knitting

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I knit this cardigan last summer for publication; I planned to submit it to Knitty, but never got it together:

I haven’t worn it really, but it is lovely – perhaps this week.  It is knit from Rowan Wool Cotton, which is a wonderful yarn.  I used to want to knit with yarns that mix a lot of colour and texture — yarn this is on the continuum approaching novelty yarn, but not as far as eyelash.  Now I find that I want to knit with smooth yarns that hold texture well — like Classic Elite Classic One Fifty.  They just seem more wearable, which is ironic as I haven’t worn this one yet — part of this is that it is cropped and I haven’t been sure what to wear it with.

I think that the answer is a blouse — form fitting t-shirts underneath somehow feel a bit wrong with so ladylike a sweater.

I am actually knitting a sweater in Classic One Fifty right now that I have been too lazy to photograph and post about, but perhaps next week.

I have not been as idle as you may think I have been since I last wrote.  First things first – I finished these mittens (knit using Mari Muinonen’s pattern Yellow Harvest Mittens from Vogue Knitting, Fall 2008):

And got help taking a picture of them, which was more touch and go.

I also got a new job, which has kept me quite busy, but now it really is mine, rather than just having me acting in it, and it is with the same organization, which avoids me looking flighty.  Or more flighty than usual – anyone with more knitting projects on the go than she can count has to have some amount of flightiness about them, but I would rather not broadcast it on my resume.

Spring has more or less sprung, and I got to tell someone new to the province that it would likely snow again, which didn’t impress her at all, but I got to pretend I was old and wise and all that.

I hope you are all doing well, and hopefully I will get pictures taken soon to show you the sweater I have completed.  With the mittens, it completes two projects finished since the new year, which justifies me starting a new one, but now I plan to finish two more, so I am completely in the clear first.  It is a good thing to finish things, but it does make me a little bored.

Well you may have not believed me when I said it (I may have been too sheepish to actually tell you, but I am now too lazy to check), but I have in fact decided to finish two projects for every one I start for a while, so that I can reduce the shameful number of unfinished objects in my knitting basket.  That is a little lie right there – they don’t fit in my knitting basket and haven’t for some time. They are in my knitting basket, in bags in the closet, in bags next to the chair at the foot of my bed, in plastic totes, and box shaped baskets beside my desk.

Yes, it may be getting out of hand.  But I just like starting projects so much more than I like finishing them.  There is so much thrill and potential in a new project.  You can go out and buy yarn (I cringe to say it), fuss around about the pattern (either deciding to buy one or write one), pull out the perfect set of needles (my needle resources are much diminished by being all over the house with half knit projects on them instead of in the vases on my desk so I can use them), cast on, then drop the whole thing for something else.  I am not talking about changing my mind and ripping out the knitting and starting something new – that is a decision, but just dropping what I am doing and starting something else.  This goes on to such a degree that I have actually needed to buy needles lately – I should never need to buy needles again unless I sit on them or something like that.

So I am finishing two projects for every one I start.  I finished the first one already, it is mittens with photos to come.  What to do next was more difficult to decide, but finally my gaze fell on this one:

I started this project in approximately November 2008 – the blog gives me away.

I started working on it again yesterday, and after experiencing the inevitable negative emotions that throwing a bunch of what is essentially string in not very secure bunches in a bag and leaving it there for over a year, but periodically pulling it out, looking at it, and putting it back, give rise to:

I have worked the front and back to the shoulder shaping, and have run into a little problem arising from not actually figuring out how the sweater would end before I started, and I am not sure I can make the stitch repeat work for the sleeves, i.e. I think they will need to either be too wide or too narrow.

I have however, come up with a brilliant, if somewhat nefarious plot — I may make it a sleeveless sweater.  I plan to finish it this weekend, and I already know what the next project I start will be.

The preview of Yarn Forward issue 23, including my entrelac gloves was posted today:

I hope you enjoy the pattern.  I know I enjoyed knitting the one and a half gloves I have knit from the pattern so far.  The samples were knit by Jenny, and they were knit using Noro Silk Garden Sock.

Classic Elite Yarns has released their new pattern line for summer 2010, including my Feather and Fan Cardi (see the Classic Elite Yarns website and Ravelry page):

I hope you like it — I know I enjoyed knitting it, and happily I made myself one very like it too.  I will post pictures of it when I can get some taken.

The new issue of Knitty is up here, along with my Four Corners in Tokyo:

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I know I am a bit late, but I was out of town yesterday.

The sample was knit my Jenny of Spinning Jenny.  If you would like to see how the sample fits with different amounts of ease you can check out her wearing it here.  This was the first pattern that I worked with a sample knitter on directly, and it went so well.  It’s funny when you start doing your hobby professionally – I never thought I would outsource my knitting, but there you go.

While on the road I spent a fair amount of time knitting in bed (there never seems to be a good place to sit in hotel rooms):

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And I finished my socks, but I think I need to do more socks to get the grafting at the end of the toes right.  It just didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to — it has nubby bits on each side of the grafting:

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I can graft quite well when the two sides can butt up against each other flat, but having to do it when the sides were laid on top if each other stymied me a bit.  I will wash them — that first wash takes our all sorts of knitting ills.

Oh well, if I were got at everything when I first tried it life would probably be less rewarding, and I would be less modest, which would most likely do me no good at all.

I would like to try it out for a month or so though.

On knitting socks

I am almost finished my second sock.  The sock knitting is proceeding at an acceptable speed, but I am having a few hitches.  After completing the knitting on one of the socks and knitting to the end of the heel flap, I realized that I had completely misread the stitch pattern and had to rip out and reknit the first sock back to the heel shaping.

This is not good, because I did a similar thing on the last project I did from someone else’s pattern and had to rip that out too.  I think I may be getting over-confident and need to regain some humility — humility is not really my strong suit, especially where knitting is concerned.  I just figure I will figure it out and you can always rip it out and start again anyway (just don’t try this attitude with mohair).

That is really just a minor upset and a potential outcome of knitting ahead without reading through the whole pattern first — I run into the same problem with cooking and am used to dealing with it.  If I minded it that much, I would change.

The real problem was that I wanted to carry my smaller purse and threw my socks and needles in my pocket.  This was fine on the trip out, and I had a lovely time knitting in the coffee shop, but there was more of a problem coming back because I mustn’t have been careful enough putting on my seat belt and three needles broke in my pocket, so I haven’t been able to knit for the rest of the weekend.

I don’t think I will buy any fine needles in wood again.  I have been knitting with bamboo for years and never had one break or split, and my first set of wood needles broke on my first pair of socks.  The breakage was, I will admit, my fault, but one of them splintered a bit on the side before that, and that I don’t think I deserved.

My newest family member

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On second thought I have two new family members: my uncle has recently had a baby and my sister recently got married.  It’s good to have more family.  Strictly speaking my brother-in-law is the newer family member, but I am not breaking my no hand knitted presents rule for him (as happy as I am to have him), no it is my baby cousin who makes the grade.

I realize that babies are almost fictional beings to me — I have no idea of how big they are, what they do, or what they like.  The main thing that I remember from my babysitting training is that they don’t like being stuck with diaper pins, even if it is by accident, and it is always better to put the baby down than shake it.  So you see, though those points, I am sure, are quite valid, my knowledge is somewhat limited.

I requested a book from the library (The Expectant Knitter: 30 Designs for Baby and Your Growing Family by Marie Connolly) I went to the yarn store and asked about it.  Apparently, you should never knit the newborn size and babies don’t like holey things because their fingers get caught in them — I can see that could be frustrating.  Here is the beginning of the project I came up with:

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It is the “cashmere romper” (Ravelry link), but I am knitting it in machine washable cotton.  I don’t think the parents will want to hand wash cashmere and I think the baby will like cotton — I know I do.

I have to say that I am almost ready to knit myself a cotton romper and not care if it looks silly.  I used to have one when I was a teenager and wore it all the time.  I was remarkably odd, but I loved it.  I wish I had kept it, then I could cut it apart and create a new one — but it is probably just as well I didn’t.

I feel like I have been knitting feather and fan all summer (which I kind of have been doing):

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I am really enjoying exploring the possibilities of the pattern.  I will give you more details about the projects later.

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I am also over the moon because I have received my very first acceptence for a crochet pattern.  In life I think it really doesn’t get much better than that.

I am knitting up a storm on projects I can’t share, so I thought I would share a few projects I have made over the years instead.

First example (Ravelry project link):

bluelacesweater

This was about the fourth sweater I ever knit.  The pattern is by Adrienne Vittadini and was published in Vogue Knitting, Holiday 2003 (Ravelry link here).

The sample was knit in a lovely soft wool, alpaca, mohair blend, but I made mine in a cotton, linen blend, as I wanted a summer sweater.  I think the lace pattern read better in the softer yarn, and I was a little overly ambitious.  There is one glaring mistake in the lace, but overall I was and am happy with it.

Knitting In the Sun: 32 Projects for Warm Weather by Kristi Porter is being profiled in this week’s Berroco Knitbits newsletter, including a picture of my Tofino:

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They have also included a free version of the Windandsea Sun Hat by Kristi Porter:

One of the questions that often arises for me is how to make the best use of handspun, bulky, and novelty yarns

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These yarns are often expensive, detailed, and bulky, and there is often not enough to make anything of any great size. I want to make something with these yarns, large enough to be useful, and that shows the artistry in their making.

I find that many crafters approach knitting from the perspective of a spinner or approach spinning from the perspective of a knitter. I think spinners who come to knitting often want ways to use their handspun yarns and want to knit something very simple, which makes sense when using many novelty yarns, but the detail of the yarns can get lost in the stitches.

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Knitters who come to spinning often want simple yarns in fabulous colours and fibres to use for more knitting focussed projects.

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I have tried both, and both have appeal, but I would like to propose a third way – there are techniques and styles and projects that can make use of beautiful handspun yarns of every description and show them to advantage, and here I must confess that many of my ideas in this area are heavily influenced by Debbie New.

I bought both these yarns from Milkyrobot’s Etsy Store

Girls Throw Snow (40 yards / 36.5m):

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And Earthworm (46 Yards / 42m):

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When they arrived I was really unsure about what to do with them. I was worried that they were too intricate to show all their detail and too short to make much if knit by themselves. Every centimetre of these yarns is beautiful, and I would hate to hide whole sections of them behind cables or on the back side of something.

For the Girls Throw Snow yarn I mixed it with some grey fingering yarn I had lying around that matched one of the accent colours, and knit it in an irregular version of Debbie New’s squiggle lace using large needles (pattern):

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For the Earthworm yarn I wanted to make things more interesting and combined several yarns:

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In a long strip:

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That I crocheted together into a scarf at the end using Debbie New’s labyrinth knitting technique (Ravelry link):

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I especially like the way the mohair lace weight makes transparent sections.

These projects show these yarns as I wanted them to be shown and have enough knitterly interest to keep mine.

I could probably be induced to produce a pattern for the Earthworm scarf too, if enough of you leave comments on my blog here.

I have invited Shawn O’Hagan of Island Sweet (blog, Etsy shop) to tell us about her fibre art.  I enjoy her yarns and knitting so much, and I thought that it would be great to ask her a little abut her process:

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Can you please tell me a bit about yourself?

I was a painter for 30 years. I have a Masters Degree in Painting. 10 years ago I decided I didn’t want to paint anymore. I no longer enjoyed the “art scene”. I felt I had nothing left that I wanted to paint. In the summer of 2000 I did an artist residency in Terra Nova National Park in Newfoundland, Canada (where I live), and took only fabric and thread and needles. I began making “fabric collages” – just playing with colour and texture. I wanted to make things that people could use – not just hang on their walls, so my collages became pillow covers and quilts. A few years later I picked up a rug hooking kit and began rug hooking with a passion.

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How long have you been working with fibre, what induced you to start and what craft did you start with?

I have always been a knitter. I was selling my knitwear (mostly hats and baby clothes) in shops and through the Craft Council. 2 years ago I was in New York City, and at PurlSoho, I picked up a skein of yarn from “Ozark Handspun“. I didn’t know that this kind of yarn existed! I knew immediately that I wanted to knit with that kind of yarn but couldn’t afford to buy it, knit it, then sell the product for a profit. So I needed to learn how to spin.

I am especially inspired by your spinning: can you give me some idea of your creative process?

I began spinning with a drop spindle in January 2008. I used this (along with hand carders) for 6 months. I used this early spun yarn for accent in my handknit scarves. In May I purchased a wheel (the Ashford Kiwi). In June I went to the Spinner’s Loft in Nova Scotia and took a wonderful 5 day workshop on the basics of spinning (I wanted to learn how to do it right, and then make it my own…) and in Oct I got a second hand Louet drum carder. By then was I confident enough about my yarn, and spinning in large enough quantity, to begin selling it.

Do you work from the fibre to your idea or from your idea to the fibre?

Sometimes I start a skein of yarn with an external inspiration – for example – a flower in my garden. Or a work of art (I still draw on my art background). Or a colour combination I see in a dress in a fashion magazine. I keep a sketchbook for ideas – colour combinations, titles etc.

Sometimes I just choose colours almost randomly and after the skein is finished I decide what it reminds me of. Often one skein of yarn leads right into another with just a slight variation.

Where do you find your fibre and how much of the processing do you do yourself (dying, carding, etc.)? What do you look for in fibre for your work?

I buy most of my fibre undyed from Louet in Ontario. I use it in its natural state – white, grey, cream, brown, black. For colour I use natural plant dyes. I use what is around me – dandelions, lily of the valley leaves, goldenrod. Or I buy natural plant dyes in powder form from Maiwa in Vancouver. I have just purchased their Cipa dyes (they are acid dyes but with fewer chemicals in them) in order to get brighter colours. I buy colourful roving from other etsy spinners. I use all types of fibre – wool – shetland and blue faced leicester are my favourite. Mohair fibre locks for texture. Plant fibres such as bamboo and hemp. Soysilk is my all time favourite. I add angelina or firestar often for a little glitter.

Can you give me more information about your spinning technique? Do you spin from batts or roving? Do you bring in locks and other materials as you spin or do you incorporate everything you will include in the yarn when you process your fibre in preparation for spinning?

I lay down a “base” colour (usually with shetland or blue faced leicester). Then I start adding more fibres for colour and texture. I then run it all through the carder one or two times depending on how much blending I want at the end. I may add more fibre locks to the batt as I am spinning so the locks will stand out even more.

What kind of spinning equipment do you use? Is there anything you want, but don’t have yet or that you have, but feel wasn’t worth the money?

I’m happy with my wheel and equipment. I’d love to have another wheel that is more portable (like the ashford “joy”). I take my wheel to craft shows and markets, and to the cabin, so more portability would be great. But a second wheel will have to wait…

I always want to make wonderful singles like some of your yarns like this one:

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But I always end up with the single being too over spun to use that way — do you have any advice on how to fix that problem?

I almost only spin singles. Plying is too regular for me. It somehow feels that it encases the yarn, binds it up, and doesn’t allow it to breathe. To avoid over spinning I think just play with the tension.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start spinning and is inspired by your yarns?

If you want to start spinning – start with a spindle. It’s easy and cheap (I bought mine on etsy for $12.00). You learn the “feel” of the yarn. You get used to drafting. You’ll know soon enough if you want to get deeper into it. And don’t aim for perfection if that’s not the look that you want.

Your knitting is also lovely.  I enjoy your style of knitting, but I have trouble taking the full plunge into being as freeform as your work is:

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Do you have any advice on how to overcome timidity in relation to colour and how to loosen up?

I sell my knitwear. Because of this, the pattern can’t be too complicated because it would take too long to knit and I wouldn’t be able to make any money. I’ve simplified all my patterns to very basic shapes (for example, my baby pullover is basically 4 rectangles – 2 large and 2 small). The interest lies in the yarn. Be brave with your colour choices. Keep an eye out for what colour combinations are exciting to you and make note of them.

Finally I have a mundane question that always fascinates: do you make a living from your fibre art? How close are you to it? Is it a goal for you?

And yes – I basically make a living from my fibre. I teach 1 art course in the winter term at the local university but aside from that, it’s all fibre. I live in Newfoundland where it’s easier to live simply and cheaply. I sell my yarn and knitwear on etsy ( I sell in craft shops and at craft fairs [such as the Toronto One of a Kind]). I work hard. Being self-employed, and working with fibre, it’s rare for me not to have fibre in my hands from 8:00 in the morning to 11:00 at night. I’m trying this summer to cut back…

I recently got rid of one of the first sweaters I ever knit.  I loved that sweater and wore it all the time.  I was the asymmetrical cardigan by Norah Gaughan published in the holiday 2004 issue of Vogue Knitting (Ravelry link, unfortunately there is no photo).

It is knit by casting on the stitches for one side of the front, then knitting over the shoulder for the sleeve and down the back.  Then the stitches for the other sleeve are cast on and the sides are knit horizontally.  The two pieces are then sewn together and the stitches for the ribbing are picked up and knit.

It really is a brilliant design, and I loved the sweater, but I was not as good a knitter as I am now.  I think it was the third sweater I ever knit, and there are some issues with it (sorry about the quality of the photo):

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Yes, the right sleeve is about 5 inches (13cm) longer than the left — hmm.

I didn’t know then, as I do now, that knitting stretches a lot more long the stitches than the rows.  I followed the pattern, but sometimes that isn’t enough: sometimes you need to understand what is happening.

I didn’t get quite the results I dreamt of, but I still loved the sweater, and why would I want to go through life without experimenting?

I may have made this confession before here, as it is something I dwell on, but it still kind of astonishes me — I have never knit a pair of socks.

I have approached it, but never actually crossed that line in the yarn to knitting a pair of honest to goodness socks.  I knit a pair of slipper-socks once —Padded Footlets by Mary Snyder from Interweave Knits summer 2005 (no back issues available from Interweave) and Favorite Socks: 25 Timeless Designs from Interweave.

I gave the finished socks to my mother, so they are not available to photograph, but here is the picture from Interweave/Ravelry:

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Mine are similar in colour, but I knit them using Sisu.  This is a lovely pattern, though I didn’t enjoy knitting the padded sole, I can see that it is an inherently good idea.  Sometimes when I visit my Mum lets me borrow them, and I kind of wish I had kept them.

But a real pair of socks never.

I guess I haven’t really understood the logic in knitting something that will get hidden in shoes.  I also am not in general a cold footed person.  I do however, really want to knit hosiery on my knitting machine.  That will almost be the most exciting thing ever (well, the most exciting knitting related thing), if I can ever get the thing to consistently work for me.  I like really short socks and socks at least long enough to come up to my knees — sock patterns are predominantly designed to come to mid calf.  This of course is a stupid observation because I design knitting patterns and could make whatever socks I want, whatever length I want, but I always come back to sweaters.

There are other things I have never knit — shrugs, blankets, pants, skirts, bags, pillows.  I guess I just like knitting sweaters and gloves.

These however:

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Would really be worth cracking out the needles for.  They are by Mari Muinonen and published in the current issue of Vogue Knitting (spring/summer 2009), Ravelry link here.  I think I would make them a little longer and substitute a lace wieght yarn in a dark colour, like this.

A parting picture to muse on:

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Knitting In the Sun: 32 Projects for Warm Weather by Kristi Porter will be released this weekend:

Excitingly, it includes my pattern “Tofino” (Ravelry link here)

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I can’t wait to see the sample in Berroco Bonsai professionally photographed. My copy of the book should get here soon.

Here is my Sideways Grande Cloche by Laura Irwin (Ravelry link here):

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This is a lovely pattern from Boutique Knits: 20+ Must-Have Accessories. I had a good time knitting it, but I did not quite beat the end of winter — which I will certainly not complain about.

It has one of the main criteria for a winter hat in Saskatchewan — good forehead coverage.

I have finally gotten my knitting machine “working,” well a bit better than I did last time.

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This is some lovely silk/alpaca in lace weight from Princess Farms. I wanted to make a shawl in plain stockinette — you would think that this would not be so difficult for one familiar with the ways of the fibre, such was myself (or perhaps more to the point, I would think that), but the machine had different plans:

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Yes, that is a big hole in my beautiful shawl. I waxed the yarn and everything, and now I have a huge hole (and a couple little ones). I also ran out of yarn before I bound off, so I tried my trick from before of making the knitting jump right off the machine by running the carriage over the needles without any yarn in it.

That part definately worked — I am glad that hand knitting isn’t so enthusiastic about jumping off the needles like that.

I will crochet the ends and the holes closed. In my mind, this will make a lovely rustic type garment, which I will then sew or crochet into a tube to wear around my shoulders like Teva Durham’s fade-out ribbed stole in Loop-D-Loop: More Than 40 Novel Designs for Knitters, because I think I would like that and what else will I do with it?

The Interweave knits previews are out (here). I am always so happy when the new issue of IK is released — it just means a new chance to fantasize about everything.

I am most smitten with the Diminishing Rib Cardigan by Andrea Pomerantz, the Soap Bubble Wrap by Connie Chang Chinchio, and the Zickzack Tunic by Melissa Wehrle. One of the most wonderful things about Ravelry (though I suppose Google would also work, if you want to point out the reasonably obvious) is that I can turn around the find the websites for the designers.

Connie Change Chinchio blogs at Physicsknits. She appears to have lovely discussions about her design process. I better add it to my reading list — there, done.

Melissa Wehrle blogs at neoknits — also getting added to my list. If I had time at all to knit all the patterns I own that I want to knit and all the things I have in my list of my own ideas of what I want to knit, I would knit Melissa’s Granny Smith Cardigan in a flash — there really is something special in my mind about a mohair cardi.

I can’t find a website for Andrea Pomerantz, but if anyone can send me the info I would be happy to post it.

On my own design front, I have completely written the pattern for my next submission to Knitty, and the deadline is weeks away. This must mean that I have turned a new leaf and will no longer live with procrastination but do everything in advance and live in a calm _____ (the only word that comes to mind is miasma, but that is bad).

Oh well, it was not likely to happen anyway.

I started knitting the Sideways grande hat from Laura Irwin’s Boutique Knits this week:

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I am using a couple skeins of Berocco Ultra Alpaca (non-Ravelry link) I had in my stash. It is a nice relaxing project that doesn’t require any math on my part more strenuous than counting.

There are some good things about living somewhere with a wintery climate and some things that are just things — one of the things is that you can definately start a winter hat in January and still have time to wear it before it gets warm.

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I feel like I am coming out of some knitting doldrums, and since all of my projects seemed hard last week I pulled out a bit of hand painted mohair of questionable provenance. It was sold to me on E-Bay as Colinette. Really I have no reason to disbelieve it as it came in a lot with other more identifiable skeins, but it came pre-wound without tags, so the colourway’s name etc. eludes me.

I am knitting — wait for it — a stockinette stitch scarf, but the colours are pretty:

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The colours remind of Stravinsky‘s The Firebird (I grew up in a household aware of ballet above many other, perhaps more sensible, things). Here is a painting by Léon Bakst to give you an idea:

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I feel such nostalgia for the early 20th Century avant garde; it always appeals to me. In this particular example, I especially like the tuft of armpit hair.

I always like the the avant garde from the 19th Century too — especially Chopin. That may come back to ballet again and spending hours each week through my childhood in a room with someone playing music on a piano: Chopin featured heavily.

I have been thinking about the premise of Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell and his assertion that for people to really achieve success, they (usually) need to practice for 10,000 hours before they are really good at something. The idea that one needs to practice something for so long to master it has an element of appeal to me. I goes against the idea I feel is prevalent in society (whoever society is) that one can learn something very quickly.

People are not immediately good at sports they have never heard of whatever the Harry Potter series would have you believe.

I listened to an interview with Malcolm Gladwell, and I was thinking about this. I don’t think I have spent that amount of time on much — reading, walking, and eating maybe. I claim to be very good at reading, moderately good at walking (which I like a lot), and enthusiastic about eating, though I am not sure how one becomes good at it.

The point of all this blather is that I think I may approach the 10,000 hour mark with knitting. I remember staring at the pattern for my first sweater for hours, trying to figure it out. I also remember trecking out to the yarn store swatch in hand to ask if it really mattered that I was about two stitches to four inches out in my gauge (for any of you who ever have this questions — yes, it really does).

Now I can pick up yarn and envision it in my head the things it could be, processing the way I want it to turn out. Yet I still wonder at the virtuosity of some designers: Norah Gaughan, Teva Durham, or Debbie New to name a few.

Hmm, more practice required.

Here I am stuck at home, kitchen pipes frozen, car not starting, looking out into the world reflected back at me from the Internet. I am filled with awe that I could wake up this morning to -39 centigrade (-38 Fahrenheit) temperatures and read about MK describing her cold as being like mango pollen stuffed up her nose. I used to live where mangoes grow; it feels very far away.

I went out and bought Boutique Knits by Laura Irwin today. I wasn’t planning on it, but it just has such lovely constructions, and I feel they would work for me. I am especially struck with the Sideways Grande Cloche. I also like the Side Slip Cloche, but I feel that the first one would look better on my particular head. Cloches are great for me as Saskatchewan requires extensive forehead coverage (please see previous paragraph).

Speaking of cloches and MK Carroll, MK has one of the most beautiful hat patterns I have ever seen, but I know my enormous head would deform it. I suppose I could resize it, but the patten is one where every stitch is in the right place, and I don’t want to ruin it. The Sideways Grande Cloche, looks like it could be made with room for my head and my hair and still look great — everyone has their issues.

Note: I failed to read the description of the pattern properly when I wrote this and would like to say that MK’s pattern is sized up to 27″, so if you have a large head, don’t be scared away!

Earlier this week I felt completely defeated — I was unable to bring myself to do anything but watch television while being firmly ensconced on the couch, but today — today I feel I can get back on the horse. The house is finally cleaner than it has been in months and things I like seem possible again.

I have managed to knit the whole front and back of my sweater using the lace pattern from the Gibson Girl pullover by Shirley Paden to the arm hole decreases without actually working out a pattern (please calm yourselves, I wasn’t planning on making the pattern public anyway), so I have two panels and have not given much thought to what I should do with them.

I did however, decide to deal with the original project that the yarn was intended for. In my project basket, like a biography of the Tudor monarchs, the first betrothal often does not go through, and my yarn is linked to several possible partners before the final outcome is clear. The original pattern was the Bubble Pullover by Nora Gaughan from Knitting Nature.

There was nothing wrong with the pattern or the sweater: I just fell more in love with my own idea for the yarn than I was with that one (though I look at the this version (non-Ravelry link) and wonder if I was mistaken — I may just be smitten with the idea of being slim, pretty and having a pixie hair-cut). However, the die is cast, I have never frogged a project that I have got as far with as my lacy Gibson Girl takeoff. I am somewhat impressed with the audacity of those on Ravelry who rip apart a project at the drop of a hat. I never have the nerve, but I ripped apart this project today:

As you can see I didn’t get very far with it in the first place.

Now I have some weird ramen noodle yarn to play with. I will aim to use it in a part of the sweater that won’t get too much wear as I find the yarn is never really the same after being knit and ripped apart again.

New year’s eve post

Well I confess that I have been having a vile week. I have a nasty cold, the weather is nippy, and all my current knitting projects are harder than I feel like dealing with right now.

I have made some headway on the eight petal rose sweater:

I was just starting to really get the hang of manipulating three balls in intarsia and suddenly the number exploded to seven, so now it is hard again.

However, I have reached the cool colours, which surely should count for something:

I have no great plans for bringing in the new year. My cold stymies any thoughts of general enjoyment, but I am considering my options in the resolution department. I am stuck on finding and following an exercise plan that works for me, but surely I can come up with something more original than that?

Here is a new and improved, tech-edited version of my Slouch Hat pattern.

There seems to have been a bit of confusion caused by the previous version, so hopefully this one will make sense to everyone.

There were no actual errata, but some of the short rows were altered slightly to make the knitting easier.

I started my eight petals rose sweater yesterday night, and here is is all tidy and giving a sense of calm serene intarsia working up as simply as anything:

Of course this impression is a complete fiction and my project looked like this by the end of the knitting last night:

I knit a little longer than I wanted to as I really wanted to get to the first design change. There is something satisfying about the moment when the design starts to show. The next exciting thing will be when the cool colours start balancing the design.

I came home yesterday to a parcel notice and rushed to the post office to pick it up, and my Icelandic yarn had arrived.

I love the ability to buy things from where ever I want on the Internet – it makes me feel so cosmopolitan.

Here is a picture of the yarn:

It is Ístex Loðband Einband, which is a wool lace weight with 225m to 50g, and I have never seen it in a yarn store. I got it from the Handknitting Association of Iceland.

I am very pleased with it. It is very woolly, if you are someone who doesn’t like animal fibres and thinks wool is itchy, then this yarn is not for you, but I like woolly clothes so that is not a problem. Actually it is not at all scratchy (to me), but it is not soft either. It is almost like spun crêpe paper. The closest yarn I can think of is Noro Kuryeon sock yarn, but this is quite a bit finer.

The impetus for this international yarn acquisition is this book I mentioned before:

Icelandic Knitting Using Rose Patterns by Hélène Magnússon.

I am going to knit this sweater:

I have been wanting an oversize sweater, and this just seems too lovely to pass up. It is going to be my first major project involving intarsia. I was just never so attracted to patterns that used it before.

I think this sweater is a very good example of a project where substituting yarns would greatly change the effect, and after listening to yarn store staff a couple times — I know that whatever yarn they carry in the same gauge is not always an acceptable substitute for me.

And see I am so committed I have already worked my swatch:

It is even the the right gauge on the first try (stitches and rows) — that never happens. I will cast on for the sweater today.

Here are a few more patterns that I still think about from Interweave:

Seaberry Shell by Wenlan Chia:

It was published in the summer 2006 issue. Unfortunately this one is not available anymore because the issue is sold out at Interweave, and this sweater is not in Knitting Daily. Here is the Ravelry link. The only change I would make would be to make it longer as I love everything to be hip or tunic length — otherwise it is perfect.

The next pattern is this one:

The Bonbon Pullover by Mary Lynn Patrick.

This one is available. It was published in the winter 2007 issue, which is available from Interweave (here), and from Knitting Daily (here). The Ravelry link is here. It is like a sweater that a movie star would wear only you could relax in it.

The next one is the Wedgewood Blouse by Nora Gaughan:

This one was also from the summer 2006 issue and is not available from the Knitting Daily store (Ravelry link), but it is a pity that it is not. Who but Nora Gaughan could so perfectly render paisley in knit texture? If anyone can direct me to anything as good or better, either of your own or someone else’s design, I would love to see it, as I love paisley (a fact I have managed to keep rather quiet until now).

That is all I will share for this post, but I may have a few patterns from Vogue Knitting I may want to draw your attention to next, while I have all the magazines taking up a whole chair to themselves in the dining room.

I was looking through my knitting magazines the other day for ideas for projects, and I realized is a great number of them:

I was thinking about the patterns I always come back to thinking about after years and thought maybe I would share a few, so here is the first one: Fair Isle Hoodie and Cardigan by Annie Modesitt from Interweave Knits Fall 2005 (also available from Knitting Daily).

According to the blurb she designed the sweaters for her children who modeled the sweaters in the magazine, and really I can’t imagine better colours for them.

This is a pattern that I think would be a mistake to substitute yarn for, unless you wanted a completely different look, as I don’t think you could ever match it.

The patterns as designed are just brilliant.

There are more to come over the next little while:

Update

I am not ignoring you. I am just not knitting much I can post about now, but I have several ideas in the percolation through to the materialization phases, which I can’t share yet.

I am also still working on this sweater:

It still looks remarkably like it did when I last took pictures as I have unraveled the waist shaping twice.

I am looking forward to it though, it is wonderfully squidgy.

Upside of a downturn

I just purchased this book: Icelandic Knitting Using Rose Patterns by Hélène Magnússon.

It is beautiful and the designs aren’t like any I have seen before. I am completely smitten with it.

The book lists the Handknitting Association of Iceland as a source for the yarn used in the book. The really great thing is that the Icelandic currency is so low that I just ordered enough yarn for a large sweater for a very cheap price, and a year ago it would have cost me twice as much. They were a pleasure to do business with, answered all my questions, and they even take PayPal.

The Icelandic people must be having a hard time of it (see here), and surely stimulating the economy by buying yarn is practically the least we can do to help knitters, sheep farmers, etc. half way around the world?

The yarn looks lovely, but of course it is practically impossible to know what it will be like until I fondle it. I have taken my leap of faith and will have to see how it turns out.

I just heard that Knitting in the Sun by Kristi Porter is available for pre-sale on Amazon (here).

This is the book that I have a pattern coming out in. If you go down to the description, mine is the “top-down shaped t-shirt.”

This is so exciting.

What with the season changing and the weather getting cold this weekend, I have been in a bit of a rut with my knitting, but I have pulled some yarn out of my stash (ah, the joys of a well stocked stash — you must take the good with the bad you know) and have started whipping up something this week.

I have been thinking about the stitch pattern on this sweater (The Gibson Girl Pullover by Shirley Paden: Knitting Daily link, Ravelry link) since it was published in the summer 2004 Interweave Knits issue:

I showed my sister and said I wanted one, and she said “of course you want one.”

But, as much as I want it, I don’t think I want exactly that one, partly because it is cold outside, so I am running with it:

Here is the bottom of my tunic length, very close fitting, sweater in Mission Falls 1824 wool. I think it will have three-quarter length sleeves, because that’s what I like.

It’s liberating to knit whatever I like.

I kept having to up the needle size to get the lace pattern to work properly, so now the sweater is knitting up in a whiz.

It appears that people want this pattern even though I have told them it is strange, so here is the pattern page on my blog and a download link for Ravelry.

Note that this pattern is being offered for free, but it hasn’t been tech-edited, please keep this in mind, and if you find any errata, please forward them to me and I will integrate them into the pattern. If you download the pattern while signed into Ravelry, you will receive pattern updates. Otherwise, please check back for updated versions.

Parallax Knitting pattern page

Download pattern here

Sometimes I want to try things — wonderful and clever things. I work them out in my head and work out how to make them happen in yarn. I mess with things and play with them, until it seems like it will all go according to plan — and often it does, but sometimes, just sometimes, it does not.

Here is a sweater I designed all by myself, my first entrelac project:

It is so cute and I am so pleased with it most of the time,

And from most angles.

And then from some angles it just isn’t right at all:

I suppose that if I had thought about it, I should have anticipated that angular garments stay angular on, but I didn’t think about that. I thought about how brilliant I was to come up with a brand new way to make shoulder shaping that no one had ever thought of before, and that the ease would somehow take up the difference.

Ah Hubris, I should have know better — the reason no one else has done this before is that it is just not that good an idea.

I do in fact find that it relaxes after you wear it a while, but I think there is no way to save it from being too “conceptual” for publication. If anyone likes conceptual clothing and the idea of making a sweater in entrelac where the pattern is never broken, I have made the untech-edited pattern available, please download the pattern from Ravelry here.

If you find any errata, please let me know and I will update it. If you download the pattern while being signed in to Ravelry, you will get any pattern updates.

I am still kind of recovering from my prescribed, deadlined, focussed knitting of the summer and am currently knitting like Bridget Jones eats when she has a hangover — I am working on whatever indulgent thing I feel like and exploring the more exciting aspects of instant gratification.

Here is one of my recent creations:

It was made using this yarn I spun myself.

I just cast on a multiple of stitches and knit it up using my favourite cable pattern (see here and here).

I still have a bit left and think I will likely make a scarf using my Wisp pattern.

If anyone is interested, I could probably be induced to provide a pattern, just let me know in the comments.

Here is the almost final form for the earthworm scarf:

I like the way the lace weight sections are transparent, and the earthworm yarn from Milkyrobot was an absolute delight to knit. Every inch was interesting.

I made some kind of gauge error. I am not sure precisely where, but the scarf is not the size I calculated for.

I wore it today, and I found that the particular combination of length and weight doesn’t make a particularly wearable scarf because I don’t like the way it looks draped around my neck and it doesn’t stay wrapped.

I tried crocheting the ends together and making a long loop to go around my neck twice, and I think that is the way I will go with.

I was inspired to try to loop idea by Yokoo‘s cowls like this one.

I was surveying the wonders of Etsy today and came across the listing for Russian knitting and crochet magazines on Lado’s shop.

Just look at this:

From this magazine. How could anyone not want it?

If I can work in Japanese, I wonder if I can do the same in Russian?

I learned Russian for a year and my love the former Russian scholar says he will help me.

I have called Wool Emporium and Glenda carries the looms for hairpin lace — surely this all wouldn’t be too hard?

I started knitting this scarf while we were in Kansas in August. The yarn came from the Newton Beadery in Newton Kansas. I couldn’t tell it was a yarn shop at all from the street, but then I saw the crochet friendly yarn shop sticker from Interweave on the door, and I knew.

This yarn was on the clearance shelf, and it looked so much like snow that I couldn’t resist. It is Berroco Softy (52% DuPont Tactel® Nylon, 48% Nylon, 208 yards[190m], Snow Bunny 290).

I started knitting several scarves with the yarn and the fringe kept becoming more prominent, until the fringe was the scarf.

I am listing this scarf on my Parallax Knitting Esty Store here. The Ravelry listing is here.


I think the pattern is so fun and has the potential to use many kinds of yarn, I would especially like to see it in a handspun novelty yarn. I plan to write it out soon and make it available.

This is my version of calorimetry by

The gauge on mine was really far from that of the original as is the size (I have a large head), and it kind of makes me wonder how much you can modify a pattern before is is no longer that pattern, but I love the original and mine, and mine used the yarn I had.

The yarn was this one I spun myself, and I am very happy with it. I think I will always wear it with my red scarf because one of my mother’s best friends used to wear red and purple together, and I always thought it was the more glamorous thing ever, and in my heart I still do.

Kathryn was right — it is wonderful to have something to wear to keep warm with my hair up that is not those ear pocket things, which are ear muffs without the band.

Pixie scarf

Here are some pictures of the scarf I knit with the yarn I spun from the Pixie batts from Evonne Wee’s Etsy shop:

I am very pleased with it. I have listed it in my new Parallax Knitting Etsy store (here).

I didn’t realize that usernames mattered on Etsy, so I created a new one (my old one is still there too).

I am starting to list some of the things I make as there are really only so many scarves / hats / sweaters / gloves / etc. a person can reasonably have.

It’s beautiful and squidgy, if no one buys it I will definately not feel bad about adding it to the rotation.

Isn’t Vancouver beautiful?

On the needles is a scarf of a sort. I need to use up a ball of yarn that I made up when I started knitting. I wanted to do a project like Kaffe Fassett’s Persian poppies waistcoat (non-Ravelry link for an idea of what I mean).

I really didn’t understand about concepts like gauge or yarn weight or anything, so I just used bits of all the yarns I liked. The project did not really turn out like I expected it to (try not to be surprised), and the ball of bits of yarn sat in my basket for several years.

I had a bit of a brainwave after I made a design for a knit boa, and decided to make a multi-coloured one:

I quite like it. If anyone has any great ideas about what to do with the corresponding blue one, please share.

Pattern for the boa will be forthcoming soon.

Because if winter is coming can spring be far behind?

The winter solstice is the time when light and summer start coming back into the world. The solstice of course happens in midwinter, but, especially in more northern (or southern) climes, the return of the light can seem to take an inordinately long time. Sometimes it makes us feel better to wear clothing that anticipates the season, but it is still too cold to benefit from the convenient resort collections in the stores – for those in that situation I offer the West Wind Gloves.

Knit in a spring like green and twined in vine-like cables these gloves will keep you warm and help you imagine tendrils and vines growing in your garden, and unlike wisteria there is no need to keep an eye on them as they will not overgrow your house or take over disused rooms when you aren’t paying attention.

This pattern is knit on two needles with the gauntlet length version shown in the photos. The pattern also includes an option for a wrist length version.

(please note that this version of this pattern is knit on straight needles, a version knit in the round will be posted soon)

Difficult

Intermediate

Size

One size

Finished measurements

Palm circumference: 7.5 inches[19cm]

Gauntlet length from cuff to end of middle finger: 12 inches[30cm]

Wrist length from cuff to end of middle finger: 8 inches[20cm]

Materials

Brooklyn Handspun Instant Gratification [100% superwash merino wool; 280 yards/256m per approx. 100g skein]; color: Kinda Camo; 1 [2] skeins

1 set US #2/2.75mm straight needles

Cable needle

Stitch markers

Gauge

25 sts/35 rows = 4 inches[10cm] in stockinette stitch

Here is the earthworm scarf with the knitting completed, but the seams not sewn:

I plan to sew it up as I designed it in Debbie New’s labyrinth knitting technique, but I am quite smitten with it as is and kind of wish I could keep it like this.

I have some time now to work on whatever my little heart desires, and my heart has alighted on this scarf, which I haven’t had a chance to work on in several months.

I have swatched with this yarn several times now, and I wasn’t sure exactly how to make the most of it.

I was frustrated with with working the stripes in intarsia and wasn’t really pleased with the results, so I ripped it out and tried again:

I like this so much better. It compliments the texture of the yarn better somehow.


I have had some errata on the previous errata for the large size of this pattern. The rows are numbered incorrectly again, so here is the corrected pattern: Russian Princess in Exile.

I have had two projects in my knitting basket for several years. One I recently finished while on a stupidly long car trip — flying would have been a better choice, but we really knew we had gone somewhere (see here). The other is this:

It was going to be the Union Square Market Pullover by Kate Gilbert from Interweave Knits, fall 2005 (Ravelry link). The sweater is beautiful, and a quick Google search reveals that Eunny Jang did a beautiful rendition (here). This sweater really is gorgeous and there is nothing wrong with the pattern, but I simply don’t think I will ever finish it.

There are several reasons for this:

  • I was only able to get gauge with a needle size that bamboo doesn’t come in, and I hate metal needles.
  • The knitting goes very slowly.
  • I have changed my clothing preferences and now now I only want to wear tops that are hip length or longer.
  • Finally, when I started this project I was having health problems, and I really shouldn’t have been knitting at all (I had problems picking up a full mug with one hand at the time), and the project makes my hands hurt just by thinking about it.

I also don’t think this is a good candidate for unraveling as the yarn is sticky and falls in love with itself and would be ruined in the process.

The reason this has come to a head is that I have recently discovered that Kristina Wong is soliciting unfinished knitting and crochet projects for her performance art piece “Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” to be performed in Santa Monica this fall.

This is brilliant. I can separate myself from my failure to finish the piece and help further the cause of art and social awareness.

I will send it off tomorrow.

Here is the information Kristina has put out in her call for contributions (sourced from the Crochet Me blog):

Here’s how you can participate:

1) We love yarn and knitting projects that come in any color OTHER than black and white.
2) Remove your needle or hook from the piece. If possible run some waste yarn through the loops. No need to bind off. I’d prefer if it wasn’t!
3) Write a note describing yourself, why you knit, and what the project was supposed to be and why it never came to be.
4) Send your unfinished knitting projects by SEPTEMBER 15, 2008 to:

Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
C/O Kristina Wong
PO Box 251664
Los Angeles, CA 90025

I have finally got a pdf version ready for Lyra’s coat.

Download it here: Lyra’s Coat. The original version is still here.

It is almost time to start wearing it again.

One of the best things about a long car ride is time to knit, and driving from Saskatoon to Kansas is very far. I spent at least 6 days in the car and knit almost the whole time — and I finished the Leaves and Waves shawl from Knitty, Fall 2004 by Kat Coyle.

I am so smitten with the shawl now it is done and absolutely over the moon about the fact that the oldest work in progress from my work basket is done.

It took so long because I got bogged down in the stocking stitch section. I don’t think I would ever do another project with quite this combination of yarn, stitch pattern, and size of pattern — I kept dropping stitches, but the dropped stitches were almost invisible in the mohair. Ironically, the lace sections went faster.

I could have knit several sweaters in the time it took me to make this.

All the same it is beautiful now, and it is just sufficiently unusual to really appeal to me. I like traditional lace, but it never looks like I would really like to wear it. This on the over hand is (in my opinion) a perfect combination of traditional stitching and textures with asymmetrical design.

It is also rectangular, and for some reason I find rectangular shawls to be more wearable, and I wear a lot of shawls. I think it is because I treat them like security blankets — just call me Linus.

Here are my newest gloves in an almost completed state:

When I submitted Gloves Can Be Deceiving to Knitty Amy asked me for pictures of the gloves in the process of being sewn up, but I didn’t have any (I didn’t have a digital camera, so I didn’t document every aspect of my life as obsessively as I do now), so I didn’t want to let the opportunity to pass this time.

I am very happy with them.

I spent my day off this Monday (happy Saskatchewan day to one and all) writing the pattern out, so I hope to make it available in a couple weeks. I have the seamed version now and I plan to do another version knit in the round.

They really do help you channel your inner princess, and I anticipate being very grateful when they meet my three-quarter length sleeves in the middle.

There are two new online knitting magazines that are definitely worth checking out.

The first is Twist Collective: it has some wonderful designs. The sweater that most fascinates me is Little Birds by Ysolda Teague. I would love to knit that one, and sometime I might. The patterns are fee based; however, you can look at all the eye candy for free, and the patterns really look worth the money.

The next is Knotions, which is also quite lovely. I was initially a little confused when I went to the pattern page because the patterns were familiar, but that is because they are mounting some patterns from Magknits. The new patterns are here.

The Vogue Knitting and Interweave Knits pattern previews are out, which always excites me.

I don’t actually have time to knit anyone else’s patterns anymore as I can’t seem to find time to get all the ideas in my own head out in the time I can devote to knitting, but I love to look at them still.

If I did have time to knit someone else’s pattern (so if this were, let’s say fall 2004), I would be most likely to knit the orange/red/salmon cardigan with short sleeves and cables in the “Signature stitches” story in the Vogue issue (I like all the sweaters shown in the preview for that section) and the “Afterthought darts cardigan” by Theresa Schabes, which is similar to some ideas I have kicking around in my head.

I don’t think I could ever have too many cardi’s and the “Afterthought darts cardigan” looks eminently wearable. The only change I might consider would be to make the sleeves three quarter length as I like all my sleeves to be three quarter length, and the only change I would consider on the Vogue sweater would be to have a straight garter stitch border on the sleeve instead of the chevrons that seem to be there in the picture.

I love knitting for that reason, you can’t walk into the _______ (insert mainstream clothing store of your choice here) and say: “I will get that one, but in green, with long sleeves, and with the buttons on that sweater over there.”

I was trying to get the knitting machine working again. I had Glenda come over to teach me about it and while she was here it all seemed so very logical, but then she left and the logic went with her.

At this point what I want to make is a stockinette stitch rectangular shawl — that should be easy enough, or so I thought. I have this lace weight silk noil, which I want the shawl to be made of — of course that won’t be happening any more.

I got cast on and was going along as pleased as punch:

And here is a look up its shirt:

My yarn was wound; I had done my swatch; everything was going according to plan, when I noticed I was dropping a few stitches here and there, but I thought — it’s the first thing I have made with the machine and its for me and a rustic style anyway, so I will carry on. It doesn’t look that bad:

Here is the kind of thing that was giving me a hint something was wrong:

Then there was more:

Finally the whole thing had a bit of a fit, threw up its metaphorical hands in the air and in a final insult to me and my efforts, broke the yarn with a snap and the whole middle of the shawl jumped right off the machine and just sort of hung there.

There are no pictures of this stage as I had to peer through the space between the beds and up from beneath to figure out what had happened. I am used to hand knitting — you can always see the part where you made the mistake even if you don’t know what you did or how to fix it.

So I took the whole thing off the machine and don’t have enough yarn left to start again, and I have another weird bit of knitting to figure out what to do with. I think it may be calling out to be another cushion cover:

When I was a child, one of my favourite stories involved a prince who fell in love with a commoner who would not marry him until he had a trade, so he learned to weave cloth. They ruled for several years, but he didn’t know how people really lived in his country, so he dressed as a poor man and went out into the city to see for himself.

He was taken by a group of priests to a cave and forced to work with others as slaves. He found an old friend in the cave and together they made a very precious piece of cloth that would only be suitable for the queen, and in it he wove the story of his capture and where he and the others were being held.

This was done in such a cunning way that the priests would not be able to understand the message, but the queen would. Whereupon she rescued everyone.

This story mesmerized me — I loved the idea of a message in the cloth, and I was thinking of how to do something like that myself.

This is my scarf with a secret message in progress:

So far the message is really secret as you can’t see the way I have rendered Morse code into the stitch pattern, but I will be more explicit and post symbol charts for this particular rendering in a few days.

I will now leave you with a final picture and a note: it is an Armenian story called Anaeet.

Knitting in code

I love it when movies deal with things I like and give them a disproportionate level of importance. Perhaps it is confessing too much, but I love The Mummy, and a lot of that is the importance it attached to reading a book.

I went to see Wanted over the weekend, and I think I can say without giving too much away that a central part of the narrative revolves around “the Fraternity” a guild of medieval cloth weavers who formed a secret band of assassins a thousand years ago, and who are still in business — in both the textiles and killing business. Aside from the interesting observation that they appear to be running a cloth factory that only produces rather coarse cotton or linen plain weave fabric (I think this should be forgiven as it makes for quite nice spare images, and spools of thread in other colours do occasionally make an appearance), messages woven into the cloth in code are central to the plot.

I have been thinking about ways that messages could be incorporated into knitting for some time. So far, I have been focussing on Morse code, but really all sorts of codes could be knit into different garments.

I have been working on a project to create a lace scarf incorporating Morse code, and I will post about that with pictures and codes in general more extensively in a few days.

Well last night was the first night it has hailed so far this year. Yesterday was so hot (please humor me if you live somewhere that gets really hot, I have lived in the tropics, I know of what I speak), and the thunder started rumbling in the distance at about 10:00pm, and as we lay in bed the hail started, and I feared for my flax.

I jumped out of bed this morning and ran out to check on it:

See it is verdant and not in least trampled to the ground. Jon tells me that if it were trampled to the ground it would make me a real Saskatchewanian — because I would have lost a crop to hail. The summer is new: it may happen yet.

The cauliflower is also okay:

Taking pictures of cauliflower makes me think of Kaffe Fassett — he was the first designer who got me really excited about knitting, though I started with needlepoint. I think my cauliflower would be different from Kaffe’s (see Glorious Needlepoint): I think I would put some weeds in mine and holes where the bugs have eaten their share. I made his pear panel, and now it occurs to me that all these years later I still haven’t made in into a cushion or anything.

I like having a blog because it makes me complete things — under your watchful eyes I feel I need to produce something worth telling about. The knitting is running apace, but I am mired in projects I can’t write about. One think I will tell you is that I have a design coming out in Knitting in the Sun by Kristi Porter, which will be published next spring barring a flood or something. I sent the pattern on Sunday, and I am almost finished my sample. I am also very excited to be published in the same book as Stefanie Japel (see here). It makes me feel very accomplished and important.

I have been waiting for what seemed like forever for a package in the mail, and guess what — it just arrived:

This package, which looks so small on my table has loomed large in my mind for the last few weeks, as it contains yarn with a deadline attached. Here it is in the fibre:

It doesn’t look so threatening now does it? And here I will throw in a gratuitous yarn shot for good measure:

I have had such a frustrating time photographing this vest. These represent the fourth time we have tried to take good pictures — the last ones were okay, but I think they were too wintery, so here is our latest kick at the can:

The vest is great, but for some reason it hasn’t been easy to photograph well.

If you are interested in buying the pattern, the pattern page is here.

I just looked back and realized it has been quite a while since I wrote about my cabley gloves, and now they are so close to being done. I had forgotten how fast they work up when you do them this way.

Just look:

They always look like a dog’s breakfast at this stage, but I am very happy with the way they have turned out. It almost (almost) makes me look forward to winter, or at least October, so I can wear them.

Wisp is only a pattern in the broadest sense of the word and borrows heavily from Debbie New’s scribble lace technique from Unexpected Knitting, which is quite frankly one of the most wonderful knitting books I have ever come across.

I believe I have mentioned this before, but I think Debbie New would be the most fun person to have in a knitting group. I can just imagine what it would be like:

“So, Debbie, what are you working on?”

“I am using this great lace weight wool I got to knit myself a boat. I have dyed it puce and am going to get one of my sons to cover it with epoxy and take it camping.”

If you could convince Debbie to join, it might be worth starting a knitting group, just for that.

Note: I was initially scared off by statements from Amazon and bookstores about how long it takes to get the book, but Schoolhouse Press seems to really have it together, and it was worth the wait.

Download pattern here: Wisp PDF pattern

Difficulty

Beginner

Finished measurements

Approximately 5 inches [13cm] wide / 84 inches [213cm] long

Materials

[MC] 1 skein of bulky novelty yarn (shown: Milkyrobot Girls Throw Snow, super-bulky handspun, 40 yards[36m])

[CC] 1 skein coordinating fingering yarn (shown: Sandes Garn Sisu, 173 yards[158m] per 50g, colour 1042)

1 US #17/12.75mm circular needle

Tapestry needle

Gauge

Not really important and difficult to measure.

The process

I am working on the best most wonderful thing I can come up with for my second skien of yarn from Milkyrobot. It’s difficult to know exactly, because I don’t think it would work well in anything too complicated. It is also not enough to make anything of any great size. I could do something in a simple lace pattern, but I worry that would be boring and predictable.

I confess I live in dread of being boring and predictable.

I think I would like another scarf out of it, but how to do it? I have come up with three toning yarns in brown that I want to knit with it to make the scarf, and I think it should be made in sections of colours/textures/yarns.

Here is my second attempt.

Knitting with four balls of wool at once is a pain, and I am not sure that four straight stripes will do it for me, so I think it may be time to rip it. I really don’t recommend ripping out lace weight mohair (or any mohair really), with mohair you really are committed. It’s good that lace weight mohair is so cheap per metre, because I think I will just end up tossing that bit.

I think that for the next iteration, I will work a stripe of handspun first, perhaps 4 or 5 sts in k1, p1 rib, then knit the rest onto it, by picking up sts along it, as surely part of it should be knit perpendicular to the rest and, and knitting to the sides as I go. this will give me more control over how the scarf is evolving and be easier to work — less tangly.

I really like the effect of the lace weight section though. Somehow the contrast with the handspun greatly appeals to me.

I confess I like to knit gloves the way many knitters seem to like to knit socks — they are so satisfying.

They don’t take too long, they fit in your bag, and of done right they so closely mirror the dimensions and contours of the body — three dimensionality at its finest.

Here is the beginning of my newest creation:

I love knitting gloves on two needles: it is very satisfying and there are no double pointed needles to mess with. I don’t hate dpn, but I find that straight needles are just so much easier to work with. I do think I will write the pattern for both circularly knit and flat knit versions though, so you can all decide for yourselves.

I am making them cabled as that makes them warmer (I am not sure that gloves could ever be too warm here) and hopefully look spiffy. They will also have substantial cuffs that will be able to either under or over the sleeves of your coat.

The yarn is the Instant Gratification from Brooklyn Handspun that I wrote about before.

I plan to write up the pattern in both versions and post it in the next couple months.

Within the next few days I will be posting the free pattern for the scarf I made with the Girls Throw Snow Handspun Yarn I bought from Milkyrobot a few months ago.

Here is a sneak peak:

Grumble, grumble, scowl. . .

I just spent the best part of an hour ripping out the yoke of my current project, and I was so close to being done, but it wasn’t right, so now this is what I have to show for my labours:

Jess at Milkyrobot has interviewed me on her blog here: Interview: Sarah from Parallax Knitting. If you are interested in my knitting, spinning and generally fibrous life, please check it out.

Okay, so I was a little disheartened about the whole Christmas present sweater fiasco. I was so demoralized about having to undo the stitching and unraveling the sleeve caps (again) that I kept procrastinating on fixing the problem. Then my mother came to visit, and she suggested just pinning the extra fabric, stitching it, the trimming it, and finishing the edges.

Now I have read about this kind of thing, and I know you can cut your knitting in this way, but I was never sufficiently frustrated to try it before (you see, I am used to my projects turning out).

The whole exercise has been a success and here is a little tutorial in case it ever happens to you:

Here is what the shoulders looked like before:

The beginning

They were in fact worse than they appear in the photo if you can credit it.

The next step was putting the sweater on inside out and pinning it where the seam should be:

After this I basted the shoulder where it seemed like it should be, I did a few iterations of trying on and fixing the seam:

After I was happy with the seam placement, I sewed another line of stitching about three quarters of a centimetre from the first one and trimmed it:

Eek, my knitting is cut. This is something I never wanted to happen:

But in the end it was all worth it, as now it is actually wearable:

So that is the last of my Christmas presents for 2007, yeah!

I got this yarn in the mail a couple days ago, but I haven’t had time to write about it yet:

It’s from Brooklyn Handspun, and it’s called Instant Gratification in the “Kinda Camo” colourway.

I am so happy with it. I have started swatching it, and it works up so smooth and my cables show up very well. It is very soft too.

I am planning to make some gloves with it — I make gloves as other knitters seem to make socks and always seem to have another pair in me. The only thing I would observe about that is that it makes sense to have large numbers of socks, but a little less sense to have large numbers of gloves (for most people, single socks and gloves make even less sense, but that doesn’t mean that knitters don’t make those too).

It must be strange of me to wind my balls of yarn by hand when I have a yarn winder, but somehow I think they just come out so pretty that way.

I have just finished reading Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years – Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times by Elizabeth Wayland Barber; it was wonderful and transported me through time to see the work all those women did making things to make their lives a little more beautiful. It appears to be out of print, but I was able to order a copy from ABE Books without difficulty.

I loved the descriptions of making linen and wool, and I have come up with the brilliant idea of growing flax in the backyard.

Sure, it may not look like much now, but I will dig it and plant my flax and grow it and ret it and spin it. I anticipate that the flax I grow will not be good for “clothing,” but I can always knit a table cloth or a rug or something from it.

I need to dig the garden soon as the weeds are already growing. You see, last year I let it go “fallow” so there may be a bit of a battle to get this started, but I think it is a wonderful, if somewhat eccentric, idea. I have looked up the Flax Council of Canada’s website and they advise the farmers to plant it in the middle of May, and I plan to do the same.

I’ll keep you posted.

Download pattern here: Minimalist funnel neck

This sweater solves my knitting Catch-22: I don’t buy sweaters because this depletes perfectly legitimate yarn resources, and I don’t knit anything ordinary, because why would I want to spend that much time on something that is not fabulous? This means that I never have a plain black cardigan or pullover. This funnel neck pullover solves this paradox, by being a wardrobe basic, while incorporating great yarn and sufficient knitting interest to keep mine.

This sweater is close fitting and an exercise in three dimensional knitting. The whole sweater is knit in one piece from the neck down. I confess one of my parameters was that I wanted a project I could work on without looking, and after the yoke shaping this can be done. The final product is something I would make in more colours and with differing length sleeves and textures, but I am already onto my next eccentric project.

Minimalist funnel neck

Difficulty

intermediate

Size

Finished bust 32 [36, 40, 44]inches (80 [90, 100, 110]cm), shown in size 36 inches (90cm)

Materials

4 (4, 5, 6) skeins Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Aran (100% wool; 175 yd [160m] per 100g), colour#415 Maze

set of US 9 (5.5mm) double-point needles

16″ (40cm) US 9 (5.5mm) circular needle

29″ (74cm) US 9 (5.5 mm) circular needle

Two kinds of stitch markers

Tapestry needle

Gauge

15 sts and 20 rows = 4″ (10cm) in k1, p1 rib, slightly stretched

minimalist funnel neck - back Minimalist funnel neck

I just finished my latest creation. I took it with me on my last trip and worked on it on the plane, and I perfectly gaged how big it could be before I would run out of yarn.

This is all I have left:

Surely that is a thing of beauty.

Download pattern here: Josephine.

Originally published in Magknits, March 2008

This sweater has much to recommend it: it is warm and cosy and a fast enough knit to be ready before it gets too warm to need it. The cowl can be worn buttoned or open as an oversized collar. There is a minimum of actual direction in this pattern, with most sizing being placed anywhere along the row you like – like many things this pattern shows that random numbers can create great results.

Of course human beings do not make good random number generators as we dislike to see the same number appear consecutively, but for the purposes of this design that is fine, because humans are the beings who will look at your sweater most, and most other humans have the same biases as you.

Difficulty

Easy

Size

33 inch / 84cm (37 inch / 94cm, 41 inch / 104cm, 45 inch / 114cm, 49 inch / 125)

Materials

6 (6, 7, 8, 8) skeins Rowan Big Wool (100% wool, 87 yd [80 m] per 100g); colour: tremble #35

US 17 [12 mm] circular needle, 16 inches (40cm) long

US 17 [12 mm] straight needles

OR

US 17 [12 mm] circular needle, 24-32″ (60-80 cm) long

Stitch markers

Tapestry needle

7 1.75-inch [44 mm] buttons

Gauge

7.5 sts and 10 rows = 4″ [10 cm] in stockinette

I was away this week in Washington DC, and the cherry blossoms were in bloom, just as they should be. I walked around the mall and here is proof that I was actually there:

The Washington Monument

The weather was beautiful. I walked so far trying to see everything.

Now I am back in Saskatchewan, and this morning I woke up to this:

Snow in April

Hmmm, but I got some wonderful yarn at Stitch DC, which makes up for it all.

Habu and hemp for knitting yarn

The black is some wonderfully textural linen from Habu; the grey is silk and stainless steel from Habu; the blue is hemp for knitting from Lanaknits.

I was so excited; I haven’t found Habu yarns at any of the yarn stores I have been to in Canada. I have so many ideas about what to do with it all.

I will keep you posted and wait for the snow to melt.

I have finally finished Lyra’s red sweater coat from the Golden Compass!

Here are some preliminary pictures:

lyras-coat-completed1.jpg

lyras-coat-completed2.jpg

The sleeves grew quite a bit in the wash, so keep that in mind. They started as a bit short, but now they are to my knuckles, but what can you do?

It’s very fun, and I am looking forward to wearing it.

I will post some better and more posed pictures in a few days, maybe I’ll even get it together to put on makeup.

As we previously discussed there is a small problem with the placement of the pockets on my coat, so here are instructions to show the way I have dealt with this little problem.

This is what they are like now:

Lyra’s Coat with botched Pockets

lyras-coat-botched-pockets2.jpg

I cut half the threads that make the coat at one side, slightly staggered, so the join won’t show too badly and unwind the cast on edge:

lyras-coat-botched-pockets3.jpg

Then I cut the other half at the other side and unwound those too:

lyras-coat-botched-pockets4.jpg

Finally, I will put the yarn on a tapestry needle and graft the two sides together:lyras-coat-botched-pockets5.jpg

lyras-coat-botched-pockets6.jpg

The unevenness will go out after I “block” it — actually this will be more of a “wash.”

I am almost done Lyra’s coat. I tried it on today and I only have a few more inches. Actually, the whole thing is so heavy that it grows and I think I should stop sooner than I intuitively think I should.

The pockets are a fiasco. The coat has grown from when I made them and they are no longer anywhere near my hands. I could do Elizabeth Zimmerman’s method of cutting the yarn and taking out the stitches to make holes for the pockets, but the coat is so heavy I think I would have to reinforce them in some way and I just don’t think it will work well, so the pockets will be nixed for my sweater.

I think I will be posting a technique of how to undo pocket holes in the next few days, so you can all look forward to that. Just remember if you are caught up with me in knitting this that I said you should make pockets where you want them, so if you placed yours as badly as I did, it is not my fault.

I have a couple pictures of me knitting the coat:

Lyra’s coat in progress

Lyra’s coat in progress - 2

It is enormous and overflows my lap. I wish it would be done now. Just a few more inches.

I just wish I had a bathtub to wash it in — it will overflow the kitchen sink as well, and it is musty!

I have gotten back to working on Lyra’s coat again today. I was having a little break from it, partly because I have hardly had a complete minute at home, and partly because I would need a duffel bag to carry the great damn thing around with me.

I was thinking about all the yarn I am using up, it is so nice to use all this that would probably otherwise never get used. It makes me think about my sister who once had an unworn wedding dress from an old store that was closing. My mother made me give it away when my sister wasn’t there because she felt it was unlucky, and surely she was right. There must be something unlucky about something that is made only for a special event and to represent a wonderful life to come that is never used for that purpose, but instead sits in a basement for years in a garment bag.

Yarn must be like that — it wants to be something, having it sit in a basement or closet for so many years it becomes musty must be wrong. Like the letters that never got delivered in Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal and made all the people who worked in the post office lose their minds because the energy of the undelivered letters built up and overcame them. Yarn must be like that, it wants to be worn and exist and go outside. I am doing what I can for the yarn in my life — what are doing about the yarn in yours?

I have just finished a project from my stash, and I plan to make the pattern available here in the next few weeks, but I thought I might give you a sneak peek at what was coming:

Gwen

I still need to block it and photograph it properly, so you can get a better idea of what it really looks like.

And just because I love yarn closeups:

gwen-2.jpg

I have recently realized that I have become the resident knitting guru at my job. This role used to be filled by two other women, but I think having a few patterns published pushed me to the fore, and now anyone who has a problem with a project comes to ask me about it.

I am having so much fun with this, and the best part is that people have begun to bring me little offerings – yesterday someone brought me two little balls of yarn from her mother for when my knitting machine is fully operational. A couple of months ago someone else brought me two shopping bags of yarn from her stash for my Lyra’s coat, and before that someone brought me all her mother’s knitting needles.

This is just great. I feel like I should have a little shrine outside my office with knitting needles in sand instead of incense and balls of yarn as offerings. I just can’t tell you how much of a kick I get out of it when everyone asks me for help (and of course brings me stuff).

The irony is that I suspect that the other two women are actually better technical knitters than me. I just like messing around with yarn and making stuff up, but I won’t complain.

Pockets

Of course pockets in all knitting projects are optional and the original didn’t have any, but I have more or less dispensed with accurately recreating the sweater exactly (though this pattern could easily be done that way), I also love walking with my hands in my pockets, so mine will have some.

Work your sweater in garter stitch until you get to the part where pockets should be. I suggest trying it on (if you are anything at all like me this will be just the next in a succession in many tryings on) and figuring out where you want pockets.

At this point my sweater looks like this (click to see full size):

lyras-coat-at-pockets.jpg

I am also adding a few stitches for hip shaping here, which is also optional and will depend on the body shape of the person who will wear it. I have already added 2 stitches in one row and will add 2 more a little later, this will add about 2 inches. I chose to do this staggered, so it wouldn’t suddenly bulge – I spend quite a bit of mental energy in clothing selection trying to make my hips not look like they bulge.

The next step is to figure out how wide you want your pockets. I figure I want mine about 6 inches (18cm) wide. Change the width of the pocket to align with the size of the sweater you are making and/or your preferences: smaller sweater = smaller pocket and vice versa.

The next step is to go back and work how wide each front side was. Then I suggest taking the number of stitches on each front side, subtracting the number of stitches to make your pocket the size you want, and dividing the remaining number by 2 and placing your pocket that many stitches from the edge.

Now you know how wide your pocket will be and where to put it, on the next right side row (so the garter pattern will work better) work as many stitches as will be the edge of your pocket, take as many stitches as make your pocket and put them on waste yarn or a stitch holder, CO as many stitches as will make your pocket (I suggest backward loop cast in this situation), work until you are the number of stitches between your pocket and the edge plus the number of stitches for your pocket and repeat the process with the holder and the cast on. Work to end, turn and work as usual.

I plan to work the pockets at the end with one strand of whatever yarn I have left so it will not be too bulky. I will K1, yarn over, K1, yarn over . . . , so the difference in gauge will not be such a problem, and in the next row I will knit through back loop, so there will not be holes from the yarn overs. I will post about this too, but I am outlining it now in case you want to change order of knitting or get ahead of me.

My version

My two fronts are 19 sts each. My gauge is 7 sts /4 inches (10cm).

(6 inches (15cm) for each pocket) x (7 sts / 4 inches (10cm) gauge) = 10.5 sts (say 11 sts) for pocket

(19 sts / front) – (11 sts for pocket) = 8 sts / 2 = 4 sts from edge

Knitting of course is amenable to fudging and now I see that I don’t like the distance from the edge that my calculations came up with, so am am changing it to 6 sts from edge.

So I need to K6, put 11 sts on holder, CO11, K to 16 sts from end, put 11 sts on holder, CO11, work to end. In the next row I work in garter stitch as usual.

This is about what it should look like at this stage:

pockets.jpg

March MagKnits is up, including my Josephine:

Josephine

Note: Since Magknits is unfortunately no more, I have posted this pattern as a free pdf download here.

I have been having problems with my knitting machine see here and here). It hasn’t really given me any indication up till now that it wanted to do anything I directed.

I don’t know anyone who knows how to do this, so I have to learn with these:

km-1.jpg

Which is of course very hard. Finally last Sunday, I threaded the machine and tried to knit.

km-2.jpg

It was so hard and I actually had to cut it loose (no pictures – painful memory I want to forget).

I then thought maybe I should try cleaning and oiling it – who could anticipate that old machinery that hasn’t been used in years might need to be cleaned and lubricated? – I never said I was good at this part.

After that the knitting machine and I had a time out for a few days.

Then today I got home from work and tried one more time and I was able to . . . wait for it . . . you guessed it . . . cast on!

I made a weird little bit of too tight ribbing with waste yarn, which I will one day throw in the garbage, but not today, because I made the knitting machine work.

Please pause a moment to consider my creation:

km-4.jpg

km-3.jpg

See it can be done.

A glove by any other name - 1$5.00

Of course you could just knit gloves on double pointed needles. Life would be more simple if everyone did things the same way, but not everyone likes dpn, and sometimes you want to try something different, just because you can.

These gloves are knit on straight needles in double knitting, so there are no seams either. They require the same amount of making up that gloves on dpn: just weave in ends.

Difficulty

Average

Size

One size

Finished measurements

11 inches [28cm] long (with cuff, without cuff 8 inches [20cm])

8 inches [20cm] around palm

Materials

Filatura Di Crosa New Malizioso [100% wool; 55yd/50m per 50g skein]; color: 4; 2 skeins

1 set US #9/5.5mm straight needles

Gauge

10 sts / 15 rows over 4 inches [10cm]

A glove by any other name - 2 A glove by any other name - 3 Double knit gloves

 

I want to knit everything on straight needles — absolutely everything.

I knit gloves on straight needles, see here and here. I also knit sweaters on straight needles, see here and the new issue of Magknits coming out in March. I also knit hats on straight needles, but that is a little less extraordinary, see here and here.

Double knit gloves

I partly dislike circulars and partly it just seems fun to do it that way.

I am so excited about my next pattern, which I will be posting this weekend if all goes well. I have a new (though perhaps unvented as opposed invented) way of making gloves on two needles, so I hope you will check back.

Here is a sneak preview.

Gloves on two needles never look like anything special when you are knitting them, then the metamorphose into something right.

Lyras Coat with Sleeves

Cast on stitches at underarms and work body of sweater:

This is about what your sweater coat should look like at this stage.

The sleeves are completed and it is now time to put the live stitches from the body back on your needles and cast on some stitches for the underarms.

The first thing you need to do is measure how large your sweater is without casting on for underarms. This means you should measure your two front halves and the back. These numbers combined are how large the sweater is now.

Next, you will need to work out how big it should be. I think I want 6 inches [15cm] ease. This is because I want the sweater to drape like a coat, and coats tend to be bigger, and because the fabric is so thick the inside will be smaller than the outside. (thank you Elizabeth Zimmermann, see Knitter’s Almanac, unfortunately out of print). If your sweater is much smaller, i.e. child’s size, you may want to have slightly less ease (4-5 inches [10-12cm], but that is up to you.

Subtract how big your sweater is from how big you want it to be, this will give you how much you need to cast on for. Divide this amount by two for each underarm and multiply it my your gauge, this will give you the number of stitches to cast on under each arm.

Put all the live stitches onto a long needle (I think you will need a circular needle for this), which will fold the sleeves in half. If you find that you didn’t end one end in the right direction and you will not start your garter stitch on the same (right side or wrong side) row, work one row to make it even.

Starting at the beginning of the row of the stitches you have on your needle, work to the first sleeve, cast on the number of stitches you worked out in the previous step; repeat for the second underarm. You will now have enough stitches on your needle for the complete body of the sweater.

At this point you can decide to work straight until the end of the garment, in which case, you can bid farewell to my instructions, such as they are. Just keep going until you are happy, bind off, sew on your preferred method of closure, sew the sleeve seams, wash the sweater (if you are using old stash yarn and your sweater smells a little fusty), block/dry it, and enjoy.

I however, have decided that I want pockets, I know the original didn’t have any, but I want them and it’s my sweater. I also plan to add a few stitches for a little increased room for my hips and walking stride. If you want either of these things, work to the point at which these things would be appropriate and I will try to catch up to you as soon as I can.

My version:

My sweater without casting on at underarms is as follows:

(11 inches [28cm] x 2 fronts) + 23 inches [58cm] = 45 inches [114cm]

If you think back to the measurement stage, my bust with clothes is 38 inches [97cm]

45 inches [114cm] – (38 inches [97cm] + 6 inches [15cm]) = -1 inch [-2cm]

My sweater turned out to be big enough already, so I will just start knitting the body, but if you need any added under the arms, follow the directions here.

This is what my sweater looked like before I joined for and started working body:

ready to work body

This is what my sweater looked like after I worked a few rows and sewed the sleeve seams with mattress stitch:

sleevessewn.jpg

I found that sewing the sleeve seams made the knitting easier, so I did that now, but that is a matter of preference.

If you added stitches under the arms, sew the beginnings of the sleeves to the underarm stitches, then sew the rest of the sleeve seam straight.

I have come up with another method for swatchless knitting.

Debbie New has a few in her book Unexpected Knitting. They include knitting on the bias and adding stitches each side, like knitted dishcloths. At this point, I should say that I am only talking in a theoretical way at this point as I have never knit anything as practical as a dishcloth. This way you knit a piece with a right angle and then when your sides are as long as the shortest side, you start decreasing at the same rate, if you want it to be rectangular, you continue increasing on one side and decrease on the other.

She calls her other method log cabin knitting, and she casts on a few stitches knit a few rows, binds off, and picks up more stitches off one of the sides, knits a few rows, binds off, repeats. This can make a square or I suppose whatever rectangular shape you want, like a log cabin quilt.

I imagine Debbie New as the most fun person in the whole world to have in a knitting group.

Her ideas are great, but I have formulated another way, though it really only works when you design your own patterns.

My method was inspired by Norah Gaughan’s Roundabout Leaf Tank from Knitting Nature. In it, you start with a strip of knitting and knit long enough to go around your hips then you start knitting it together with the beginning of the strip in a spiral making up the body of the sweater.

Morse code vest - stitch closeup

What I figured, was that you could just cast on some stitches and start knitting without making a swatch, because you could measure your gauge from your first piece and work out your pattern for the whole garment. Then you cast on enough to make the other side of the front or back or enough to do the whole rest of whatever you are are knitting and at the end of your first row, start knitting your new piece together with your first piece.

The stitch I use to knit the two pieces together is as follows: work in pattern to last stitch of RS row, slip 1 with yarn in back, pick up and knit 1 stitch from the first row of other piece, pass slipped stitch over, turn, slip 1 stitch with yarn in front, knit to end.  This stitch works when picking up from the left edge of the right side of knitting; I have figured out how to do it on the left edge of the wrong side, but it is more convoluted.

If you would like to knit a design I knit this way, please see my Morse code vest.

Morse code tank$5.00

A series of dots and dashes that form a meaningful whole . . .

This close fitting vest or tank is knit in four pieces each with different stitch patterns, but they come together to form a coherent garment, which is knit together as you go, so there is no making up at the end. This makes a nice lacy tank, but if you are too modest or chilly to wear it as one, it makes a wonderful vest as well. I fantasize about making myself another in something soft and fuzzy for the winter.

I think that buttons going up the back of clothes are wonderful. They give you a nice stretch if you do them up yourself, but they are more fun if you have someone to do them up for you – so keep everyone guessing about who is helping you on with your clothes in the morning.

Difficulty

Average

Size

XS [S, M, L, 1X, 2X, 3X] (shown in size M)

Finished measurements

Chest: 28[32, 36, 40, 44, 48, 52] inches

Length: 22.5[22.5, 23, 23.5, 23.5, 24, 24] inches

Materials

[MC] Rowan Summer Tweed [70% silk, 30% cotton; 118 yd/108 m per 50g skein]; color: 535 shark; 4 [4, 5, 5, 6, 6, 7] skeins

1 set US #9/5.5mm straight needles

notions required: stitch holder, stitch markers, 6 three-quarter inch (2cm) buttons

Gauge

14 sts/20 rows = 4″ in stockinette stitch

Morse code vest - 3 Morse code vest - 2

Slouch Hat

When I was a child I always wanted asymmetrical things. I remember my mother explaining to me that one braid and one ponytail was not what people do; she may have been right, but I made this hat slightly asymmetrical anyway.

Slouch Hat

Difficulty: Easy

Size: M[L] (shown in size L)

Finished measurements: 20 inches (50cm) [24 inches (61cm)] slightly stretched
slouchhat-yarn.jpg
Materials: 122 yards [112m] Bouclé yarn

Note: I used 2 skeins of Emu Florentine [51% Wool, 44% Acrylic, 5% Nylon]; 61 yards [56 m] per skein. The ribs may show much more if knit with a different yarn.

1 set US #9/5.5mm straight needles

Gauge: 12 sts / 14 rows to 4 inches [10cm]

For complete pattern see: Slouch Hat Pattern

Ahh my vanity . . .

I just had Jordi link to my blog from over at Above the gwb announcing the completion of my Russian princess in exile hat. It is so exciting to see someone has knit my pattern.

I read How Not to Write Novel: Confessions of a Midlist Author by David Armstrong. In it he talks of fantasizing about seeing someone, just anyone, reading one of his books in public, but never having it happen. I feel the same way about my knitting designs. I would so love to pass a stranger wearing a design of mine.

I occasionally Google my designs to see what others have done with them (this is much more feasible for me to do than say Norah Gaughan, who I have a big knitterly equivalent of a girl crush on, and I am sure we would be great friends if we ever met).

I come up with all sorts of things; for example Beth over at Knit knit knit knit (new url) was having trouble with my pattern Urban rustic gloves the February before last (here). I wonder what the etiquette is on this kind of thing, I suppose it is too late to offer assistance.

Amalas at Yellow wood made my Minimalist funnel neck as her first sweater, and look someone did it in Japanese, at 茶の間で編物.

It’s all very gratifying, but I suppose that if I continued and made it big, it would all become old hat in no time. If Pam Allen, Teva Durham, Norah Gaughan (sorry about the girl crush thing, I don’t really think I know you), Stefanie Japel, etc. (I count anyone who has published a knitting book in this category) are reading, please feel free to let me know.

(By the way, David, if you Google yourself and are reading, I am not writing a novel right now)

closeup1

I just can’t tell you how fun this project is.

I notice that so many bloggers I have been watching (e.g. Knit and tonic) seem to be destashing, and while it does seem like selling yarn is kind of spreading the love, a lot of what I have will not likely be wanted by anyone, and this project uses so much yarn and it is so pretty.

Okay, so I like garish colours and if I could wear red all the time without seeming odd (well, odder than I already do), I just might, except that I like other colours too. Look at this red:

CloseUp2

All it came from is this:

lyrascoat-yarn2.jpg

And that picture looks much better than the mess of yarn in my living room, from whence the knitting came.

I feel like an alchemist, that I have created a singularity in space-time and reversed the force of entropy and am creating pure order out of chaos. Ponder this:

Closeup3

You could do this with yarn from your grandmothers attic or the thrift store, any old thing. That’s why I can’t bear the thought of buying yarn for this project, however pretty it may be, and though you wouldn’t need to wash the mustiness out of it before you wore it.

Sleeves:

Your sweater should look something like this at this point:

Lyra’s Coat, knit to picking up sleeves

Take the measurement of your arm and add around 4 inches [10cm] ease to it (I am adding 4 inches [10cm] to my sleeve, when my arm over my sleeve is 12 inches [30cm], add a little more if you are knitting a larger sweater or less if you are knitting a smaller sweater).

Equation:

Measurement of arm = A

Ease = B

Gauge = C

Number of stitches to pick up for sleeves = D

(A + B) * C = D

With right side of piece facing you, pick up and knit the number of stitches you just worked out in the previous step along the arm rise, from right (so that your first row will be a wrong side row).

Lyra’s Coat - picked up for sleeves

Knit to approximately 2.5 inches [6cm] after the middle of the arm rise, turn and make a yarn over over the right needle (you will knit this yarn over together with the next stitch on the next row). Knit for approximately 5 inches [12cm], turn working yarn over as for last row, work to end of previous row, knit yo with next stitch, work 3 more stitches, turn with yarn over as for previous row.

Continue with short rows, working 3 stitches further each row and using short row yarn overs to close the holes until all the stitches you picked up are worked.

Work straight until sleeve is desired length, bind off.

My version:

A = 12 inches [30cm]

B = 4 inches [10cm]

C = 1.75 stitches / inch [0.7 stitches / cm]

(12 inches [30cm] + 4 inches [10cm]) x 1.75 stitches / inch [0.7 stitches / cm] = D

16 inches [40cm] x 1.75 stitches / inch [0.7 stitches / cm] = 28 sts

Pick up and knit 28 sts.

K18, turn, yo, k8, turn, yo, k11, turn, yo . . .

Lyra’s Coat - sleeve with short rows worked

Work until all stitches are picked up, work until sleeves are desired length.

At this point my sweater looks like this:

Lyra’s Coat - Sleeve

I didn’t want to make you wait.

Knitting the body to the underarms:

We have knit our yokes and are now ready to knit the fronts and back separately to the underarms, when we will cast on some stitches for the underarms and work the rest of the sweater in one piece.

I am posting before I have this whole step finished this time because I don’t want to make you wait.

Lyra’s Sweater - Part 10

Divide for fronts and back:

Count your stitches, divide the number of stitches by 2, making sure the number for the front is even.

Divide the number of stitches for the front by 2 (if you increased evenly from the collar this shouldn’t be a problem).

If you prefer an equation:

(A / 2) ≈ C ≈ (B x 2)

Where A = the total number of stitches, C = the number of stitches for the back, and B = the number of front stitches.

Fronts:

Place the number of stitches for one of your fronts onto your needle and the rest of the stitches on holders. Work even until your piece measures the measurement you took of the distance from the shoulder to the line with the underarm. Repeat for other front.

Back:

Place the back stitches on your needle and work even as you did for the fronts. If you want to get fancy you can work your back slightly longer than the fronts to help it fit better.

My version:

Total number of stitches at the end of the yoke: 75.

75 / 2 = 37.5

Number of stitches for the back = 37

Number of stitches for the front = 38 or 19 for each side

Put 19 stitches at side onto a needle, work for 9 inches [23cm] straight.

Repeat for next side.

Put 37 stitches for back on needle and work 10 inches [25cm] straight.

I am so excited. I have had my knitting machine in pieces as it came out of the shipping box since last May. And now, here it is together in all its glory:

My knitting machine

I understand that it took a vice and a specialized hammer to get the part into the plate where I couldn’t get it together before, but now it is ready and all I need to do is learn how to use it. I have several ideas for projects I want to get to.

I have made a page where I have compiled the instructions for Lyra’s sweater coat. As I post the next steps, I will continue to add them to this page as well: Lyra’s coat.

Increase for shoulders:

Work to 1 st before first marker, pick up the stitch beneath the next stitch on the row and knit into it, k1 (keep marker before this stitch), pick up the stitch beneath the previous stitch (same st as you increased into previously) and knit into it, (2 sts increased). You can increase any way you like as long as you increase 2 sts in a line each row at each shoulder marker.

Work to next marker and pick up the stitch beneath the next stitch on the row and knit into it, slip marker, k1, pick up the stitch beneath the previous stitch (same st as you just increased into) and knit into it, (2 sts increased).

Your increase stitches should look like this:

Lyra’s Coat - yoke increase stitches

Work the previous row increasing for shoulders in a line until the line along the increases equals your measurement from neck to shoulder plus 1 inch [2.5cm], or a little longer if you want more of a dropped shoulder.

You can take this opportunity to take it off the needles and try it on and see if you like the way it is going. It’s really not too late to frog it if you don’t like the fit.

My version:

I increased as described, for 11 rows, I started with 31 sts: 31 + 44 = 75 sts, distance from base of collar is 5.5 inches [14cm].

Lyra’s coat - picture of yoke

Pick up stitches around the collar:

If you chose collar option 2, fold over collar and tack the two long edges together.

Pick up and knit stitches from the long edge of the collar, for option 1 pick up along cast off edge, add a few stitches evenly spaced along the collar for the body. You don’t need overlap for buttons as the closures are with loops and toggles.

Count your stitches, divide your number of stitches by two, round your numbers to make sure that the number for the front is divisible by 2.

Divide your number for the front by 2, work this many stitches, place marker, work stitches for back, place marker, work to end.

If you prefer an equation:

  • A = number of stitches picked up from collar
  • B = number of stitches for each front
  • C = number of stitches for back

(A / 2) ≈ C ≈ (B x 2)

lyrassweater-pickedupsts.jpg

My example:

Pick up and knit 31 sts (from 25 sts on collar). Turn. Work 8 sts, place marker, work 15 sts, place marker, work 8 sts (31 sts).

Note: I have had to frog my collar and start again. I overestimated the amount of stretch in my swatch. If you like your collar as done with the previous instruction, please continue with it. I have just changed the finished measurements of the collar to A + 1 inch [2.5cm] instead of A – 1 inch [2.5cm]. Otherwise, please see the revised instructions.

We are now ready to work out and knit the collar. You will need the following information:

  • Neck measurement (in inches or cm) = A
  • Number of stitches per inch (or cm) = B
  • Desired height of collar (in inches or cm) = C

Collar option 1:

Note: This option is cast on and worked from side to side making a stand up collar.

Equation: (A + 1 inch [2.5cm]) x B = number of stitches to cast on

Using the long tail method, cast on the number of stitches from the equation above and work until the collar is the desired length bind off.

Collar option 2:

Note: This option is worked from side to side then folded double lengthwise. This appears to be the way the original sweater was made, but I prefer the previous option for my sweater and my swatch appears to be a little thicker and stiffer than the original, so this option wouldn’t work as well for me.

Equation: (C x B x 2) = number of stitches to cast on

Using the long tail method, cast on the number of stitches from the previous equation, work until piece measures (A + 1 inch [2.5cm]), bind off.

lyrassweater-collar.jpg

My collar (option 1):

  • Neck measurement = A = 13 inches [33cm]
  • Number of stitches per inch = B = 7 sts /4 inches = 1.75 stitches / inch [0.7 stitches / cm]
  • Desired height of collar = C = 2.5 inches [6.5cm]

(A + 1 inch[2.5cm]) x B = (13 inches [33cm] + 1 inch [2.5cm]) x 1.75 stitches / inch [0.7 stitches / cm] = stitches

I need to cast on 25 stitches, work until piece measures 2.5 inches [6.5cm], and bind off.

I feel I should give you a brief overview of what I plan to do next. Here is a short list:

  • Next we will work out and knit the collar for the coat.
  • After the collar, we will pick up and knit stitches for the body of the sweater.
  • We will then knit down in one piece to the divide for the shoulders.
  • Next we will knit the two fronts and back separately to the base of the armholes at which point, we will cast on some stitches for the underarms and continue knitting in one piece.
  • Either at this point or at the end, we will pick up and knit stitches for the sleeves and work them straight to desired length.
  • We will continue knitting the body straight to the desired length.
  • We will then attach appropriate closures and show our lovely creations to the world (I am not including button holes in the pattern as the original didn’t have any, if you want them, I suggest placing YO button holes at your discretion).

armconstrcutionexample.jpgNote: because we are doing the designing this way, I have decided to go with a dropped shoulder and a square sleeve join like this sweater I knit from Vintage Knits: 30 Exquisite Vintage-Inspired Patterns for Cardigans, Twin Sets, Crewnecks and More, by Sarah Dallas, as I think this will be easier for everyone to make fit. It also looks like the original was shaped quite like this.

If anyone has questions or suggestions on how to proceed please let me know.

The next thing we need to do to recreate Lyra’s sweater is get the measurements for the person the sweater is for.

Here is a list of measurements that you will need to have measurements of (all measurements are over clothes like those you would be wearing under the coat):

  • bust
  • arm circumference
  • neck circumference
  • distance from shoulder to shoulder (from where you want the sleeves to begin, or to end of clavicles)
  • distance from base of neck to shoulder (where you want the sleeves to begin, or to end of clavicle)
  • distance from top of shoulder to line where underarm of sweater should be (an inch or two under the armpit)
  • distance from shoulder to knee or preferred length

Here are my measurements in case you need an example or happen to be a women’s medium, in which case you can knit the same pattern as me, though I think that takes away some of the fun:

  • bust – 38 inches [97cm]
  • arm circumference – 12 inches [30cm]
  • neck circumference – 13 inches [33cm]
  • distance from shoulder to shoulder – 14 inches [36cm]
  • distance from base of neck to shoulder – 5 inches [13cm]
  • distance from top of shoulder to line where underarm of sweater should be – 9 inches [23cm]
  • distance from shoulder to knee – 42 inches [107cm]

If you are making this coat for a person whose belly or hips are much wider than her bust, you will need her measurement at her widest part as well, otherwise for most children or people without much difference in measurement you can knit straight. I have about a 4 inch [10cm] difference between my bust and my hips, and I plan to switch to larger needles after I get past my waist.

I have achieved enough yarn to finish the coat (surely this is enough):

lyrascoat-yarn.jpg

I have worked up a swatch:

lyrascoat-swatch.jpg

And here is my gauge: 7 sts / 12 rows to 4 inches / 10cm.

I knit this with between 4 and 7 strands held together at any time on US size 15 / 10mm needles.

lyrascoat-gauge1.jpg

lyrascoat-gauge2.jpg

I like the result. The colours are slightly, but only slightly, less lurid than the pictures.

Please don’t feel you need to match my gauge as I plan to make the instructions adjustable for size and gauge.

A few notes on what I found working the swatch:

  • The colours work better when the added colour is either lighter or darker than the main colour, having both darker and lighter strands together made it look odd.
  • Any time you want to add another colour or strand you just hold it with your group. It’s not going to unravel as the other threads will hold it.
  • When you need a thread to go through to the back, you can poke it through with your finger.

It’s a go!

I have the yarn, and I will be doing Lyra’s coat!

I will post the first steps tonight with pictures of a gauge swatch etc.

I was talking with some of the women I work with about not knitting Lyra’s coat because I don’t have enough yarn, and she says she may have some that might work to add to my pile.

She may bring it Monday.

I was thinking that then, instead of me just posting the pattern after I get it done, I could post my design process with variables and equations where you could put your measurements and gauge, and we could all design the sweater together. This would make things go faster for you, make me go faster to keep up, and, I think, be more interesting for everyone.

Would anyone be interested? I have already started my first post with requirements for measurements, so I hope so.

Always consider that a sweater, or any other knitted item, will need to be washed.

Any design that relies too much on knitting’s propensity to curl in on itself for effect will be almost completely flat after you wash it and never look like like that again.

Now that you think you have enough yarn and know your gauge, and I hope you did a good size swatch to judge texture and colour as well as gauge. We need to decide how you want to construct the coat. I am sure the original was constructed quite simply: worked in garter stitch in one piece to the arm holes then the sleeves worked separately and sewn on at the end. This is easy enough to do, and if you decide to do it this way, I would suggest a good technical design book, such as the Vogue knitting: the ultimate knitting book, I love this book, and I really wish I had my own, but instead I monopolize the library’s copy.

If you go this way, then my advice is likely of little use to you. Other writers have made it all quite clear in other places. I however would like to suggest a slightly different way . . .

Please bear with me here, what I would suggest is constructing the coat in one piece from the top. This has several things to recommend it: most importantly you won’t run out of yarn before you finish the second half of the last sleeve. Perhaps it is just my bias, and there are ways to measure how much yarn you need: e.g. work a square of a set size, such as one foot square, weigh it on a good scale and divide it to get the weight per square inch and multiply it by the number of square inches you have worked out your sweater will be, but I never do this, and working from the top means you can just continue until you are happy with it or you run out of yarn.

I would cast on for the little mandarin collar, then cast off and pick up the number of stitches to start the yoke, you could have a random increase of stitches and have a round yoke, make raglan shaping or work out a different shape and increase for the sleeve it in a line where the sleeve seam would be. I haven’t worked out exactly how this last option would work, but I think it could and it would minimize the difference between the shape of your sweater and the original.

Amber from Nakedly Knitting has pointed out a good yarn to use for this coat (here), Noro’s silk garden chunky, color 02. This is a beautiful yarn, and I am sure that the jacket she makes out of it will be georgeous, but whether it is mimicking the coat in the Golden Compass depends on what is the most important thing about the design to you.

If the general colour and shape are most important then this is a good substitute, and you can find garter stitch coat from a book or magazine and make a very good facsimile. But to me the most important thing about this jacket is the texture and specific colours. I love the way the colours slightly clash: the brown and the purple don’t really go with the red (see here), but they come together to make it sing. Noro yarns are beautiful, but they are too harmonious to make this coat the way I envision it. The hint of green in it tones down the red (here); purple makes the red brighter.

I also really like the effect of the areas worked in slightly different thicknesses. It gives the jacket brilliant texture and makes it unusual. I don’t want to make this coat, because I don’t think I can replicate the parts that make it most exciting to me.

On the other hand, the construction is completely unimportant to me. If I were making the coat, I would completely change the construction for various reasons, which I will expound on later.

I have been asked if I could give any advice on recreating Lyra’s red sweater coat from The Golden Compass, and I thought that this might be of interest to more people than just the two of us.

I think there are several big issues with recreating this coat:

  • It is impossible to get a really good close look at it. The pictures online are too small and the film itself moves around too much, and no one wants to wait for the DVD so it could be paused.
  • The yarn/other materials that went into making it will be difficult to come by, and one can’t really be sure what they were. I have read (here) that the coat wasn’t even made out if yarn, but fabric strips, twine etc. This is going to be very difficult to duplicate because costume makers are just better equipped. For all my moaning, I am an amateur in the field of having materials to hand, and I certainly don’t have enough.
  • I am not sure how much yarn this will take, but I know it will be a lot. If anyone actually wants to do this with yarn, I think it will take at least 2-4lbs (1.5-2kg) to make it.

If you still feel the coat is worth pursuing and you think you have enough yarn, you should work out your gauge. I would say that you need super bulky or comparable different yarns held together, and the gauge should be around 7-8 sts to 4inches/10cm.

I will write about potential next steps in the next few days.

If you have any questions at any time, please let me know!

Lyra’s Cap

Lyra’s Cap

I was so smitten by the costumes in the Golden Compass, and for this cap at least, one wonders: how often can something so desirable be achieved so easily? I whipped this up in an evening and thought I would share.

If you are lucky you will even have some yarn in your stash that will work.

Difficulty
Easy

Size
Child [Adult] (shown in adult size)

Finished measurements
9 inches (23cm) [10 inches (25cm)] from top to bottom
8 inches (20cm) [9 inches (23cm)] from front to back

Materials
Rowan Ribbon Twist [70% wool, 25% acrylic, 5% polyamide; 60yd/66m per 100g skein]; color: #121 Rustic; 1 skein
1 set US #17/12mm straight needles
1 US#L/11/8mm crochet hook

Gauge
7.5sts/10 rows = 4 inches / 10cm in stockinette st

Lyra’s cap (back view)

Please see the full pattern here: Lyra’s cap

I have been asked if I will make a pattern for Lyra’s red sweater coat from The Golden Compass (see here), and as promised I have checked my stash, but I just don’t think I can do it. I have pulled out all my yarn in red, pink, burgundy, purple, brown etc. that is thicker than fingering weight and this is all I came up with:

Reddish yarn from my stash

I just don’t think it is enough for that coat. Also, I think a large part of the appeal of that coat comes from the sections of novelty yarns, especially the eyelash yarns (see here), and I have never really liked eyelash yarns, so I don’t have any — though now I think that I just don’t know how to use them to the best effect.

However, if anyone feels that I would be any help in working out a pattern I would be happy to do what I can (later I changed my mind, please see later posts).
I do plan on posting a pattern for Lyra’s cap here later this weekend though, so please check back (see here).

Over the holidays I went to the beautiful and mild west coast, and perhaps most importantly went to two of my favourite yarn shops (in this case Birkeland Bros. and Urban Yarns) and stocked up.

Here is a preview of coming projects I am now fully prepared for:

New stash items

My mother bought this yarn on sale about twenty years ago from a department store that went out of business years ago. It’s beautiful yarn, but I always have a hard time knowing what to do with novelty yarn – but then apparently so does my mother. I knew she always wanted something out of it, and there was not enough for anything larger, so here is a lacey scarf to show it off.

This was intended to be a Christmas present, but it is missing with my luggage, so for now this is all the evidence I have of its existence. I may add more pictures of the scarf being modeled if and when we get it back. I hope you all have been and will continue to enjoy the midwinter festival of your choice and wish you all a happy new year.

Difficulty: intermediate

Size: One size

Finished measurements: 7 inches wide and 60 inches long before blocking

Materials:
Jaeger mohair cotton novelty blend [46% mohair, 44% cotton, 10% nylon; unidentified length per skein]; unidentified color; 4 skeins
1 set US #10.75 /7mm straight needles
Tapestry needle

Note: this yarn is no longer available and it doesn’t have much information on the label. Please see the attached pitures for an idea of the yarn I used.
I suggest you use whatever yarn you fancy in your stash and knit until you like the length or until you run out of yarn.

Guage: 10 sts/13 rows = 4″ in background lace stitch

Pattern stitches:
Background trellis lace: (multiple of 4 plus 2)
Row 1: k1, *ssk, yo 2 times, k2tog*, repeat between * until 1 st from end, k1.
Row 2: p1, *p2, k1, p1*, repeat between * until 1 st from end p1.

Leaf: (worked over 2 background trellis lace pattern repeats)
Row 1: ssk, yo, k2tog, yo, pick up and knit yarn between two stitches from previous row, yo, ssk, yo, k2tog.
Row 2 and all even rows: work as established.
Row 3: ssk, k1, yo, k1, yo, k1, k2tog.
Row 5: ssk, k1, yo, k1, yo, k1, k2tog.
Row 7 and 9: k.
Row 9: yo, k2tog, k5, ssk, yo.
Row 11: k1, yo, k2tog, k3, ssk, yo, k1.
Row 13: k1, yo twice, k2tog, k1, ssk, yo twice, k1.
Row 15: ssk, yo twice, pick up yarn from previous row and knit it, slip 2 stitches as if to knit, k1, k2 pass two slipped stitches over, pick up yarn from previous row and knit it, yo twice, k2tog.
Row 17: ssk, yo twice, k2tog, k3tog, yo twice, k2tog.

Pattern:
CO22.
Work in background lace pattern with leaves randomly placed. I chose to have more leaves at one end.

Finishing:
Weave in ends, block if necessary.

I went to see The Golden Compass this weekend. It has some of the best knitwear I have seen in a movie for a long time. I am so smitten with the costumes Lyra wore. If for no other reason, I recommend that movie to anyone who likes to knit. It was also a good film, but the knitting was what entranced me.

My particular favourites included a red garter stitch sweater coat near the middle, a very cute knitted hat in the shape of a hood, and a pair of mittens worked in a loop stitch.

I was thinking that a hood in that shape attached to a scarf would be wonderful, and the mittens look so warm, of course you couldn’t do anything while you were wearing them, which makes the string holding them through the sleeves handy. I suppose children who are running for their lives don’t need to worry about hurting themselves on playground equipment.

You can see some pictures here.

The other movies that immediately come to mind as having really great knitting are Le Divorce, worn by Kate Hudson’s and Naomi Watts’ characters, and all the Harry Potter movies, mainly worn by Mrs. Weasley, though they do strictly speaking include crochet if I remember correctly.

I bought a second hand knitting machine a few months ago, so I could work more fine garments faster. I thought that because I felt confident hand knitting it would be easy.

It turns out it is broken. This part is supposed to be welded to the plate. It is possible I may be able to get a replacement part.

I am not sure what I was thinking. The whole reason I stopped weaving was because I don’t like sitting in an upright chair or sitting on a bench while making something.

I love hand knitting; it has to be one of my favourite things to do, but I confess the siren call of endless swaths of stocking stitch in no time was too strong. I have at least two projects sitting in my knitting basket because I have hit an endless section of right side knit and wrong side purl.

If I ever manage to get the knitting machine going, I will celebrate by making myself a wonderful and cozy kimono in stocking stitch to lounge around in. it should be a good first project as they can be entirely made from rectangles. Until then I may get a few rows done on this shawl: Leaves and Waves by Pat Coyle from Knitty, fall 2004. it’s beautiful. My version is blue on brown, but I despair of ever getting it done because I am in an interminable stocking stitch section.

I recently had a question about how I designed the short row shaping on my Urban Rustic Gloves. Here is the method I followed:

  1. Measure your hand, this includes the length of your hand from the base of your fingers to wrist, the length of all your fingers, the circumference of your hand at the palm, at the base of your thumb, at your wrist and all your fingers. I suggest you trace around your hand and write all the measurements in.
  2. Work out the number of rows you will need to go around the palm of your hand and mark the number on graph paper with each square representing one stitch. You may need to tape two or more pieces together. You will still need several rows of graph paper on each side of the palm.
  3. Work out how many stitches you will need to go around your palm at the base of your thumb and divide this number by two; add those rows to the two sides of your graph. This is the number of rows you will need to add using short rows for your thumb gusset.
  4. Work out the number of rows you will need to go around your wrist, subtract this number from the number of rows you needed to go around your palm. Round this number to make it even. This number divided by two is the number of short rows you will need between the base of your fingers and your wrist.
  5. Start shading in sets of two rows on your graph paper, starting with odd numbered rows, to place your short rows, until you have the right number of short rows. I staggered the length of these rows to make the shaping gradual; I suggest three lengths of rows alternately spaced to get even shaping.
  6. For the thumb gusset, divide the number of stitches by the number of rows, this will give you the number of stitches difference you need between each short row.
  7. To shape the ends of the fingers use one set of short rows each second row, ending approximately two stitches from the end. The first and last rows of the finger must not be short rows.

Note: Fudge the math anywhere you need to to make the pattern work. Knitting is stretchy and it pulls in a bit too. It took me a lot of attempts before I got it right.

If you have any questions, I would be happy to try to help.

Russian Princess in Exile

Download the pattern here

The Russian émigrés were so influential after they fled the revolution. They brought different perspectives and new fashions west and east and helped people learn to think in a new way. They also knew a thing or two about how to stay warm. This hat would not be for those who brought their fortune with them – leave the fox and mink for them; this is for those who made it out with their lives and had to make a life how they could that meant wearing wool, but wearing it like a princess, which is what I suggest you should do too.

DIFFICULTY: Intermediate

SIZE: M[L] (shown in size L)

FINISHED MEASUREMENTS:
Around head: 20[24] inches
Crown to brim: 8[10] inches

MATERIALS:
Rowan Big Wool [100% wool; 87yd/80m per 100g skein]; color: Best Brown; 1[2] skeins
1 set US #17/12mm straight needles
Tapestry needle

GAUGE:
7.5 sts/10 rows = 4″ in stockinette stitch

ABBREVIATIONS:
C8B: put next 4 sts on cable needle and put at back of work, K4, then K4 from cable needle
C8F: put next 4 sts on cable needle and put at front of work, K4, then K4 from cable needle

PATTERN
All sizes:
CO50[62], turn.
Row 1: K1, *C8B, K4*, repeat between * 3[4]times, K1.
Row 2 and all wrong side rows: P.
Row 3-5: K.
Row 7: K5, *C8F, K4*, repeat between * 3[4]times, K1.

Size M only:
Row 9 (dec row): K1, * put 4 sts on cable needle and hold to back as if to C8B, k2tog 2 times, k2tog 2 times from cable needle, K4*, repeat between * 3 times, K1 (34 sts).
Rows 11-13: work even.
Row 15 (dec row): K1, *K2, put 4sts on cable needle and put to front of work as if to C8F, k2tog, k2tog 2 times from cable needle*, repeat between * 3 times, K1 (22 sts).
Row 16 (dec row): P3 together 7 times, P1 (8 sts).

Size L only:
Repeat Rows 1-5.
Row 15 (dec row): K1, *K4, put 4 sts on cable needle and hold to front as if to C8F, k2tog 2 times, k2tog 2 times from cable needle*, repeat between * 4 times, K1 (42 sts).
Rows 17-19: work even.
Row 21 (dec row): K1, *put 4sts on cable needle and put to back of work as if to C8B, k2tog, k2tog 2 times from cable needle, K2*, repeat between * 4 times, K1 (27 sts).
Row 22 (dec row): P3 together 9 times (9 sts).

FINISHING:
Draw end of yarn through remaining sts, draw tight to close the crown.
Using tapestry needle sew the seam from the brim to the crown with mattress stitch; weave in loose ends.
Photo credit: Jonathan Cross

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