Friday, 27 February 2009

The funny thing about colour

So there I was, yesterday, working on a colour swatch, and feeling good and yet not quite confident about where I was going, when all of a sudden the road map became very very clear.

I had my head wrapped in the green, when I should have had my head wrapped in the brown. The brown was wrong. I've replaced the brown with a heathered grey. The whole project just popped to life in those very neutral background shades. All my foreground colours work, and work without incident and without needing to debate or decide. They all just work. It all just works.

Of course the ribbing I worked up in the brown is now toast, but oh well, it was just a few hours work. No biggie. I guess there will be a brown felted bag in my future. Or brown felted slippers. I think I have that fibre trends felted clog pattern round here somewhere.

I'll be using far more of the cream than in my original plan, and I am going to have to find another skein of walnut (I am prepared for walnut to be very hard to find) but this is the right way to move, the right combination.

I don't mind not knowing exactly where I am going. I don't need to know every step along the way to feel comfortable with the journey. I kind of enjoy changing with the challenges I face but some things, you really have to know before you start. In order to be sure that you are going on the trip you mean to be on, you really ought to know the direction you intend to go. The colour problem, was a trip I needed to take. Too many options were like too many directions to travel. I did a little survey down each path, and all of a sudden I knew which map of colours was right for where I hoped to go.

I may not have all the area charted out before me, but just like the old map of North America, I don't have to have everything charted. And incomplete map doesn't change that something is out there waiting for me to discover it for my very own.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Tha'ts the plan.

I think I have the plan for the Fair Isle vest all worked out. I have found shades and tones I am comfortable with and darn it, I'm not going to change it now. Maybe....

So this is the pattern part of the plan. The repeating lines of trees separated by two rows of small perrie patterns are from Sheila McGregor's "Traditional Fair Isle Knitting". All the yarn is Cascade 220, a completely non-traditional yarn. The most used colour of the vest will be 8686 brown. The second brown is, I think, called Walnut, but I can't read the number on the band. Sorry. I have only 1 skein of walnut, so I will be using two rows only between the brown background shade and the cream. The cream is the last background shade, colour 8010, IIRC.

The rust seen in the diagram is colour 2435 and is the only rust used for an accent.

The current plan for greens is to use 2429 Ireland green for all the trees and green parts of the perrie patterns as you can see. I do have some 9338 Lichen that I might use to provide the pattern a little more depth. I'm not completely sure. If I do that, the brighter green Ireland will be used in the 8686 brown areas, but I'd switch to the more subtle 9338 Lichen on the second line of the walnut, and use it through the cream yarn. Hmmm...(picture the little wheels of my brain whirling dervishly)

This is the most true picture of the colours of the yarns, so you can see what I mean. Looking at this picture is almost making my mind up for me. I really like the way the lichen looks against the cream and the walnut and in combination with the brown too.

I'm almost less sure of using the Ireland at all. From this picture you might think the Ireland is a little too much, a little jarring, but in front of me, the softer lichen gets lost in the solidity of the brown. (That was my experience with the Christmas hats) Maybe I'll do a little wee swatch just to confirm these colour meanderings...

Which is exactly what my colour work mentor keeps advising me to do.

Onward I go.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Worst Jobs in History

One of the programs I try to catch whenever it airs is Worst Jobs in History airing on the History Channel. Host Tony Robinson learns and teaches us about worst jobs through the ages.

I get a big kick out of Tony Robinson and his reaction to some of these jobs. He can't hide his revulsion to some of the things he is doing and he has an imitable way with words. That is what caught my ear this morning. His way with words.

This morning they were talking about Elizabethan jobs. They discussed being a pin maker, and showed how those fanciful Elizabethan ruffs were held together by a myriad of straight pins. (The ancient Mycenaean version of the safety pin had long been forgotten by Europe.) He talked about being an actor who played female roles in Elizabethan times (it was illegal for a female to act on stage). And they showed how a woad dyer dyed with woad.

What caught my ear was Tony's description of woad dying being incredibly smelly. He said (loosely quoted) it smelled like rotten cabbages and fermenting sewage and noted that there were laws in place to make dyeing happen outside the city.

It occurred to me this morning just how much I learn from this show about dyeing and fulling and how to handle wool. Without even thinking about it, I could picture the episode he featured the purple makers, and the absolutely unforgettable episode he demonstrated fulling. I know there are more bits and pieces of dyers lore.

If you are looking for a fun show, and wouldn't mind the side benefit of learning some things about our fibery world, look for 'Worst Jobs in History' For more of the inimitable Tony Robinson, look for 'Tony's Law', a look at the evolution of law through 2000 years of British history.

This guy makes the dullest stuff interesting.

PS. The new bed is lovely. So lovely that all night I kept waking up thinking, 'man this is nice.' I'll sleep better tonite.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

The things I do for sanity

A couple weeks ago some online buddies and I were having a conversation about household space and how people come by their concept of what size home we need to have to feel comfortable. It was an interesting discussion. It seems our comfort adapts to whatever space we have.

I agree with this. I also disagree with this. Sort of. I have found that no matter how much space we have, it fills to capacity, and then spills over just a little. It has happened with kitchen cupboards, with bookcases, with drawer space in my bedroom.

It is absolutely no surprise that it happens with yarn. I go through my yarn stash on a regular basis, just for the fun of it, so the yarn gets shifted and moved and tidied. Sometimes I find just a little more room to store a yarn that was just hanging around with no particular place to be. Going through the stash is not just fun, it keeps the stash reasonably well managed and semi tidy.

This is not the case for other spaces in my house. They are a whole lot less fun to go through and tidy. Going through my pantry cabinets in the kitchen and finding a single can of something I haven't used since 1992 does not give me the same sort of joy that finding a yarn I haven't worked with since 1992 does. Reorganizing the deep freeze just never turned me on.

Today, my task will be deeper and darker. We are getting a new mattress and it ought to be delivered today. I'm looking forward to that part, but all the stuff I have to do before it arrives, is the part that fills me with horror.

Its a unhealthy year since the bedroom had a good really deep deep clean. It is much much longer since our closets have had a good go through. Dressers too have become spaces filled with 'stuff' rather than clothing and somehow, even though we turn worn things to rags on a regular basis, there isn't room in the closets for everything we own. There always seems to be spillage when all the laundry is done.

When that horror is done, I have to look under the bed.

The only thing that is keeping me cheerful is that I have a new mattress to look forward to and I take comfort in knowing when it is tidied, folded organized and cleaned, everything will fit and there will be space to spare.

I'm putting on the coffee, I'm girding my loins. Let's get this show on the road. There might be space to spare.

Space to spare. Wonder what I can do with it?

Monday, 23 February 2009

Busy as a Busy Bee

When I travel to Saskatchewan, to stay alert while driving, I sing along to whatever CD I am playing. Its not pretty but I get there safe. I played a lot of Bette Midler the last trip, and Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy popped into my head this morning when I thought over my work of the last few days. I have been busy, and no I did not do any housework. I was too sick for housework, just not too sick to knit!

I finished the socks on Friday with plenty of time to spare. After messing up a couple of rows on my Socks That Rock shawl project,I decided to knit something simpler. But not a sock.

When I was in Saskatoon, my youngest sister gave me a skein of yarn from a friend of hers. Or a friend of a friend. I forget. No matter. Its a lovely artisanal alpaca, mohair and silk blend from Sundog Alpacas. And it feels just like it looks, soft and shiny. It glistens as it runs through your fingers. Quite impressive. They don't seem to have the yarn on their website though it may be available at the Saskatoon farmers market. If you ever come across a local Alpaca grower's yarn, give it a try. There are some delightful artisanal yarns out there.The pattern is the Vicuna Scarf from 101 Luxury One Skein Wonders (Did I mention how much I like this book?). Its a nice little pattern for a small skein of something so special. I am going to rip it out and redo though. I'm working on a 4 mm needle and the fabric is stiffer than this yarn deserves. I'm going to rip it back and move up to at least a 5.5 mm needle to give it a softer drape, something much more suited to this yarn.

By By Sunday, I was feeling so much better, that I decided to start on Mr. Needles vest. I worked up to the ribbing, knit the first two rows and now I am at the point where the patterning can start. I'm not going to start that till I have a day off and plenty of time to work through whatever little problems pop up.

It has just occurred to me that but for the socks starting things off, this a distressingly brown bunch of things to work on. Here let me fix that for you. These are some socks that I cast on. No point having empty needles. The yarn is Arequippa Sock yarn, a really nice alpaca blend. Oh dear, I see some brown blended in. Let me fix that.

There. A shot of red and white Cloud Cotton, for the next big thing. I plan to zoom through Mr. Needles vest, just to get to work with this dense rich red.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Socks Are a Good Thing

I'm not about to tell you how much I love socks, but once again socks saved my day. About 3 I started to feel like a sickly human instead of a lump of clay, so I got up and knit for a while. I put heels to a pair of socks I had on the needles for a while. (Excuse the chapped hairy legs. It's winter and it's Canada. It's cold up here.) I did the toe of another pair, and then I stopped to look around to see what to do next.

I could have tried another on-going project, but everything I have on my other needles needs brain power. I had some brain power, but I couldn't vouch for it's quality or its ability to catch errors. I decided to stay with socks.

I also needed to do something that would make me feel really good, like completing a project sort of good. With those two restrictions, I headed right for Bit Fabel. During a restocking of sock yarn a couple of weeks ago, some turquoise Big Fabel happened to fall into my hands. I had looked at its warm rich colours, a blend of turquoise, black, denim and a shot of green before and though it was nice, it had never really become something I just had to have.

Big Fabel, I am heartily sorry for not loving you sooner, for not picking up on your magic colours before. Right there before my eyes, right there in my hands, magic happened and kept on happening. The biggest magic is that this sock is not just turquoise. Its hardly turqoise at all. The tiny bit of denim I saw, is only an accent to a soft lavender. And the shot of green? The bright shot of green is only an addendum to the rich forest teal green. How is it that all I could see was the turquoise which, though strong, is an accent colour? How could I catch the green accent and the blue accent and miss the whole heart of the yarn?

But I did. Big Fabel made a lovely pair of lavender socks with warm greens and shots of turquoise to accent. Magic happened on my needles but all I did was knit. If finding something completely different than what I expected isn't magic, I don't know what is.

There is a parable for life in this yarn. What you see first is flash and show. Under the flash and show is the heart of the matter, and within that heart lies beauty.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Days of not knitting content

I'm late this morning, but it's because I only just got up. Since my usual rising time is early, and this is not so early, you guessed it, I am sick. Sicker than a dog actually, and I'm feeling whiny and feeble and I want my mummy.

If the headache goes away, I'll try to knit, but it's going to be simple. I'll probably work on a sock, maybe do a heel or two but there will be no steeking, no felting, no working on the bag, or planning the sweater. If I feel better later, I'll try plain forgiving knitting.

Maybe I'll set up my dvd player, crawl back to bed and watch Mr. Bean all day. It ought to be a good day for that.

Then again, I might just crawl back to bed and think about knitting. This thinking thing is taking a lot of effort.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Onwards to yet another new thing

I've finished knitting my practise Fair Isle piece this morning. The dimensions currently are 14 inches tall by 11.5 inches wide, which, when felted, ought to be just about right. Unless it only shrinks in width. If I lose too much width, there may yet be some minor surgery.

I've one more step before I do the felting though. I wanted to use this piece to practise steeking. I'm going to work on that this evening. Any good bag needs some pockets for keys, phones, and the little things you need access to fast and frequently. I plan to make a steek along one side to insert a pocket. I'm not going to make it straight along the rows, though. I want to see what happens if I do the steek at an angle. I'd like to see how sturdy it is compared to an afterthought pocket, which is usually inserted along the straight line of stitches. If it produces a sturdy enough edging, it may be something I'll use on the upcoming vest.

Plans are moving along on the vest. I'm playing with a traditional palette but a nontraditional yarn. I'm doing this partly because of what is available, and partly because I managed to find an acceptable range of colours. I've got 3 soft almost natural colours for the background and 2 or 3 for the foreground. The 'or 3' part is in case I need a little more pop in the colours. I don't think I will know that until I am actively working it up.

So, I have the gauge figured out, I know the colour progressions to aim for, and I know what size I need to knit to fit the man. All I need to do is sit down and do a little math, to make sure that the designs are going to fit reasonably well onto the stitch count I need, and away I go.

Sounds easy, but I am expecting some challenging knitting ahead. It's just what happens when a thing sounds easy.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Baby Showers

It's a long time since I was at a baby shower. Things have changed and they haven't changed at all. Grandmothers still end up doing silly things. Baby still ends up with loot.There are irregular sitings of a lone male guest who is way more interested in hockey than babies, and the guest of honour, Baby Finley. She slept through all but the very beginning and very end of the shower, completely ignoring the proceedings, as babies most often do. This is the only shot I have where she was awake. Just after this she passed out on her paternal grandma's shoulder, and slept despite being passed round to all and sundry.

Finley is the luckiest of little girls. She is a first. She is the first grandchild on both sides, she is the first great grandchild on all sides.

These, from right to left, are Baby Finley's Grandmothers, and Great Grandmothers. Her other Great Grandmother could not attend, but scored the biggest squeals of joy from Finley's mum with her gift.

Along with these, there were great aunts and cousins and cousins once or twice removed galore. Lucky little Finley is surrounded by many strong and delightful women. It bodes very, very well for her future.

As for me, it was a grand weekend. I walked a sister in law through how to knit socks, knit a little on several projects for an accumulated amount of knitting that looks like bupkus but isn't, talked a lot, slept hardly at all. Today I am going to rest a little, go to knit with friends later, and cook a nice homey meal. Some soup, or stew, something hardy and restorative that won't take my full attention, so I can knit and contemplate just why I was compelled to start a new project this morning, when I have 832 on my needles already.

Yup, for no reason at all, except I love the yarn, I started a new project this morning, a Clapotis scarf, out of one of the new Berrocco yarns, Bonsai Colors. If heaven was a yarn, this yarn might just be it.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Traveling this weekend

I'm traveling this weekend to get to the baby shower where the Baby Surprise sweater will be revealed. I hope Finley's mum likes it.

I'm planning to leave around lunch time, but I don't know. A lot of decisions need to happen before I get there. I'll be gone for 4 days visiting with my mom and dad and sisters, so I'll need a lot of knitting. And it is going to have to be simple knitting. A LOT of simple knitting. Simple knitting while talking to sisters is just about as good as it gets.

I will be questioning mum about washing fleeces. There must be something she recalls about fleece washing seeing as how grandma knit and spun, even though I did not know this till very recently.

So socks present themselves as ever, but what about when I am a little tired of socks? I know, I know, but it might happen. It would be wonderful to take along the Fair Isle vest colours to swatch those up to see if I am thinking right about the colour changes, but it's a lot of yarn to carry. I could take along the bag swatch project but again, that's a lot of skeins of yarn.

I looked into the workbag and found something else. I started this before Christmas, worked out the pattern of Purposeful HolesTM and then put a few stitches on my needles only to leave it sit since the holidays. In a lot of ways, this little shawl project is as simple as it gets. Its all stockinette (it shows off the marvelous colours), there are stitches added every second row (the knit side rows) at the outer edges and at the centre spine. That is it. Or it will be, till I start on the border edging. The edging is going to be a little more open, but airier to complement the simplicity of the body of the shawl. A simple garter lace edging, or perhaps a cobweb frill from Barbra Walker's second treasury. I won't decide till I get near the end of the shawl and know my stitch count. There might be something in Knitted Lace of Estonia or in Victorian Lace that will suit. Perhaps Mary Schiffman has the answer. I'll go where the breeze takes me.

There are the Mille Colori wristwarmers and cowl to do up too. I shan't be short for want of knitting without even thinking about something new, yet all I can seem to think about is starting something new. I'm going to resist the urge, and am going to be good to myself and take along one of these WIP's, before I start to feel like they are whipping me.

But you can darn well be sure, that before I leave today, I'll be checking out the addresses of the yarn stores in Saskatoon. I hate to have a knitting emergency and be unprepared.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Scottish Blackface Sheep

I'm about to learn a lot about Scottish Blackface Sheep. You know how it is with connections since Ravelry came along, and one thing led to another and I along with a couple of other Ravelers, will shortly come into a quantity of Blackface Sheep fibre.

This is the real thing, raw, straight off the sheep's back so to speak. It was on offer, it was free. I thought about it and decided against asking for some at first but you know how it is. I caved and figured if I want to try it at all, now is as good a time as any. I and my Raveler buddies are going to take it and see what we can do with it.

Its great and I am really looking forward to it, except for one thing.

He said bring a truck.

What does a truck of fleece look like and should I be concerned?

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

It Surely Must Be Music

In a corner of my heart, I have always known that if I ever really learned to knit, knitting would take over my life. I think that is why all those years ago, before I gave up trying to figure out knitting, I spent 30 dollars I could ill afford on an entire set of needles in a really nice case (Which I don't use. They aren't very good needles at all. Rounded tips.).

I think it's why I vowed that I wasn't going to knit or try to knit ever again, if I couldn't understand. My decreases did not do what the pattern showed. My sweaters did not look like the pictures. It sounds rather silly when I write it out now, after I understand it all, but it broke my heart.

Since I have come to understand the differences, between my style of knitting and pattern writers, knitting has indeed taken up a good lot of my time and everything about it is utterly compelling. It is beyond need. It is as air and water.

In the few weeks since my first colourwork mittens, funny as it seems, I had forgotten what colourwork felt like. Not forgotten perhaps, but until you have it in your hands again, till you are playing its particular music, the memory of its rhythm, its song is just an echo across a misty valley.

But oh, when you have it in your hands, what symphonies you can play. Its sings as it moves along your needles, as the threads wrap through your fingers.
I love these brilliant tones set off against the depth of the black. I love the feeling of light they put into the dark. It would be a little much for me to wear but for a bag, it's perfect.

Mr. Needles knows the next project will be his vest, and he wandered into the kitchen last night while I was knitting and looked a bit worried for a minute. I assured him that the colours for his vest are much softer, more earthy and muted than this bag. AT the top you can see one of the patterns I think I will use. Trees, punctuated by peerie patterns and each band shaded to suit the man and his passions.

I'm learning some vitally important things on this practise work. Know the patterns before you start to knit, understand how the design is going to flow where the edges meet. Graph it out and colour it up. Then decide how many stitches you need to cast on.

Ask me how I know. Its a good thing the practise project is only a bag.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

And Almost End and a Beginning

I've been playing this morning. This is the bag that I am using as gauge, and practise for the vest which will follow immediately. I'll use it to practise patterns and get gauge between the stranded areas and unstranded parts of the bag, and well, just for fun.

I can already see that a change of colour is in order. If I want to provide some pop to the black, I'll have to change the grey at the centre of the blue blue squares, for something much more brilliant, much more in tune with the power of the lovely blue. It looks OK, but with a brilliant poppy orange yellow it might just look stunning. My trip around town today is going to have to include more yarn.

While I am there I might just see if I can find a soft grey so I can alternate the background colour. I have the light grey and if I have a shade between the strong black and the light, I should be able to use them for the soft traditional variations of many Fair Isle designs. That might mean I ought to vary the blue as well, but we shall see what I can come up with.

And joy of joys, I have finished the black socks but for the heels. I'll be working on black socks heels this evening, and plan to have the blessed things complete before this day is done.

It could be said I cheated but I prefer to think of it as being thrifty with my time. I had a good toe section, well mid foot and toe actually, and I had a good top section. I reknit from the top down long enough so that when I grafted the toe section to the sock, it matched the length of the completed black sock perfectly.

Yup, I grafted an entire foot. It turned out well enough I think, though not perfectly. If the wearer feels the imperfections too much, then I will undo the graft and simply knit the darn toe. It would take at least a day, so I'm crossing my fingers and hoping.

And were it any other colour than black, I would have pictures. Many pictures. A plethora of pictures, cause I am really really proud of all this grafting.

And I am never ever knitting plain black socks again. Kettle dyed black perhaps, overdyed black, surely, multi black and grey tones, certainly, but never plain black again.

It's a promise I mean to keep.

Monday, 9 February 2009

A Baby Surprise Complete

The Baby Surprise is complete and I am very pleased with it. Here it is in all its unblocked glory.
It is entirely charming and did not take nearly the yarn I had set aside for the sweater. I might do some single crochet in bright pink along the edges, and it still needs buttons but it is substantially complete. I know Finley's mom loves pink, and I hope this brilliant shade will please her.

I have one more to do in the next few weeks for Kylie, my friends new granddaughter, and I can honestly say, I'm looking forward to it. There are a few things I will do differently on this second one, though. I think I'm going to cast off another stitch, maybe two at the neck line to allow some colour to happen on the finishing along that area. This neck opening seems just too tiny when I try to add any on this first sweater. Another thing I think I will do, is put the second major colour segment on the 10 rows after all the decreasing is done. It will better mirror what I did for the sleeves.

Usually I put something new on the needles immediately after I finish a project but I confess yesterday, I just sat and admired this cute little thing and all its spongy warmth. The yarns are so bouncy, my favourite thing in a yarn, that it was nice just to sit and pet it for a while.

I have a black sock to finish, and I have the practise colour stranding project on needles and the vest still to knit. I have some wrist warmers and a cowl on the go for myself, and deep in the bowels of the work bag is an attempt at a rib warmer almost half done. That is enough on the needles projects for now.

But while I admired and petted the sweater, I planned and dreamed of the next big thing. For the first time in a while, I don't have something long planned for ahead of me, waiting in the queue. Its really really nice to be faced with possibilities instead of certainties for a change.

Where the wind blows. I think that is where I'm going next.

Friday, 6 February 2009

This might as well be the week of the Baby Surprise

These colours are driving me just a little bit batty. Its not as if I wasn't that way in the first place but honestly, had I known that I would be going through this, I have picked a nice crisp, easy on the eyes white to mix with the glorious Sherbet colourway from Socks That Rock. The brilliant fuchsia pink is a lot of colour to work with even though I absolutely love the way it looks. I can't wait for the sweater to be finished to see it in its entirety.

The Baby Surprise and I are getting along much better now. The evil 6 rows were replaced by 6 nicely behaved rows, and things went along smoothly till I needed to start the increases. Between knitting and chores, I am reading through the various Newsletters in the Opinionated Knitter, and caught the little ditty that EZ wanted us to do increases by casting on one stitch using the backward loop cast on.

She asks us to do this because it is almost invisible. She is right. It is almost invisible. And she is right. Can you see the increases here?

In the upper right hand corner of this second picture, you can see the tip of the green pin. Use that for a reference if you need too. The white pin is marking an increase. The increases have 5 stitches between them. See if you can locate some others. Tough, isn't it. These stitches are at the diaper line increases along the back of the sweater, where I don't really want to see an increase.

Not everything went smoothly using EZ's increase. I tried them on the corner increases, and lovely as they were, I could not see them easily. Pretty soon, I was having trouble knowing what row I was on. Should I be increasing, should it be plain, and where the heck did that corner stitch go? The markers had gone by the wayside but I figured I could do it without markers. It would be easy, right?

In the cold light of morning, before the cold light of morning in fact, I decided to rip back to the knit 3 rows straight, and do a more visible increase on the corners.

And yes, I have gone back to religiously marking my center of the corner stitch. The increase I'm using is a bar increase on either side of the corners centre stitch. Once the increase is made, I'm knitting the increase stitch. I don't know if this is how everyone else is doing this kind of increase, but when you knit that increase stitch, the pull on the bar almost disappears, and the increase becomes a good looking match for the previous decreases. I'm in my comfort zone with holes in the corners it seems.

I hope to get this little sweater complete today, but I do have some errands to run this afternoon. I'm going to stop by the Friday knitters for a quick cup of coffee too. Coffee, knitting and the company of good friends is a great way to spend an hour on a Friday afternoon.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Its no Surprise at all.

Let me say first that a Baby Surprise Jacket is a simple knit, not complex at all. It is elegant in its simplicity. You have to keep just two things in mind, and you have to do them right every time to make it work.

There in lies its complexity, its wonder, its marvel. Therein lies the reason why, some 50 years after it was first conceived, the Baby Surprise Jacket is still being knit, still being discussed and still being obsessed over by first timers like me.

It is also further proof that in knitting, within the simplest and most basic stitch, there lurks a humbling for those who need humbling, a lesson for those who would learn. Smarter more observant knitters would have no problem taking this project out to knitting group, but I am not one of those smarter more observant knitters.

I am marking the corner stitch each and every row. I have the decrease side marked at the beginning of the decrease row just to twig my memory that yes, this is the decrease side. I have made myself become familiar with what the decrease looks like on either side and I check it regularly to confirm that I am on the side I think I am.

A knitter will understand what I feel when I am knitting along, nice and peaceable like, and how, just when I am feeling strong, confident and in charge of this knitting, the thought suddenly crosses my mind, "Gee whiz, it feels like a long time since I did a decrease"

A knitter will completely understand how I feel when I realize that I have done this not just once, but 3 times. Knitting the same 6 rows.

I 'm going back in there now, girding my loins, brandishing needles. I am going to get past these 6 rows. If the fates are kind, the 6 rows after that are going to be a lot simpler.

The Baby Surprise jacket certainly is a surprise, it just isn't the surprise I thought I was going to get.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Did you ever google 'knitting'?

Did you ever google knitting? Did you do it lately? 24,100,000 results.

24 million, 24.1 million to be more correct. Wow.

Did you ever wish you had time to go through all those hits? Wouldn't it be nice to be able to work through each of the pages that a quick search like that brought up. Sure there would be a bunch of sales pitches and a lot of flotsam, but still, if only 25% of the hits were things that would inspire you...

It is hard to imagine the volume of knitting on the net.

Which brings me to Ravelry. Almost 300,000 strong and still, many many of the knitters I meet each day don't go there. So many say its not their sort of thing, but I keep telling them, its your thing. Really.

Ravelry has brought so much richness into my life. Through Ravelry I found a community of knitters locally, a community of fibre persons, a community of vibrant, interesting people who are as compelled by this subject of yarn in the oddest of ways, as am I. I feel very at home among its citizens.

Quite unfairly, I find it odd when people aren't interested in knowing about Ravelry. I mean it is up to them, and it isn't going to be every body's cup of tea, but as a resource for patterns, it is the best of all possible sources. I mean how can even the most uninterested of knitters and crocheters not be interested in that vast reserve of patterns just sitting there waiting for you to look them over, decide between them, and then knit them.

Which gets me to Knitty. For many of us, Knitty is one of the first really interesting things we find on the Internet. It comes up near the top of the knitting search. It has been around 6 years and these days, 6 years is a lifetime for a publication, particularly an Internet publication. Still as huge a resource as Knitty is, as wonderful as it is, a lot of people don't know about it.

I talk about Knitty and Ravelry all the time at work. They are such inspiring places to visit, and such valuable tools and no matter who or what you are, your knitting and crocheting life will be better for visiting there. Even if you never use a single pattern from either, even if you never find Twist Collective, or Knotions or any of the hundreds of wonderful online places, not going, not looking at Knitty and Ravelry is a disservice to knitting and to yourself.

I preach to the unconverted, and all I can do is tell them to visit, tell them to look at patterns, and hope that they might find these places even a 100th as interesting as I think they are.

So if you never googled knitting, or crochet, or needlework, try it. Who knows what delights await.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Surprise Surprise Surprise

I'm just about to switch from knitting to digging in my stash, but I wanted to show you what I have been playing with this morning. Purdy, ain't it.

As I am moving along, I am playing with stripes. I'm debating if this is going to be simply a striped pink sweater or striped pink sweater. If I use more of the plain pink, I get one look, and if I try to go evenly through the sweater with both colours, but for the plain colour emphasis on the cuffs and ends areas, I get a distinctly different look. I'm not sure where I am going yet, but the journey is interesting.

One of the things I have found (new to absolutely no one but me) is that you get two very different looks of striping depending on which side you are going to call the right side.

I looked at the instructor sample at the store, and noted that they had finished the sweater as if the decrease stitch was done on the wrong side (the side you wear against your skin) I have no idea if this is what is called for, no idea if it matters at all, but I think they did it because when they used that side, they get neat, clear divisions of the start of the garter stitch ridges and a neater looking corner.This is the look from the decrease and colour change row side, the side where all the action happens. You see how the first garter ridge shows one stitch side of the ridge in one colour and one stitch side of the ridge in the other? The change of colours looks as if there is no stop and no start, it just happens. If your goal is seamlessly blended colours, this is what the look you want. You can see the active side of the slip one, k2, psso corners. But how does the other side look?

This is what the same row of garter ridges looks like from the other side, the knit only row side. See the clear defined ridge? This is the look I am after. I want the ridge on the outside to look sharp, well defined, to have a whole ridge appear in one colour, crisp and clear as a summer day (a very, very pink summer day)The decrease corners will look like this. Its shows less of the bulk of the two stitch decrease and hides it. All you see on this side is the magical change of direction.

This second side is what I will be using as my outside, my 'people will see me' side. Think about that as you debate which rows you want to start a second colour on. Do you want crisp colour changes on the side showing the bulk of the decrease, or do you want crisp colour changes on the side showing only a change of direction?

No matter how you do it, it will look great but like many things in knitting, attention to detail can really change the finished look of your project.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Let the Trumpets Sound...

If I had a trumpet, you'd all hear a royal fanfare because the sweater is complete. Drops design 103-16 became this.

Back view showing off the snazzy little hood SS asked for and the lovely ribbed construction and
the front, showing off the small change we made to the stitch used.

On the original design, the fronts are largely made up of reverse stockinette stitch. They still are, but as we were assembling this sweater, we decided to go inside out and use the stockinette side. It just looked nicer. The longer than called for sleeves were done using stockinette rather than the reverse too.

I'm very, very pleased. So pleased at the yarn choice, so pleased at the construction details, so pleased at the way it hangs, so pleased at the way it falls just right at the hood. I'm less pleased that I forgot buttons on Saturday, but I'll fix that first thing this morning. The buttons and the closers are the only part of this still to be done, and that won't take but a minute.

While the model is not the very slender SS, it does show how very very versatile this sweater would be. The knitted size is a medium and yet that medium still looks decent on my much, much larger dress form. The patterns top finished size is 58 inches, plenty for many many of us big girls. The ribbed back will keep the fit stylish, the front, with its not quite ribbed look, will keep that which we don't want emphasised, un-emphasised.

So while I am riding the success of this sweater, and finishing only a day shy of my resolve to finish it in January, I can go forward with a pretty clear conscience. Tonight I'm going hunting for the wool for Mr. Needles vest.

I have to finish choosing the patterns and colours. There did not seem to be a rush, and yet here I am ready to begin, with nothing picked or completely planned.

In the mean time, I am knitting feverishly on the baby surprise jacket. The first draft was ripped back, and I'm going forward at the larger gauge by doubling the sock yarns. It's a great way to get the second and larger gauge EZ gives in her pattern. The big benefit of this is how lovely and bouncy the fabric is. Its a joyous thing to work with and I feel a very quick knit coming on.

So onward to stash diving, stash digging, stash playing (and maybe even stash tidying) onward to fresh knitting, and a lot of fun.


In my final dash to finish the sweater, I did not quite get the third book read for NaJuReMoNoMo. It is so close, but it's a contest and I did not make the finish line. close doesn't count. That said, I doubled my book count from last year. Two whole books. Wowsers, I have a long way to go.