painted a pencil holder.) Even though I put three coats on my piece, coverage was not as complete as I hoped. For a first time attempt, I think the result is okay, though. And it is handy for keeping a ball of yarn from wandering.

Pottery painting is surprisingly soothing. (It might have been even more soothing without a five-year-old.) When Nora and I stopped to pick up our fired pieces, we scoped out all the other possibilities. I might do some dinnerware (dishwasher and microwave safe!) to continue to refine my skills. Then maybe some art for the garden?