Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Will The Skirt Stay Up?

The skirt is on the final lap and the finish line is soon to be crossed. Must weave in ends of course. And the last little detail. What keeps the skirt from sliding down?

The pattern on which I based the skirt clearly indicates to weave an i-cord around the top and tie a pretty bow. Well, a piece of string might have sufficed thirty-five years ago. Or forty! But, in the elapsed decades I have lost my faith in just string between me and the world. I want, yeah need, something more certain. More secure. More - well just more.

At minimum, the i-cord will have elastic embedded within it. Since I don't know the right way to do it, I made up my own version. This photo shows the back of the work in progress.

Notice that the elastic is a nice sturdy oval variety. My method is to simply wrap the working yarn around the elastic when starting on the next row. You might try clicking the photo to enlarge. The note is to myself, lest I forget how this is done.

The next photo is a poor attempt to show the placement for the needle, yarn and elastic when making the first stitch. I might suggest that (hold on - - abomination on the way) that the elastic actually be tied to the yarn before beginning the i-cord. This knot will prevent the elastic from slipping out of the work as you progress along.

A few details:
* dk weight
* Oval cord elastic - purchased at a fabric store
* Size 6 needle - perhaps going up to an 8 would work better, but I like the look of the smaller. The gauge on an 8 should be such that the result would be a perfect i-cord. Using the 6 results in a flat back where the yarn wraps across the elastic.

This last photo shows what I mean.

If the elasticized i-cord proves not enough to keep the skirt where it belongs, I have a step two already planned out. Step two in the security factor will be to weave elastic thread on the inside of the skirt so that it works to keep the k1p1 ribbing snug and where it belongs.

And no, my middle area does not need the added bulk of a folded over casing at the top, so don't even go there. I am my own bulk, thank you very much.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Norway Knits

It has been an entire week since I focused on events not related to travel. A quick trip to Oslo sidelined progress on the current projects. What did not get finished: the grey skirt, the grey blanket, the bluish grey FLS.

What did get accomplished is 20 inches on this herringbone scarf. The width is wider than I like. Sure do wish that I had used a bit of math to figure out how wide the pattern repeats would make the final measurement. Oh, well. It made a nice travel project no matter the width.

Before leaving home, several friends told of horror stories trying to carry knitting on European air flights. Thus informed, I was totally prepared. Spare needles in the checked bag gave me a level of comfort. Because I have never experienced any difficulty with bamboo circulars and LAX, I set off to Heathrow with narry a worry. But, being forewarned by friends, before deplaning at Heathrow, I threw in a life line.

No worries. Not one security issue around the knitting in the carry on. Not one question from the polite security team about round tipped bamboo attached to another by a length of plastic. Not that I asked or offered to open the carry on, it you get my thinking. If not asked, don't tell.
Off to Oslo we breezed. Perhaps, thought I, the issue is in the leaving - - getting out of a country rather than simply transferring from one flight to another. So, before heading off to the Oslo airport, the life line went back in because my friends had done such a good job of warning me about this European travel.

No worries. Not even leaving the lovely Oslo. My bag zipped through security, scanned and panned and patted. No security officer even cared that I had the bamboo circulars.

My shoes? An entirely different concern and a story I shall not commit to digital paper.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Why I Shop Local

No photos today. Just a marvelous story, in two parts, about why I shop local - as in Local Yarn Stores. Mind you sometimes a LYS can be quite a trek here in southern California. We think nothing of driving and hour to get to a 'local' yarn store.

Story 1
Knit 'N Stitch here in Riverside is hosting a yarn tasting featuring Plymouth Yarn. If you have never been to a yarn tasting, it is quite a fun and festive event. Plymouth is sending skeins and skeins of yarn and sample garments. It is a bring your own needles and hooks and try before you buy afternoon of fun. Naturally, food is involved.

Unfortunately, I will have to miss the event due to prior plans. This story is all about opening one's big mouth and getting a little perk. I expressed to Linda, the KNS owner, that I could not attend the event - I would miss out on the festivities and the discount. Too bad for me. It is possible that a sad face accompanied my announcement.

Linda, ever the friendly shopkeeper, offered a wonderful solution. I am to stop by today. It is an opportunity to see the new Plymouth Fall color ways and yarns, look through the patterns and enjoy. Yes, a private - well as private as one can be in an open store - tasting of my own. Linda has even offered to include the discount on any yarns I order.

Isn't this grand? Personal service and an early opportunity. Naturally, this early sneak peak does not include refreshments. That is just for the official Yarn Tasting event. Perhaps, to show my gratitude for Linda's kindness, I will arrive with cookies in hand. I have my eye on beaucoup Boku with the promised discount, of course. But Royal Llama Silk Splash is speaking to me. Not softly either.

Story 2
A short while ago, a LYS here in Riverside closed doors - kaput! Gone. The owner, with an expiring lease, chose to close the business rather than sign another lease. She had an opportunity to change her life focus and took it. This was a great place to shop - sock yarn and buttons! Of course the stock included lots of other yummy yarns, books, classes. It was a LYS of some note. One of the workers, an excellent teacher by the way, was quite concerned about loosing her job.

Skip forward about two months and here comes Knitting With Sandra. The Grand Opening of the new store is just one day away. As I will not be able to attend the official opening due to the same prior engagement that keeps me from the Plymouth Yarn Tasting (see above story), I drove by earlier this week to see what was happening. Wouldn't you know it, the doors were unlocked and Sandra along with her merry band of cohorts was busy stocking the shelves, already giving a class, and the windows were getting washed and all of the painting was complete (and no smell left to impact your comfort).

Even better, Sandra gave me a personal tour of the shop, discussed what was yet to be put out on display and also gave me the scoop on stock soon to arrive. I admitted to having signed up for her Ravelry group and now had all of those new friends, thanked her for keeping me on the email list (left over from her work for the previous owner) and signed on the dotted line to stay on her email list. Oh, and I did manage to buy Ella rae Lace Merino #106. Before the official opening! You are not going to get that kind of service at a big box chain.

These two stories illustrate why I shop local.
  1. Special attention - personal attention
  2. Friendships to be made
  3. Friendshops for stopping by and sitting a spell
  4. Sale price - before the sale
  5. An occasional perk
  6. And there is that whole spurring on the local economy, keeping sales tax close to home, workers employed, etc.
Get out there and shop local. Yarn, veggies, car wash, appliance repair, lunch.... Every little bit helps to make your community your home.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Christmas Knitting In July

Yes, it is almost too cliche, but the Holiday Knitting has begun. I have decided that the afghan, in shades of grey, will become a man gift. Progress is slow, due to excitement of other projects for me. Things I need completed so that I can wear in the fall.

This F&F is worked with three rows of garter after the three rows of YOs & decreases. The whole effect is less delicate than if all those rows are stockinette. Not rough, mind you. Just less delicate. Perfect for the man I have in mind.

This Managhan is actually the fourth gray UFO sitting around. What are the others? Well, there is the skirt that is almost finished - but for 4 inches of crochet. Then there is a FLS in a soft and undulating 50% silk. And still one sleeve to set in on the cabled cardigan from way back here.

I sure hope that having so many gray projects does not say anything worrisome about my psyche. I am not a gray person. Maybe it is just that my personality is so colorful that it overwhelms the spectrum around me. Could that be it?

Nope. Can't be. I bought new sock yarn yesterday and it is definitely NOT GRAY!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Lace Makes The Skirt

Finally, a picture of the dull grey skirt of endless ribbing. But see how beautiful the lace makes all that nothing? I am actually farther along with the lace than this photo shows.

It is just that the thrill of anything other than k1p1k1p1k1p1k1p1k1p1.... was worth snapping a pix.

The lace portion will be about the same depth as the upper ribbed modesty portion. Having knitted for so long, and now crocheting with the same yarn, I am reminded how expensive it is to crochet with the good stuff. I am only four rounds into the crochet and already feeling panic about having enough yarn. Mind you the skirt stash still has 600+ yards hiding in the closet. Crochet really eats up the yards quicker than you can pour a glass of pinot.

With visions of the completed skirt dancing about in my imagination, the cost of the Louisa Harding Kashmir DK seemed irrelevant. Not much at all when put as a percentage of the yearly yarn budget. And, by using it up so quickly on the crochet lace, think of all the space that will be available in the yarn closet! I just might be forced to go out foraging for another goodly amount of something yummy just to fill in the blank spot where the grey sat. However, such visions of yarn yet to be acquired must wait for another time. For I must confess that, with hook in hand and a rapidly unwinding ball, I am beginning to feel 'dire panic, as I watch the stash dwindle so quickly.

Perhaps I shall to take myself out to an actually clothing store and price a custom made wool/cashmere skirt.

Now that little excursion will surely put the cost of the skirt yarn back into perspective! And put the sense of pure logic behind my next yarn purchase.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Ribbing Is Over!

It was do or give up day. All of that endless ribbing for the beginning of my skirt had just about fried my brain. The little break to make the red seed stitch bag really helped. It helped so much that I kept the ribbing in second place and cast on for a February Lady Sweater which, for those who missed that craze, can be found here.

All of the increases on the FLS were done earlier this morning. Decision time was upon me. Either keep on with the lady sweater whilst ignoring the ribbing or just get it done. I chose the noble route and returned to the endless rounds of ribbing. So, I packed up the required tools and just enough yarn to finish and headed off to Knit 'n Stitch here in Riverside where there is always a table full of souls willing to make 'tsk, tsk' sounds over what ever needs to be tsk-ed.

And so, spured on by the industrious work being done by the loyal knitters, I did not give up. I worked, I chatted, I perused, I measured. And before you can say boring, it was done. Finished. Not only finished, but the bind off was accomplished - - loosely - - - and I even remembered to go up a few needle sizes so as not to loose the stretch.

I thought of posting a lovely photo of this top part of the skirt. But no one, especially me, wants to see a picture of that much dull grey ribbing.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Breaking Up k1p1 Boredom

I hate ribbing. Fundamentally hate the repetition of nothing. Same thing over and over and over again. Oh, you might surely tell me with some conviction that garter stitch is even less of the same thing over and over. We could have a lively debate over this topic. At least garter, which is I will admit even more repetitious than ribbing, has the monotony broken up by the occasional thrill of counting the resulting ridges. Ridges that can, in my little mind, mean that progress is in the works. But ribbing? Round and round of yet another round of the same old round with nary a horizontal ridge to break up the round and round of the same old round of nothing.

So, since the current project for moi is nothing but 1x ribbing ad infinitum, something else had to break up the boredom. Don't laugh, but I broke up the boredom of k1p1 with k1p1. How's that? What madness has taken over? Simple. It turns out that not all k1p1 equals ribbing.

Let me introduce the Moss stitch. Seed if you prefer. Leftover Bonsai from the Isolt became a little leftover bag.

The pattern is almost not worth writing down. Cast on enough stitches to give the width of choice. Purl one row. Row 2 is knit with eyelet button holes spaced as your heart desires. Purl row three. Work moss stitch until the length will result, when folded, a depth that is in harmony with the width. Work three rows of stockinette and bind off. Work crab stitch to close up sides. Sew fun buttons on the inside of the stockinette under the eyelet button holes.

Ta Da!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Off The Needles And On The Body

It is finished. The seaming turned out to be more of an issue for my back than for my psyche. As any one with two brain cells could have predicted, I should have conserved energy for the weaving in of ends. Too Many Ends on Isolt - which I have lovingly renamed L-isolt in honor of moi. Cast on, cast off, start seam, end seam, crab stitch.

I strongly suggest that if, as a matter of course, you do not already weave in ends as you go, you take up the habit prior to beginning the pattern. This is not intarsia. It is motif work.

And now suggestions:
  • Getting row gauge matters here. Pointy spots have a place to be - and that place is exactly next to another pointy spot. One particular motif gave me fits. Thus I am especially pleased that I blocked each piece next to all of its final mates and was able to 'squish down'. But don't tell the knitting police.
  • Working front exactly as back fit all of my pointy and lumpy spots.
  • When at all possible, work the two motifs at the same time - one for the front and one for the back. It helps with accuracy in final seaming. Well, this and getting the row gauge correct.
  • Take absolutely no care in binding off the cowl neck. No care what so ever. On the first attempt I worked a beautiful and smooth and consistent bind off on the slippery Seduce. On the second attempt, I worked the most sloppy, uneven, ugly loose and loopy bind off in the history of bad knitting. Works like a charm! The stockinette of the cowl rolls back on itself and no one in public will see the loopy stitches. But it slides silky over and down my swelled head that resulted from actually finishing this beauty.