Thursday, June 28, 2007

And Here it is...

...the Lorna Lace shawl. I finally got it blocked and photos taken. I could have knitted it longer. My daughter just found another ball of the yarn. Oh well, it's long enough. I'll save the left overs and incorporate them into something else. The pattern in the shawl is adapted from Sharon Miller's Heirloom Knitting, on pages 111 and 112. The pattern is basically the same except for knitting it in stocking stitch rather than garter stitch. The edging is from The Best of Knitter's Magazine: Shawls and Scarves, page 24. It is the edging for the Christening Chrysalis; again the border was converted from garter stitch to stocking stitch.

This is only the second project that I have made from Lorna's yarn. The first was a pair of socks for someone that bought the yarn and wanted the socks knit on commission. The LYS owner was originally going to knit them, but had conflicts with time. The woman was very ill and there was some discussion that she might not live long enough for her to finish them. I volunteered even though I thoroughly dislike the yarn. I ended up not charging her anything because of her illness and considered it "a random act of kindness." I don't do too many of them.

The yarn for the shawl continues to bleed even after several washings (with vinegar). The colors are beautiful, and it has a lovely sheen to it, but I still don't like knitting with it. But alas rather than it continuing to be a thorn in my side, I decided to just knit something with it. Here is a better detail of the pattern

Knitting this pattern in stocking rather than garter stitch would be ideal for a beginning knitter since one does not have to deal with doing the y/o on the reverse side, but rather purls the even rows.

So what to do next? Maybe I ought to finish up the summer sweater I have started and in between knit on the scarf I talked about the other day.
"Knit on!"

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Oooch, oooch, ouch!

I'm going to whine a bit. My right thumb hurts, my back aches, it's been humid and hot outside and it seems as if all the allergens in the world are holding their annual convention in our backyard. Just about each day that entity that supposedly speaks for the weather forecasts showers; all we get, however, is five minutes of dark sky and then the sun comes out again. And it doesn't seem to cool down much over night. (I'm complaining about the heat and the air conditioning is working and no longer work in a non-air conditioned environment since retirement. My working life was strange: The more education I got, the higher the pay, the lousier the working environment became. Go figure! OK enough qvetsching and on to knitting.

Rectangle Lorna's Lace Shawl: Despite my aching back I finally got the rectangle shawl blocked. It should be dry by the time I go to bed which is a good thing since I would have to sleep in my chair, and my chair is reserved for my morning nap. So I should have pictures tomorrow.

In the meantime, I have started a new scarf. The yarn is fingering weight Brown Sheep wool. I got a couple of cones of it some time ago. It has an oatmeal coloring and looks like it is the natural color of the fleece. It's a pretty rugged wool and should make a warm scarf for someone despite the lace pattern. I found the pattern through . This URL leads you to all kinds of free patterns for shawls and scarfs found on the Internet. I was surprised it even has the link for my Amethyst shawl. The basic pattern for the shawl comes from , or Dipsy Doodle, an Austrian who writes his or her blog in English. I haven't roamed through the blog yet, but it looks interesting enough that I am going to go back to visit when I have a new mouse for my computer (the reason for my sore thumb). I have killed two "mieces." in the last few days. It's time to buy a new one for my lap top.
I changed the pattern a little, instead of putting fringe on it, I have added a garter stitch border. I have also added an extra cable pattern to the left hand side of the shawl. The actual pattern repeat starts with the cable and ends with the lace pattern. I like things more symmetrical. I had knitted two repeats and decided I could not live without adding the cable at the left side of the shawl. As you can see I also have added a 6-stitch garter border and a selvage stitch to each side. Another thing I found out is I have difficulty following written instructions . And, thus, I frogged three times. The first time because I made a mistake (and, of course, attributed it to a problem with the pattern); the second time was also because I made mistakes and the third one was because I didn't like it without the cable on the left side.

Wonder of wonders once I charted out the pattern, all of a sudden the pattern was correct. Don't you just hate that? I really ought to buy myself a charting program one of these days, preferably one that translates text into symbols.

Well it's after 9 p.m. The chickens should have put themselves to bed by now, so I need to go and close the coop door on them. So I can settle in and watch the rest of Ghost Hunters.

"Knit on!"

Monday, June 25, 2007

Angie and I went "Garage Saling" this past Saturday. The sides of our dirt roads are loaded with blooming milkweed. One of the plants was particularly beautiful. So here's a picture. At the garage sales, I found a couple of old cook books and an embroidery catalogue from Brainerd & Armstrong Company, New London, Connecticut dated 1911. It is basically a catalogue listing all their embroidery items for sale with some pages of instructions on various embroidery techniques. It also has some beautiful color plates. I also found a solid rocking chair for $20. Thanks, Angie, for lugging it into the car and out of it. I don't go to garage sales very often, but it was a wonderful sunny day with temperatures in the low 70s, so we had lots of fun.

On the subject of knitting, I had some yarn left over from the socks I knit recently; so the rest of it was turned into two sets of wrist warmers. One of the sets (top photo) is my "own" design, purl 2, knit 4 and then making a right leaning cable from the K4 with 3 rows in between. The bottom photo was adapted from Piecework, March/April 2006 issue. The basic pattern is: Row 1 - *P1. sl 1. k1, psso, k3, yo, k1, yo, k3, k2tog* repeat from *to end. Row 2 - *P1, k11; rep from *to end. The article is by Nancy Bush. Her cuffs are made in marvelous color combinations. Piecework is an Interweave publication and is well worth the price.

The rectangular shawl is also finished. It's soaking right now. I am always amazed how much Lorna's Lace yarn bleeds. I hope to be able to block it tomorrow. Then the only thing I have left to do for this year's fiber fetivals is blocking the outer border of the Minettara shaw. Yeah!
"Knit on!"

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Sock Knitting 101

I just finished reading a blog where the writer mentioned using sock knitting software. I decided that maybe I ought to explain my method. The above pair of socks is not an example of a beginner's project, but I did use the criteria stated below. I attempted to learn making two socks at the same time on circular needles with this project. I gave it up after the first color change and haven't gone back to that method since then. These socks were made of Koolaid dyed yarn. At the time my daughter learned to dye and dyed small samples of hand spun yarn. The colors changed every 4 rows.

Sock Knitting 101:
My "software" actually could better be described as "hardware" since all I use is a measuring tape, a pencil and an old envelope or other scrap of paper. So here follows Renate's generic sock pattern. This assumes you know how to cast on, divide stitches over 4 needles, join stitches, make a heel, gussets and toes. I recommend using the 5 needle sets--four for holding stitches and the fifth for knitting. Using 5 needles rather than dividing stitches onto three needles allows less stress on the stitches and one can thus avoid the "ladders" in knitting that so many knitters complain about.

I use this model for all socks shorter than knee high socks.

Preparation for knitting the sock:
1. Measure circumference just above ankle.
2. Measure foot from back of heel to longest toe.
3. Measure height of heel.
4. Use smaller needles than suggested for yarn. The tighter the stitch, the longer the socks last.
5. Make a small gauge swatch. Don't bother making it in the round. I usually just make a stocking stitch swatch which will give you the no. of stitches per inch. Once you have made a swatch, you'll probably never will have to make another one as long you use the same weight of yarn and the same needles.

Knitting a sock:
1. Multiply no. of stitches per inch x ankle circumference and cast on that many stitches, divide no. of stitches onto four double pointed needles, join and knit 2 inches in k1p1, or k2p2 or any combination thereof. Then knit leg to whatever length you want it.

When you have reached the length you want, divide stitches into half. Knit over one-half of stitches for heel flap.

Heel flap: 1 selvage stitch, 2 or 3 stitches in garter for nice looking edge (if you want), knit 1, slip 1 to last 3/4 stitches with 2-3 stitches garter, 1 selvage stitch. Knit back and forth to height of heel measurement. Then turn heel by mentally dividing stitches into thirds.

Turning heel: Knit 2 thirds of stitches. Turn and purl back two thirds of stitches, less one. Purl last stitch of second third together with first stitch of third third, purl one more stitch and turn. Knit back and knit last stitch of middle third together with first stitch of last third, Knit 1, turn. Purl row, knit row decreasing always 1 stitch until all stitches of first and third third have been used up. The last row in the heel turn will be a knit row.
An example for turning a heel would be: You cast on 60 stitches; therefore you would knit heel over 30 stitches. 30 stitches divided into thirds = 10 stitches.
Row 1: Knit 20 stitches, turn
Row 2: Purl 9 stitches, purl 2 together, purl one stitch and turn
Row 3: Knit 10, ssk, k1, turn
Row 4: Purl to last stitch before gap created by turning, p2tg, p1, turn
keep repeating this process until all side stitches have been used up.
If you end up with an uneven no. of stitches when dividing heel stitches into thirds, add the odd stitch to the middle third.
Your last row will be a knit row which will allow you to pick up the stitches on the side for the gusset.
Actually, any type of heel can be used, including short-row heels.

Gusset: When you get to end, pick up selvage stitches, knit stitches of needles 2 and 3 and pick up stitches on other side of heel flap. Then make gusset.

Foot: Knit until sock measures length of foot measurement minus 1-1/2 to 2 inches, depending on how long your toes are, then make toes. (Personally, I knit until the foot covers my little toe and then start the toe decrease.)

Resources: Charlene Schurch's Sensational Socks is an excellent sock book since it gives detailed instructions on sock sizes and shoe sizes and widths. But the above "recipe" is about all you need for knitting any sock, unless you want to make knee socks or my grandmother's dreaded stockings I had to wear as a child. Knit with love, but dreaded because they were soooooo itchy.

If you have a particular design in mind, you may have to adjust the no. of stitches you cast on, so the pattern will fit into the no. of stitches. A couple of stitches more or less won't hurt anything.

I would appreciate feed back whether or not these instructions are helpful. What would you change in the instructions, etc. etc.

"Knit on!"

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Teapot Cozy Anyone?

I was finally going to get started with my annual hats for the local elementary school. So, of course, I started out with a hat pattern, a proper hat pattern found on the Internet. Even though I used the smallest size of the pattern, the hat morphed into something rather large. In fact, large enough to fit over one of those beehive hairdos, or a rather large Afro, of which some of us have "fond" or maybe even "nostalgic" memories. It was even too large for my big head. So I undid the border and one of the pattern repeats, added a small border to it and cast off once again. Now it was only too big in circumference. In other words my eyes were no longer covered, but I could still twirl it around without messing up my hairdo. What to do? And then The Kid, aka dearest youngest daughter, had a revelation: a teapot cozy! Of course! It fit perfectly. So instead of knitting a hat, I now have a cozy for my teapot.
In defense of the pattern, the achieved size may have had something to do with the yarn I chose; although I made a swatch and adjusted the pattern accordingly. How often do I swatch, you ask? "Hardly ever," I say. So the moral of the story is? Make another one with the correct yarn weight and needles.
"Knit on!"

Friday, June 15, 2007

"....four hundred miles north of everywhere"

Sometimes I ask myself why I have chosen to live “four hundred miles north of everywhere” (Lilian Jackson Braun, The Cat Who Sang for the Birds). It is inconvenient. No Symphony, no Opera, no Cinema, no decent mid-range restaurants yet alone high class ones, no large Supermarket. Only the local diner which was sold last year and has gone from having excellent home made diner food and pies to being run by an outsider from the big city who hasn’t got a clue as to service or good food. Now, only the tourists seem to hang out there; no locals to be seen. And, of course, a couple of bars. Then I went outside this morning to let out the chickens. And there was a black-capped chickadee singing his heart out and a short time later an Eastern Phoebe chimed in. And the Baltimore Oriole decided to join in with his usual racket. And then I knew once again why I live "four hundred miles north of everywhere."

Tada! Socks!

The socks are finished. That makes the second pair of socks I have knit for myself in the last two months. I can hardy believe it. The colorway does not match in the two socks. I decided it was an impossible task since this was a hand-dyed, drop-spindle spun Polwarth yarn. But I love the hues. Besides it reminded me of the following poem:

Warning - When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple
By Jenny Joseph
When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple
with a red hat that doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
and satin candles, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired
and gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
and run my stick along the public railings
and make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
and pick the flowers in other people's gardens
and learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
and eat three pounds of sausages at a go
or only bread and pickles for a week
and hoard pens and pencils and beer nuts and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
and pay our rent and not swear in the street
and set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

"Knit on!"

Monday, June 11, 2007

Finished, finito, finis!

The cobweb weight shawl/scarf is finished. The color-way, if I say so myself, is stunning. I can say that because this knitter had nothing to do with the making of the yarn. The basis for the pattern came from The yarn was purchased at the 2006 Michigan Fiber Fest from Skaska Designs. It is 100% Merino. Unfortunately Skaska Designs does not list prices or how to purchase from them via the Internet other than sending an e-mail to them. Warning: If you were to knit this shawl be prepared for a lot of boredom.

Update to yesterday’s blog: The pattern is from the Summer 2007 issue of Spin-Off magazine. The leg pattern is a modified basket-weave. Rows 1 and 2 – K3, P3, K1; Rows 3 and 4 – P2, K4. That’s it folks! If I were to use the pattern again, I would carry the pattern on the top part of the foot and plain stockinette stitch for the toes only rather than the whole foot.

"Knit on!"

Sunday, June 10, 2007

I've started to knit myself a pair of socks from the yarn my daughter has gifted to me. The roving is Polwarth, also known as Falkland. She died the roving and then spun it with one of her drop spindles. I think the yarn is gorgeous and in many ways reminds me of the Fall leaves in Northern Michigan.
I "borrowed" the quiz "What Color is your brain" from another blog. The results describe me pretty accurately.
Knit on!"

At work or in school: I work best by myself. I like to focus on my ideas until my desire for understanding is satisfied. I am easily bored if the subject holds no interest to me. Sometimes, it is hard for me to set priorities because so many things are of interest.
With friends: I may seem reserved. Although my thoughts and feelings run deep, I am uneasy with frequent displays of emotion. I enjoy people who are interesting and of high integrity.
With family: I am probably seen as a loner because I like a lot of private time to think. Sometimes, I find family activities boring and have difficulty following family rules that don't make sense to me. I show love by spending time with my family and sharing ideas and interests.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Look at me, please...

...I have whiskers. This is the surprise chicken that came with the batch we ordered. She has a bunch off fluff on each side of the mouth. I can't wait to have her become a full grown pullet, so I can figure out what type it is. We did lose one of the chicks; the one that kept slipping through the chain link fence became someone's snack. She wasn't big enough yet to be a full dinner course.

Here is an interesting item, a knitted house. It would not do for Michigan weather, but it's fun to look at the creativity.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Cherry Tree vs. Knit Picks Yarn

A nearby yarn store had 33% off on Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn. So I bought a skein to support the local economy. The swatch on the right is the Cherry Tree yarn and the left Knit Picks Sweat Pea yarn. For those of you who read my blog regularly, the Knit Picks yarn is the same as I used on the clapotis. Both swatches were knitted on 2.0 mm needles. The swatches are 20 stitches x 26 rows. The Cherry Tree yarn is slightly thicker and has more of a twist than the Knit Picks yarn. If I were to use the Knit Picks yarn, I would use 1.5 mm or 1.25 mm needles rather than 2.0 mm. Since I am not very hard on socks, the Knit Picks yarn would be fine for me, but would not be suitable for my daughter. She murders socks, so a sturdier yarn is more desirable. At the regular price of $22 per skein, the Cherry Tree yarn is somewhat pricey as far as I am concerned; however at 33% off (about $15 per skein) it is an excellent buy. So Angie, here comes a pair of socks for you.
In other knitting news, the multicolor shawl/scarf is done. I still need to wash and block it, but it will have to wait until tomorrow. I have one heck of a Migraine today and so far my Migraine meds only keep it at bay temporarily.
"Knit on!"

Tuesday, June 5, 2007's cold outside

It's only in the 50s today and the sky is overcast. We've finally had some rain over the past two days.

Update on Opal yarn: I have heard from Yarns International. They will carry the Rain forest II and III and the Hundertwasser Cotton and Wool. Now we need to see what their pricing structure will be.

Progress Reports:

Knitting-wise I have nothing to show, so I thought I'd show a photo of the tree frog which had plastered itself to the front screen door last summer. It's not the best of pics. But considering I have a simple digital camera and the glass in the screen door was dirty and it was night, it'll do.

The body of the scarf I've been working on is finished. I've started the border, but, of course, that is always what takes the longest. I think I'm tempting the gods; hopefully, there is enough yarn left for the border I have chosen.

I still haven't found the yarn to finish the baby blanket. If I don't locate it by tomorrow, I'll just have to go the the yarn store and get more. My DD has promised to help me block the scarf/shawl knit with the variegated cobweb yarn tonight, so I should have a photo pretty soon. Then I have to figure out how to finish blocking the Niebling lace. That will finish the projects for the year which are going up for sale. There are four of us who have a small informal cooperative called "Dances with Wool." We usually go to the major fiber exhibitions in Michigan. I am not a sales person at heart, so I usually leave it up to the others to do that part, and I just pay my 15%. After I am finished with the shawls and the baby blanket, I will go back to the Dale of Norway sweater and decide what to do with the Stahman Faroese Shawl that I've lost interest in.

I still have to plant five currant bushes. The gooseberries looked very promising this year with much fruit on them--that is, until the deer ate all the unripe fruit. So now we have 6 gooseberry bushes and no gooseberries. Will have to figure out a way to keep the deer at bay next year. No I don't have a shot gun.

"Knit on!"

Friday, June 1, 2007

My attempt at being a critic!

I watched an interesting show last night on BBC America: “The Trial of Tony Blair.” It was actually interesting enough for me to put down my knitting—imagine that.

BBC America advertised the show as follows:
"In the wake of Tony Blair’s recent announcement that he is to stand down as British Prime Minister, BBC AMERICA presents a fictional satire of one of the most powerful and controversial figures on the world’s political stage. The year is 2010, and Blair is giving his last ministerial broadcast, having finally handed over the reins of power to his deputy, Gordon Brown. On the other side of the Atlantic, President Hillary Clinton is campaigning for her second term at the White House, and former President Bush is in rehab."

If you have a chance, you may want to have a look at it if it is re-aired.

In the end, Prime Minister Blair, after he has resigned, is indicted as a war criminal while George Bush cannot be indicted since the US did not sign on to the “War Criminals Act.” What specifically stood out for me was the tremendous self-absorption and egotism of PM Blair which probably applies to many if not most politicians.

No knit content today. But, as always, "knit on."