Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Knitting By The Numbers

Noro Taiyo is working up rather well. Perhaps it is because of the research prior to casting on. Ravelry is a miracle. Access to world wide use of a specific yarn, reading notes by knitters far and wide, checking out the photos - - it all works. I am convinced that this marvelous social community is the secret to the ease of designing my new math-terpiece.

My current worry is how much positive ease to write into the pattern. And I am thinking that finishing this first version and actually putting in on several bodies will help with the decision.

Because this v-neck will be sleeveless and the cotton content of the Taiyo makes it particularly suited to summer temperatures, the thought of zero (0) ease is winning out. Something a little snug, but not tight. Too much ease and that cotton can get rather sloppy and ill fitting.

So, the work continues. Are the needles producing what my mind's eye sees? Will anyone like it? Will I like it? Questions and worry and fret.

Pass the chocolate, please.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Knitting Math

Let's just put it right out there in the open. Doing math is not my reason for loving yarn. Oh, sure. There are hooks and needles based upon ye basic 'mm'. Maybe that is what tricked me from the start. They, whomever you think they are, suck you in with a promise of little chocolate candies. Trick you into thinking this whole thing is related to the health benefits of chocolate. Not so. 'Tis a lie. Right from the start - a falsehood. Turns out that 'mm' on a hook or needle is not, I repeat, not related to a bowl of M&Ms. Bummer.

After accepting that 'mm' is actually math related, the whole thing goes deeper into the dark recesses of brain work. Convert the meters to yardage to figure out if an extra skein is needed (yeah, yeah - -adopt metric and get on with it, say some). And let us not gloss over the requirement of a measuring device so as to compare the end hope with the mid-stream reality.

Right now, the math mojo must stay with me. I have an end hope. A dream. And she just might work. It all started with following my muse to create the vest of left over Ming. Much as I love the result, and wear the result, there is still that pesky seaming at the end of a wearable worked flat. Epiphany! I do not enjoy seaming. There. It has been stated for the eternal digital world to know. I do not enjoy seaming yarn edges.

Semi - epiphany. Work the vest in the round.

Could work. Would work with the right yarn. But what if the chosen yarn would result in (gasp) horizontal stripes? Not going to happen on this squat body. Give me a lovely vertical stripe that does not resemble a circus tent and then I'll be happy.

Thus, math. And look how hard I've been working on the math. Scribbles and scrabbles and hopefulness. Some of this actually has held true in the making.

16=4" .......Check!
Chain for provisional CO on 6.5mm hook.....Check!
The mysterious 73.....Check! (at least last time I counted)

And since it just so happens that 37 +36 = 73, those also become important numbers.

Takes a whole heap of brain power to get this math thing right.

Where is that chocolate?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Aestlight Delight

The Aestlight is done. Totally finished and dry.

This is just mystery stash cotton blend that seemed appropriate for something lacy. Unfortunately, this yarn was bought at an auction and there is no way to backtrack and tell the name. Does that make the better name Mysterious Morning Light? Or better yet, a simple Mysterious Morning.

The name does not matter at all. For this Aestlight is a delight.

Please notice that during blocking much attention was given to the pattern caution to pay special notice to the points of the edging. Each point was pinned tightly and with some effort at precision.

The blocking & pinning was definitely necessary on this cotton fiber. Every bit of the edging curled up and looked a mess during the making.

And here am I, proving for all that a subtle yarn with variegation or short color changes is absolutely the choice for this pattern.

FORGET THE BUMP. That's right. Pay no attention to the bump occurring on the back of my shoulder. Just poor planning when the photo was snapped. The lovely garter center triangle is perfectly blocked. I guarantee.

Thoughts on Aestlight:
Easy center garter followed by simple openwork and ending with edging that lets the mind focus.
The pattern is flexible enough for cotton - but if I do another I will definitely use something with more bounce.
The YOs at the edge of the triangle are quite fun to pick of and head off in another direction.
Actually, the pattern has one knitting in several different directions so it is a good learning project.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

There Is Something In The Air

The front is now off the needles. I had a few blessed hours alone with no commitment nor pressing 'to do' item that could interfere with the knitting.

I am always amazed that when one concentrates on only one thing at a time, it gets done with quick efficiency. So efficient was I that my first thought was to cast on for the sleeves and get the ribbing under way. After ten minutes of searching for the right needles, they were located. Naturally, the circs I need for working ribbing on two sleeves at the same time are exactly the circulars that are here on the Aestlight.

The edging is half done on the shawl, but my brain is not in gear for ending something. I need the thrill of a beginning.

At least I own marvelous red shoes! They make me happy, even when juggling needles is a pain.

Monday, December 14, 2009

French Press Slipper - NOT

And now for the rest of the story. The French Press Slippers are just wonderful. Even the light colored wool felted. Buying the stuff that has "for Felted projects" written on the label is a smart move.

A few friends have struggled with white and lack of felting. So I am extremely pleased.

Slippers should not slip. At least not slip on hard surface flooring. I have always assumed, although I have done no research to confirm my position, that slippers are so named because one's feet slip so easily into the design. Not because the soles slip while walking. There could be a long and involved history - if so, please let me languish in ignorance and carry on with my little assumption.

As a first try (and a fast no-shopping-involved solution) the puffy paint made an appearance on the soles. Go ahead and call the heart design on the heel area saccharine. Won't bother me. I was in a girly mood.

I am worried that the puffy paint will too easily flake off. It is a risk. If it happens, I'll be forced to go out and procure that sticky stuff that makes tool handles non-slip. But I am worried that the limited color range will offend my sense of style and clash with these first slippers. That has the potential to start a vicious cycle where more wool shopping - to coordinate with the sticky stuff - will be required, which means another few hours to make a new pair of slippers just so I can use the really sticky stuff so the the new slippers do not slip.

It is a never ending vicious cycle. Why do I love it so?

Friday, December 11, 2009

French Press Felted Slipper Bandwagon

Wow! Super! Voila! Amazing! I could keep going. Jump on the bandwagon and get thee to a purchase page for the French Press Felted Slippers. Click those words for the Etsy link. Purchase on Ravelry. Just get this pattern.

I have drunk the koolaid - so to speak. While her majesty Stephanie tempted all with her exploits, I just had to join the fray. Let's pause and lift a mug of mulled wine to Melynda and this pattern for a life time.

Thought #1 - gotta love a designer who encourages using coupons and sales to pad the knitting stash
Thought #2 - gotta love Melynda for admitting to purchasing her yarn at Michael's - where felting Paton's yarn is plentiful
Thought #3 - gotta love a quick to knit brilliant pattern
Thought #4 - gotta love a pattern that, owing to the final felt process, allows for sewing mishaps
Thought #5 - gotta love Melynda for admitting that stitching up holes during felting is perfectly acceptable
Thought #6 - gotta love Melynda for writing a well detailed pattern filled with tips, hints and guidelines for success

Here is my first attempt in mid-sewing process. Time line? Everyone wants the time line. I actually did check the clock and am pleased to report the following:
  • 7:45 print pattern and look for left over wool in the stash
  • 8:00 prepare coffee
  • 8:05 cast on
  • 8:15 start cooking red beans even though it is not Monday; keep knitting
  • 8:30 pause knitting to prevent boil over
  • 8:31 - 9:00 knit and stir, knit and stir - do not confuse utensils
  • 9:00 pause resulting from coffee consumption; refill mug with more coffee
  • 9:10 play with bird; prep apple for bird; stir beans; read pattern
  • 9:30 welcome house cleaners who make it easy to spend the day knitting
  • 9:35ish get back to knitting
  • 10:48 Finé! As in done. No more knitting
  • 10:49 Read pattern looking for more to knit. Flip through printed pages. Go back to Ravelry purchase and wonder what went wrong.
  • 10:55 Gloat. Admit that less than three hours of interrupted knitting can produce everything required for felted slippers. Celebrate with another mug of coffee
  • 11:00 - 1:30 Get all spiffy, put on skirt, sweater and big girl shoes; head out to holiday luncheon; celebrate
  • 1:35 Return home and gloat again; start sewing
  • 2:00 Forget all about nice seams and just get the sewing over with! Hide the ends; weave; stare in amazement
  • 2:10 Play with dog; rub dog belly; love the dog
  • 2:20 Start felting
  • 2:40 Give up on the washing machine and do the final felting to fit by hand.
  • 3:00 Gloat; gloat more than at 10:45; stare in amazement.
Set slippers and straps on counter to dry.

Forget that! Hunt up fancy rack that goes in dryer and put that machine on high for 80 minutes to speed up the drying! What is a little gas and electricity in the grand scheme of new felted slippers? I want them totally dry by the morning.

Needless to say, much of the evening has been spent in the button stash looking for the ideal match.

PS - that cotton string on the insole of the right slipper is to remind me that it is the right slipper - not the left slipper.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

New Needles To The Rescue

Progress on the knitting of air continues. Check out haiku knits by Tanya Alpert. This is a glorious book filled with amazing patterns, many of which offer the opportunity to knit air.

My current project is riverbed. Thus the Rowan Kidsilk Haze on 5.5mm. But I ran into a little snafu. My trusty needles, which have knit an afghan, several scarfs, hats, etc. have failed. That is right, the needles quit working effectively.

Look at this photo. You can see the wisps of yarn on the needles and two different needle tips joining in for comparison. (click to make bigger) The points on the different needles are actually quite different. Yes, both are bamboo. Yes, both are the same size. Yes, both are circular.

My trusty old needle tips just were not working. For me, the bamboo helps to hold the wispy stuff and make it easy to work only one stitch at a time without any slippage.

BUT. And this is a big but... the tips of my old faithful circs are slightly rounded and for some reason, even working each stitch at the tips, I was struggling. After completing the entire back of the sweater, it was apparent that the issue was the combination of "tip & twine" that was slowing progress.

Please understand that the working of Tanya Alpert's pattern is a joy. The Rowan is a dream. But the needle tips were a struggle. I'll not tell brands because, as mentioned up above, these are well used and trusty needles. Could it be that all the past projects have worn down something? Or, is it just that tips are different from brand to brand?

Here is a close up of the old and new needles. (Click to make bigger and come on back) The taper is different. The exact tips of the tips are different. Again, no names because this difference is totally about my fingers and the specific Kidsilk Haze. If you were working this yarn on a 5.5mm an entirely different needle might work for you.

So what it the point? The point of this story is all about finding the point (and associated needle) that fits with your fingers and feeling. Get the right tool for the job! When you find yourself struggling with a yarn, it might not be you. It just might be the combination of needle and yarn and your muscle action. Don't immediately put the blame on yourself. Don't blame the needles or yarn - consider the interplay of all factors and try to identify exactly where the problem is manifesting. On this particular project, that manifestation was right there at the tip of my fingers.

P.S Can you tell that I am in a festive mood?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Artistry in Yarn

Pure artistry. There is no other way to describe the scene that greeted me to my left. There I sat, proudly wearing my knit skirt which, owing to wearing it on the lower portion of my body, was hidden below a table.

But just look at the beauty near me.

Pretend that you are sitting down and give a glance to the left. Here you are peeking at a Swirl Shawl. Offers were made - and not necessarily in jest. Well done and lovely in jewel tones.

Check out the middle. Wrapped around that blue turtleneck is Aestlight. This blue version just happens to be the fourth incarnation by the same hands. The joke is that the knitter has made so many because she "just loves making garter triangles." I find that absolutely hilarious. Loves making garter triangles! Who says knitters don't have a sense of humor.

And then in the upper portion of the photo is a superb v-neck pullover. Check out the lovely work on the sleeves.

Pure artistry. Spending time with other yarn-a-holics is so inspiring. So absolutely inspiring that I am pleased to report that my needles also boast of a work in progress. Yep, this here is my Aestlight. You will note that the garter triangle is all finished and I am on to the better portions.

Gee, it does not look like much when it is all squished up. But it is, I assure you, artistry in yarn.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Knitted Sample Becomes Blanket

A screaming bird is not always the best sound produced by nature. And when the screams are not of joy, irritation and bafflement result. Constant screaming is exactly what this bird mother dealt with post holiday.

Upon returning home and placing Bert back in his cage, all manner of discomfort began. He was one very vocal and upset bird. Fresh food, scrubbed water bowl, light bath, free flight....all to no avail. Total misery for both of us.

What is a mother to do? In these busy and occasionally stressful weeks leading up to the big gifting, it is often appropriate to pre-gift. And that is exactly what this mom did. A quick dive into the stash of look what I knit in that class produced a lovely mitered sample just the right size to become a bird blanket.

Bert loves his new blankie. He talks to it. He hides under it. He sleeps on it.

Look carefully at this photo. Thinking me stupid, he even tried to hide the nuts and fruits so that I'll break into a fresh banana. Ah! The wonderful joys of a new knitted present.

PS - screaming has stopped.