Monday, November 30, 2009

Beagle Scarf Pattern Review

By now you may have thumbed through the Nora Gaughan Men Collection from Berroco. These designs are really nice. As in great and timeless nice. The Beagle design is presented in both a pullover and a scarf. This past football weekend I knitted up a bit of the scarf as a shop sample.

This is it here - unblocked of course.

The pattern indicated that this is an easy project. And I agree. Frankly, it would be a great teaching pattern for something to do after the ubiquitous garter knitting.

Once the knitter has worked about two inches, the instructions can be set aside and you just get on with the business of reading the stitches and repeating the work. Four rows with a bit of ribbing in the middle broken up by twisted stitches. Yep, this would be a superb second project for any beginner. And it is a quick knit for those with flying fingers!

The ribbed center section that includes the twisted stitches makes the scarf quite pliable for wrapping and twisting. The double moss panels give structure so that the whole thing does not mush down into a two inch wide tunnel of hotness whilst leaving portions of the neck exposed.

This is a great knit. So I am thinking that all of the other patterns in this collection are equally fantastic.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cherry Topping Is Done

This adventure to create a color more suited to me is really a story about taking a class. Getting education. It matters not if the class is about crochet, spinning, knitting, cost analysis, marketing, cooking or eco-friendly dyeing. Just get out there and learn something new.

Ann taught a quite satisfying class to the Guild on using food safe products to dye yarn. She has taken her class on the road for weekend retreats and all manner of similar adventures. While any class will do - taking class from someone local has a special built in bonus. Whether I've happened upon this marvelous teacher at a yarn shop or at a meeting or just passing by in town, she has offered encouragement to keep me on the path to success. I've picked her brain several times and know she will always offer wisdom about color manipulation.

Since the raglan was of my own design there really is not much to say about it. For sure the detail could have been mixed up by working two repeats of patterning on the body and only one on the sleeves. Or a different stitch inserted. Or basic ribbing.

That is not the story. The real story is how seven packages of black cherry drink mix can change yarn. That is a wad of the original sitting around for comparison. I am pleased and proud.

Get out there and gift yourself a class in something new. Stretch your wings. Ask Santa to bring you knowledge.

Be Thankful that you still desire to learn.

Monday, November 23, 2009

BSJ Again

Every time that a Baby Surprise is needed, I am amazed by how quickly this Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern knits up. It is truly magic on so many dimensions. Because this new one will be used as a folding sample only it seemed appropriate to make it as plain as possible

It is an old style baby pastel color worked on 3.5mm. This is the second BSJ I have made with Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino. This stuff even feels like a baby's cheek. It is working up at 5 st/ 1" so this is definitely newborn size. But as we know wool can be blocked up a bit as the baby grows. Not much can be said about this perfect pattern so I have no special notes to offer. Well none other than I actually planned out the button placement in advance.

Look here. Actual stitch markers telling me where to put the button holes. Now, some would comment that perhaps buttons should be in hand prior to planning button spacing and hole size. Where is the fun in that? The right buttons are not currently in hand and this is meant as just a sample. Thus, to one way of thinking the size and location of the hole does not matter.

To another way of thinking - there is the thrill of the hunt! The actual pounding of fingers and/or feet until perfection is achieved. One could possibly look forward to such an adventure if the desire to sew up the seams ever takes place.

This folding sample will also serve as a model for doing an i-cord bind off with the buttonholes inset on that final bind off. Rather than the sweater fronts overlapping by three ribs, a little more ease across the front chest is achieved due to buttons moving out a bit.

Without a real actual button in hand, I opted for a two stitch hole. This is enough to show others how to accomplish the bind off and hole making in one fell swoop.

(And yes, that final photo is upside down. Note the neck at the bottom and the diagonal lines at the top of the photo. Live with it!)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Observations on Knit & Tink

Very important observation!

One margarita = Knit
Two margaritas = Tink

One mug of coffee = Tink
Two mugs of coffee = Knit

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Branching Out

Last month I gave myself two birthday gifts. One of the precious acquisitions is Reversible Knitting from Lynne Barr. You can read all about what this great resource contains here.

I love reversible knitting. Especially when it comes to the humble scarf. When a utilitarian scarf has a definite under side - aka wrong side - it seems to cause a lot of fiddling to take place. Is the good side showing? Does it twist the wrong way? Why does this tail look different from that tail? Fiddle, adjust, flip, fix...all day long.

Don't get me wrong. When a light as air lace scarf peeks out from under suit lapels I am entranced. A bit of cashmere laying flat is beauty indeed. But I'm talking about plain every day keep my neck warm scarf making. And I like something totally reversible. Or at least great looking from both sides ala Stefanie Japel's scarf from earlier.

Thus, the purchase of Reversible Knitting and stash surfing for an appropriate fiber for the pattern Branching Ribs. This is a geometric scarf that depends on short rows for the shaping. Worked with two strands held together and 8mm needles, this still manages to look quite feminine and, given what is out there in retail land, quite cutting edge for this season. The pattern calls for cotton. But it has actually turned chilly at night, and pretends to be autumnal in the mornings. Warmth is appropriate even here in southern California.

That is Atacama alpaca that has been hiding for about two years. It was a lucky find at an out of the way store with a great sale. Such a good sale that this entire scarf cost about nine whole dollars. I love my stash. And I love Reversible Knitting by Lynne Barr.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Feather And Fan Afghan

Remember the feather & fan afghan? The shades of grey were chosen to coordinate with the new bedding that daughter #1 purchased. It is finished. Off the needles, ends woven in and done! Well there is that pesky blocking thing, but that is for this weekend.

This top photo shows the true colors. The garter stitch band is knit right along because the thought of picking up that many stitches after the fact is simply out of the question. I am not that disciplined.

Here, color way off, is the final result. As you can see, the surprise twist is that the stripes are vertical. We are all familiar with the horizontal patterning of feather & fan. This trusty and ageless design, crocheted or knitted, is most often presented as worked, which is indeed horizontal.

In case you are wondering:
Size 10 circular
CO 272 (allows for 252 F&F pattern stitches with 10 st garter on each side) F&F pattern can easily be found free all over the knitting internet sites.
R 1-10 k
R 11 - ? k10, 252 F&F , k10 (this gets that garter edge and allows for 14 repeats of an 18 stitch F&F)
Repeat R 1-10

Voila! Turned on the "side" nice slimming vertical stripes. Perfect for curling up with a book or an afternoon malaise.

Friday, November 13, 2009

CrabEdge To The Rescue

Cherry Top needs a better bottom. That's right, a bottom. Funny thing about that stockinette - it curls. Why is that simple fact so easy to gloss over? It is like a test. Perhaps one day, by some miracle of the twist of yarn, no curling will occur. But alas, no matter how often that tendency is tested, that roll on the edge still happens.

Regarding Cherry Top - that curl is at the bottom where the openwork bit of 'lace' suddenly ends. No ribbing at the bottom! So what to do? Since this raglan top is not pattern based, I can't blame some other designer for poor planning. It is all my fault that there is curling.

And since it is all my fault, I get to decide how to control that bottom edge. This is an instance where a good reference book could be of help. Reference books that give stitches are fun to play around with - but that is sort of how I ended up with the curling bottom. Reference books that go beyond the how of a stitch or notes on other blogs and Ravelry are a true wealth of knowledge when the "why" of a stitch is explained. I love those knitters out there who readily admit when something did not work and then proceed in short words or long prose, to give a solution and even rate how effective that solution was on the remedy scale.

So, here is my helpful remedy of the day. A sturdy and tightly worked crab stitch around the edge. Look closely at that photo. Even without blocking the tightness and vertical inclination of the reverse stitch is making that edge lay flatter. It is a beautiful thing. I suspect that after the dye bath and blocking to size, this is going to be even better.

Yeah, it is too early to gloat - but I've got a feeling....

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Air Between The String

It is indeed air between string. Took this photo outside so that the wonderful air is visible - there between the string of cashmere.



Captured breath.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Knitting Air

That's right. I am knitting air. At least that is what it feels like. Rowan Kidsilk Haze on 5.5mm (US 9) is pure air.

First, the yarn itself is a mere wisp of a twist; barely felt as it floats across fingers and sticks. All one needs do is drop a length of the stuff and watch it waft on a current of air. And that is it. The Kidsilk Haze twines around the bigger needles and captures air. It circles around nothing and creates a whole pocket of air.

A good length, about five inches, is complete and the weight is barely discernible. These pockets of air sure are beautiful. Lace like, with out a lace pattern. Floaty, but eventually seams will give structure to all of this captured air.

This knitting of air is feeling like a suspended moment of existence. Thoughts flow and float with the mohair.

Hard to explain. What wonders are captured in the air between the string.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Slogging Away At Projects

Slog - to plod (one's way) perseveringly especially against difficulty. And I am guessing that said difficulty includes boring bits on the way to a finish line.

Slogging away at the Cherry Top. Every time a project, which previously excited my creative juices, gets to the bazzillionth stitch all excitement vanishes. When that bazzillionth stitch is yet another knit stitch in an endless round of knit stitches not even mindless television can divert my mind for the boredom. For this reason alone, the hem line of most sweaters that come from my needles are not just plain sweater bottoms.

Boredom sets in and something has to give or else a catatonic state will settle in and the brain, fingers and needles will freeze into position.

Cherry Top decided not to end with ribbing. Call out the knitting police! No ribbing. Just call me a rebel. Somehow, adding in a purl was not going to break up the boredom. Hopefully, once completed, dyed and blocked, the purist police will be pleased.

Slogging away at the Mandrill socks has finally resulted in completion. Caution: personal opinion follows. The Ella Rae proved disappointing. That the socks are complete and there is still color on the yarn is a miracle. Absolutely every time I worked on the socks, color rubbed off on my fingers. While the yarn works up just fine, the color transfer has ruined it all. Don't think I'll be using that stuff again.

So, after slogging away at the socks since August, the completed pair hit the vinegar bath. Watching socks soak is really not at all exciting. No, not at all. About as much fun as watching socks dry.

Still slogging away at the feather & fan afghan that is destined to be a gift. Should have made a lap robe - it would be done!