Friday, February 27, 2009
I really do intend to get better at this.
Also, apparently I forgot about Wednesday Master Knitting Update. I actually have made some progress (not a lot, but some), which I will try very hard to update you on next Wednesday. We'll see how that goes.
Meanwhile -- enjoy the video!
If anyone has further questions about the long tail cast on, or would like to see specific video tips they haven't seen anywhere else, leave your questions/requests in the comments or in the Rox Rocks group on Ravelry.
Monday, February 23, 2009
The good news: I've reduced the number of unfinished projects by two!
The bad news: I didn't actually finish those projects, I've just permanently abandoned them.
First, the red sock. I was working with Handmaiden Casbah, a delightful blend of superwash merino, cashmere and nylon, wonderfully soft and cozy. At 9 sts/in worked in stockinette, the yarn lost a lot of its charm. The sock was too stiff, not terribly stretchy, and the sock was plain boring. I wasn't having fun knitting it, and when I tried it on, it felt like it was cutting off the circulation at my calf. I'm thinking that if I knit a yarn of that thickness to a gauge that tight, I might not be able to have as much negative ease as I'm used to (an inch). So rather than finish the sock, and then never get around to the second one, I decided to frog and wait for Cookie A's sock book that's coming out this spring. I'll knit at a gauge more suitable to the yarn, and take advantage of the near-solid nature of the sock to use a great stitch pattern.
Second, the green mitten. God, I hate that mitten. I hate the color, I hate the mitten pattern that came with it, and I hate the resulting mitten. I can't think of any situation that would compel me to make another one.
So, what have I actually made progress on? Well, I worked on the pink sock yesterday, while at the Minnesota Knitters' Guild annual tea.
Mostly, I've been working on Nina's bedroom. All painting is complete, the shades have been re-hung, the closet is finished, the curtains have been hemmed and hung, and the fabric has been washed, ironed and cut for the slipcover I'm making for the couch that will go in her room. She set up her old bed (it'll be a few weeks before the new one arrives), but she has the new bedside tables and lamps in place.
many hours later...
The couch slip cover is complete. I'm pretty happy with it,.
and Nina is too, which is a relief.
Friday, February 20, 2009
It's not very elegant.
I realize there are issues with different sound levels depending on which camera I was using, and I realize I'm not the smoothest talker and I have an annoying habit of tsking at the beginning of every sentence. Also, I could use some hand cream. Nothing like filming your hands with the macro setting to make that abundantly clear.
I'll work on it.
I'm just so delighted that I *did* this. It's not easy to knit yourself a movie!
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Progress: I wrote one paragraph for one of the knitting book reviews. Whoop dee doo.
I also went to Home Depot for the 18th time in the past week. I seem to have some sort of measuring deficit disorder.
Nina's closet door is six feet wide. Inside the closet, to the right, is a recessed area two feet deep that was formerly occupied by a built-in dresser. We pulled out the dresser (the drawers always stuck, so she never used them) and she wanted a closet rod installed crosswise in that little alcove. So I measured it. Twice, because that's what you're supposed to do, and I wrote the measurement down. I used a measuring tape I don't like, but it was the only one I could find. Every foot, it starts the inch count again, so if you want to know the total inches you have to do the conversion yourself. This is not difficult for me. I am so good at mental math that as a sixth grader, when my brother and I rode our bikes to the grocery store to do the weekly shopping, I would add up the grocery total in my head as we went through the aisles, to make sure we had enough money for everything. I was accurate down to the penny, including the tax on taxable items. (We had a single mother who was re-writing her PhD dissertation while in her first semester of medical school. Grocery shopping was the least we could do.) Nina's closet is 27" deep. I know this, because I measured it twice. And wrote it down.
I went to Home Depot to the Closet Maid aisle and got a 3' closet rod. I asked one of the workers to cut it down to 26 1/2" inches. I planned to put caps on the ends of the rod, and wanted enough clearance in case the wall width varied anywhere. I also got a 6' shelf cut down so I had 2 26 1/2" shelves. And I bought a 3' hang track which I would have to cut down myself with a hack saw.
I carefully measured the hang track, marked it, and sawed off the end. I took it to the closet and held it up against the wall. It was too short by about 3" on each end. I measured the track. 26 1/2". What the heck? I had Michael measure the closet depth. 2 feet 7 inches. It seems I somehow forgot that a foot has twelve inches. Michael charitably proposed that perhaps I thought the U.S. had actually converted to the decimal system. So back to Home Depot.
I'm not going to go into how I bought a 6' closet rod to hang curtains which will replace her closet door and came home with a rod 5'8" long.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
(these are actually the after pictures from the last time we did this particular project)
The girl in that photo had just turned 10 years old.
She is now 14 and has very different ideas about what her room needs to look like. Her plans included painting parts of her room black. So this weekend, we painted. And so far, the room looks like this:
Tonight we will install the closet shelving system. Over the next few weeks various other things will arrive to fill the room, such as a new bed, bedside tables and lamps (courtesy of Nana, aka The World's Best Mother-in-Law™, who is moving to new digs), curtains to cover the now-doorless closet, plus a new bedroom door with mirror. We have a few things left to pick out, like an area rug for the floor. Her dresser is moving into the closet, so she's going to have more floor space and will need another piece of furniture, such as a chair or couch (we just haven't decided which of the two pieces we have will look best yet.)
In knitting news, I finished the I-cord edging for the garter stitch blanket and wove in the ends. What a difference the I-cord made -- the rippled edges are gone, and it looks great. I still need to wash it to give it a final finished blocking, but that will have to wait for another day.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Crashing software makes Mommy cranky, so you can imagine how the rest of my day went after I was recruited to drive three 7th graders to Mall of America to buy an outfit for a party and one 9th grader to IKEA to buy bedroom accessories (we're painting her room this weekend).
It appears I will be using iMovie, which is on the Mac Mini which is attached to our "media room" system. This means I will be able to use the actual knitting video I shot, but none of the webcam video. It also means learning to use a new piece of software, which wouldn't be so bad, except did I mention the Mac Mini is attached to the media room equipment? This is the same equipment that requires three remote controls and the memory of an elephant in order to remember how to turn the system on so I can watch live TV.
This ought to be fun.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
I've been sorting through the "knitting office," detangling balls of yarn, throwing out scraps of swatching experiments, finding missing needles, filing away miscellaneous patterns, and bagging up UFOs with their associated yarn.
Here is the box of yarn that needs to be put away in the craft room.
I really enjoy starting new projects. I've noticed in the past year or two that I'm doing a lot more projects that take less than 6 hours to complete. I'm pretty sure I do that so I can start another project right away, but still end up with some completed items.
Even so, I still have too many projects on the needles that take longer than 6 hours, and Ive gotten to the point where I'm feeling overwhelmed by all the incompleteness (it happens a couple times a year), so it's time to introduce a little self-control and discipline, something I have very little endurance for.
I went through my Ravelry projects and looked at my Works in Progress as well as my Hibernating projects. I deleted anything that was an Ugh! because today I either threw it out (so long Peaches n Cream crocheted string bag!) or I frogged it months ago to use the yarn for something else (out of my projects list, thrummed hat!).
That leaves me with 15 unfinished projects. Fifteen. That includes the Level II stuff I have to complete, like that damned Fair Isle mitten and those lace swatches. That is, the Level II stuff altogether counts as one unfinished project. Of epic proportions, but I'm trying to feel optimistic.
I have vowed to complete three things before I allow myself to start anything new, and I am going to try really, really hard to complete more than three things before I start anything new, but given my track record, my low levels of self-control and my complete lack of discipline, I'm already losing my grip on optimism.
#1 - Master Hand Knitting Level II - I found the two finished Fair Isle mittens, but not the partially completed third.
Or maybe I did. I found something that resembeled a mitten (no stranded knitting done on it yet), it wasn't on needles, and it was completely entangled in a bunch of other yarn. So I threw it away. I have a feeling I'll be casting on for a mitten this evening.
#2 and #3 - The Garter Stitch Blanket and crocheted afghan from the other day. I'm not going to take pictures of those.
#4 - The Manon. I got back to the point where I had been when I ripped the whole thing out, and I lost steam. There are photos of that thing elsewhere.
#5 Bristow cardi
It's been in a time out under the bed since a year ago when I knit the first half of the second sleeve on a needle one size smaller than the first sleeve (and the rest of the sweater). This is possibly the worst photo I have taken of any knitting ever. Sorry.
#6 Alpaca cardi, circa 1991.
When I sorted through all my knitting stuff a year or so ago, I found a copy of Rowan 6 and was amazed at how great the patterns looked so many years later. I really found myself drawn to one cardigan in particular. Later, I found all the pieces of that cardigan in another bag, already knit, but could not locate any memory of knitting those pieces, although I am certain no one else in this house did, given a) they don't knit and b) I didn't know anyone in this house at the time (most of the other people in this house weren't born when this thing was knit). It needs to have button bands and a collar, but otherwise it's mostly done. (Actually, maybe that long rectangle of magenta chenille is the collar. Hmm. At any rate, I still like it. I hope I'm not too big for it when it's done. I was 20 lbs lighter in 1991. On the other hand, the styles ran larger back then.
Uh, there are 7 pairs of unfinished socks.
#7 The red socks - my "current" project - made from Handmaiden Casbah, a blend of cashmere, merino and nylon. No photo at the moment. The yarn color is similar to the Bristow cardi, so my guess is any photo taken at the moment would give it the honor being the second worst knitting photo ever.
#8 The car ferry socks
I made this one on our trip to Ludington to visit my mom last summer, which included 4 hours each way on the car ferry.
#9 Barb's Pomatomus
These have been dormant for almost two years. I have finally come to terms with the fact that while I loved knitting the first pair of Pomatomus socks, I have no interest in knitting a second pair. These will be frogged and turned into something that I will finish so that Barb doesn't have to listen to any more excuses about why the socks I am allegedly knitting for her have yet to appear.
#10 Pink socks
I started these last spring and then abandoned them. Interesting. I was knitting them on dpns, I think just to remind myself that I still like dpns, even though I mostly knit Magic Loop these days.
#11 Bright Stripes socks.
I love this yarn (it's some sort of Regia 4 ply). What I did not love was the discovery that I did not have the right number of stitches on the sole when I grafted the toe. I miscounted or something, and ended up with a foot 1/2 inch too big around. The sock has been in a time out since then. I appear to hold my grudges for a long time.
#12 Blue Tweed socks
This yarn makes reading my stitches nearly impossible, and the subtlety of the color changes makes finding the same starting point problematic. I would be okay with fraternal twin socks if all the stripes were blue, but there's one white stripe that would make the fraternal nature too obvious for my obsessive matchy-match syndrome. I'm not sure if I'll ever have the fortitude to knit the second sock.
This was a fun sock to knit, and I did so on a cruise a couple years ago, but I never got around to finishing the cuff (I kept screwing it up and then as is my habit, I put the sock in a time out and forgot about it). I'm actually not sure where the sock is at the moment, so I present you with a photo of the kit.
#14 Thrummed mittens
I knit the first mitten as the sample for a class I taught last fall, and then I worked on the second one while I taught the class. I got about 1/2 way through it, and then wandered off. Given this is incomplete item #14, this most likely comes as no surprise.
#15 Fleece Artist "Favourite mittens"
I made a pair of mittens from a different colorway (or "colourway," as they say in Canada) a few years ago for a friend of mine, and the yarn was a delight. I bought a second kit, thinking I would make these for my sister-in-law, who wears quite a bit of green. I ordered the yarn online, and the color wasn't quite what I expected so I didn't knit it up. This fall, I made the first mitten one day while watching NetFlix movies, but ended up with aching hands for several days after that. I'm still not sure if it was the fault of the yarn/needle combination, or just too much knitting in general (I was knitting like crazy this fall, getting Christmas gifts done). I also don't have an intended recipient, so these are pretty low on the priority list. Also, I think they're horribly ugly, so that's another point against it.
But, hey, I'm not a complete slacker. I finished my Koolhaas hat last night!*
One down, fifteen to go.
*And thus, my ability to knit cute hats continues, as does my inability to look good wearing them. Sigh.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
First off...what the heck have I done so far? It's been since some time this past fall since I've had everything out and looked at it.
It's off to my "knitting office" to see where everything is...
Panic time. I found a couple of ziploc bags on the floor (because where else would I keep this stuff) with a couple of swatches, but that was it. When I looked up in dispair to shake my fist and curse, I noticed a binder on my shelf labled "Master Hand Knitting Level II." Guess what was inside? Swatches 1-10 and 14-16! How organized is that?
Swatches 11-13 are not in the binder. Those are the lace swatches, and possibly the thing that's given me the most fits in this level. I have several done (that's what I found in the ziploc bags), but I'm not sure which (if any) are going into the binder. I want to submit things sufficiently complicated, and yet I'm not a big fan of lace knitting, so I'm not sure what I'm trying to prove. This whole process is about me learning and stretching myself, but there gets to be a point where I snap if I stretch too far.
Swatches 17-20 are the buttonhole swatches. I have several of each, all stuffed in a ziploc bag and none tagged. I found my hand written notes from what I did on the last reknit, but I will have to study them to see which swatches actually correspond with the notes. (Have I mentioned lately that detail is not my forte?)
I have two versions of Swatch 21, which is the picked up stitches for the simulated neck, and I have a couple of inset pockets (Swatch 22). They all look better than they looked to me when I was working on them last fall, and I'm fighting the urge to knit that pocket one more time.
Mostly what's missing are the sheets that are to be included with most swatches that describe the technique used, plus references. I somehow missed that instruction when I first knit everything, because I treated the swatch instructions as all about knitting, and the questions as being the related written work. I remember now ripping out all the seams in my swatches last fall to see what I had done when I had knit them the year before, because I couldn't remember.
- Figure out which buttonhole swatches are the ones I will submit.
- Make sure I have sheets in each of the swatch sheet protectors that have to identify the technique used for that swatch.
- Figure out if I am going to submit any of the existing lace swatches, and then select the patterns to be used for any swatches that still need to be knit.
- Select which of the Swatch 21 and 22 choices I will use
I have all 19 questions done, with the exception of #13, but that one is in rough draft.
Action: Finish answering question #13
I have 2 book reviews done, with a 3rd started. There need to be 4 altogether.
- Finish 3rd Review
- Write 4th Review
I have none of the history report done, although I've done plenty of reading. Which I will need to read again, because I didn't take notes. I'm not sure what I want to focus on in my report.
- Figure out focus of report
- Write the report
I have 2 of 1 argyle sock done. I actually wove in the ends and blocked the second one. There is one weird seamed stitch on one of the gussets that I have determined is due to me ripping back the gusset at some point, and then not getting the selvage stitch back on the needle correctly, so that when I seamed (using a 1/2 st on each side), it looks strange. The only way to fix it would be to rip the entire foot back to that point. I would rather acknowledge and explain the peculiarity in my notes. I can't imagine the sock would fail on that basis. There are plenty other worse things they could say about it.
I have 1 of 1 vest done (and beautifully so, I must say). I'm so proud of the vest. Provided I submit in time and get it back in time, I plan to enter it in the State Fair this year.
I have 2.5 of 1 Fair Isle mitten done. None to my satisfaction. I couldn't find any of them this afternoon. I did find two boxes full of yarn in the upstairs room I'm trying to pretend is a knitting office. I sorted through that tangled mess, which will soon go down to the basement craft room.
(Hey --I just got my YarnOver registration confirmation from the Minnesota Knitters' Guild in the mail today, and I'm taking Sally Melville's Two Colors, Two Hands class in the morning. Score! Of course, I'm hoping to have the binder sent off by then, but in the event the judges scorn my Fair Isle mitten, I will have new skilz to impress the judges when I resubmit. The other class is Joan Schrouder's Entry Level Entrelac, which I will need for Level III. Because I will finish Level II very soon.)
- Find partially completed 3rd Fair Isle Mitten
- Finish 3rd Fair Isle Mitten
- Stop angsting about the Fair Isle Mitten
To be clear, those action items are all the things that have to be done, as near as I can tell. I'm not going anywhere near the "proof read all tags" aspect until I get all that other stuff done. I'm too easily distracted and overwhelmed by thinking about that kind of detail before it's time to do so.
Photos would probably help here, wouldn't they? I will add later, if I remember. I have to make dinner now...
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
So in an attempt to make it up to one of those students, I'm posting a slightly modified version of handout for the Outline Stitch Bind off, also known as the "Casting-On/Cast Off."
The edge of a long tail cast on is made up of a series of backwards loops that resemble cursive letter e's strung together.
The Outline Stitch bind off is a type of sewn bind off that matches the long tail cast on. If you're knitting a scarf, or other item that has both the cast on and bind off edges exposed, it's a nice technique to have. (Note: when I say this is a "type" of sewn bind off, I mean just that. It's not the bind off known as "the" sewn bind off, which produces a different edge. Incidentally, the tubular bind off is also a type of sewn bind off.)
The bottom set of blue loops represents the backwards loop portion of the long tail cast on (the part created from the long tail hanging over your thumb). The "heads" of those loops wrap around the base of the stitches above them. At the top of the drawing is the path of the Outline Stitch bind off, which (if you turn the picture upside down) wraps around the base of those stitches. In truth, the loops wrap around one leg of one stitch and one leg of the stitch next to it, so (as with grafting pieces together that were knit in opposite directions), the bind off is actually a 1/2 stitch off from the cast on.
Here's how to do it:
Work the last RS row of your fabric (assuming the smooth side of the cast on is the RS). Keep the side just worked facing you.
Cut a length of yarn 3 times the width of the area to be bound off.
Thread the yarn through a tapestry or darning needle.
Hold the yarn above the knitting needle. Insert the darning needle down through the center of the 2nd stitch ...
..and up through the center of the 1st stitch.
Let the 1st stitch come off the needle.
Repeat across the row, inserting down through the center of the 2nd stitch and up through the center of the 1st stitch, then letting the 1st stitch come off the needle.
Make sure you hold the yarn up above the knitting needle and out of the way of the threaded needle that's being pulled through the loops. You don't want to pull that threaded needle through the big loop of yarn, the way it's shown in the photo below.
If you're just the teensiest brave and you can see your stitch orientation, you can pull the knitting needle right out and sew directly into the loops.
If it looks sloppy when you're finished...
...tighten up the loops, starting at the left edge and pulling gently on each loop.
>Does it really match the cast on edge?Depends on which side you look at
Garter and Seed Stitch
Not so great from the “smooth side” of the cast on/bind off, as the top row is knits, interrupting the continuity of the stitch pattern.
From the back side, garter looks good
and seed stitch isn't bad, either
Stockinette looks great on both sides
And ribbing looks pretty good.
That's all for now -- I have to eat and then head over to the yarn shop!
Monday, February 09, 2009
I started this blog a few years ago so that I could keep track of my projects. I'd been knitting for 20 years and had almost no photographic evidence of the hundreds of items I'd knit. The blog was a big help to me in keeping track of what I was working on, but I was never a prolific blogger, and there were plenty of projects that never got documented. Then Ravelry came along, and my whole world changed. It's easier for me to track my projects as complete units, keep notes I can refer back to, but I also love the Techniques forum, where I get to share what I know about knitting with people who want to hear what I have to say.
In the meantime, the blog has suffered. That's about to change, because now I have a way to use my blog differently than I have in the past, but also in a way that is different from what Ravelry does for me.
I'm going to try to blog three times a week. On Mondays, I'm going to do show and tell on my projects in progress. Wednesdays are going to be Master Knitting Wednesday, at least until I finish Level II, because I'm close to the end, but I have some loose ends to finish up (and some writing), and I just want the thing done with. Early April will mark 2 years since I began, and I'd like to finish before then. On Fridays, I'm going to try video blogging, demonstrating various knitting tricks and tips. I have some ideas about how to make knitting videos different than they usually are. Hopefully, they'll be interesting and informative, too.
So here's what I'm working on at the moment:
Koolhaas Hat, in Mission Falls 1824 wool, color 029 (it's a nice raspberry red).
It's been a year or so since I've knit any 1x1 cables, and these are mostly a ktbl over a purl, so it took me a round of doing that with a cable needle to realize I would never last through the entire hat if I didn't remind myself of how to cable without a cable needle. (Hey, maybe that will be my first Friday video tip!) Next time I take a photo, it will be better. Can you see the purple Magic Loop cable in my hair, and the needles stitcking out of the back of my head?
Next up is the Garter Stitch Blanket from Elizabeth Zimmermann's The Opinionated Knitter. I started this monster at the end of December, and finished the knitting in just a couple weeks. I used two strands of Great Wool bulky from my knitting buddy, Julie, who has a sheep farm up in Sauk Centre. Her sheep are Rambouillet ("French merino"), and I have to agree they produce "great wool." The yarn has a wonderful springiness to it that makes it fun to knit.
This weekend I seamed the pieces together. I had some help
Sometimes, I had too much help.
It's hard to seam when the dog is lying on your crochet hook. At about 1/2" thick, this is one comfy spot to sleep.
Here's the whole thing seamed, but without ends woven in.
I still need to work attached i-cord around the circumference, then wash and block the thing, as it's a bit rippled. It weighs about 5 pounds at this point, so it's not a portable project.
I think I will love this blanket for its warmth and cushiness. I liked the puzzle piece aspect of this afghan, but I wasn't crazy about EZ's instructions. While I wholeheartedly endorse her efforts to teach knitters to think, she doesn't always do a good job explaining what *she* was thinking when she used a certain design element, which I think is important when the design is so unusual. I love to think for myself, and substitute design elements, but the reason for some of her design choices weren't clear to me even after I swatched alternatives, so I made some changes, and then later realized what she was thinking, and why.
The biggest problem was the matter of the selvages. EZ suggests slipping the first stitch of every row and purling the last stitch in order to give the edge a nice chain effect. This works if you slip knitwise, which is a common, but not obvious choice for selvages. Her method of seaming these edges didn't appeal to me when I tried it on a swatch, and since I've had some experience seaming garter stitch edges flat with a nice result, I decided to do that. It wasn't until later, when I realized I would be seaming cast on and bind off edges to side edges, not just edges to edges, that I realized my potential mistake. EZ's method would provide a 1:1 chain match up for seaming, whereas I had some ridged edges and some chained edges. On the other hand, I still didn't like her method of seaming, so I pushed on, deciding this was a freaking afghan for the basement, not an heirloom, so I would figure out the seaming later. I searched around Ravelry, and saw brooklyntweed/Jared Flood's method of single crocheting the seams and decided to try that. I used one strand of the bulky for the seams, and tried a few ways to seam: by incorporating both legs of both edge stitches in the seam, just one leg of each edge, and finally, one leg of a garter stitch edge with both loops of a bind off chain.
In the end, I chose to seam only one leg of any given garter stitch edge to another edge. When the other edge was a cast off chain, however, I did use both legs of the chain. If I used just one leg of the cast off chain, the other leg was obvious on the reverse side, which wasn't true of the garter stitch edge.
But wait, there's more
Before I crocheted the seams on the afghan, I decided to become better at crocheting. I tried to learn last summer, but I chose the wrong project (and wrong yarn) to start with, and gave up. This time, I worked through learning all the basic stitches: slip stitch, single crochet, half double, double, triple, and double triple. I'm using Crocheting for Dummies as my reference. I find it speaks to me in exactly the way I like, particularly as someone who is starting from absolutely no background in crochet. Every question I have is answered and explained thoroughly.
So here's my crochet project: a stash busting afghan
I'm using worsted yarn from my stash (I got some help from Nina to make sure the colors I chose worked together), and most evenings I do a row or two before bed. Since I learned to crochet, I've been studying the crocheted acrylic ripple afghan my paternal grandmother made that I've had since high school. The ripple pattern is slightly different than the one I'm using, so I had fun figuring out how she did hers. In the process, I realized Granny didn't crochet "correctly." She crocheted every row by going through the chain (just like you have to on the first row) , rather than under both loops of the chain. It's still good work, but it took me a while to figure out why my double crochet didn't look quite the same as Granny's. I kept thinking I must be doing something wrong!
There's one more project on my needles at the moment, a sock in a merino/cashmere/nylon yarn, but I seem to have misplaced it. I thought it was a nice contrast at 9 sts/in to the 2 sts/in garter stitch bohemoth. Must locate.
That's all for now. See you Wednesday for my Master Knitting update!