Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Diagonal Design Is Knit

Guess what?  I can knit diagonal lines!   Perhaps you are not impressed, but I am amazed.  Please know that setting out to knit a garment for another body and having no pattern to follow can cause a million or two moments of stress.  Think about it.  Think about all of the things that must align in order to create a custom garment from thin air.
  1. An idea
  2. A photo or sketch
  3. Knowledge of yarn weights
  4. Knowledge of needle diameter
  5. Basic understanding of something called gauge
  6. Access to research tools such as stitch dictionary or internet access
  7. Willingness to look at other patterns for guidance
  8. Two bottles of merlot
  9. Multiple emails to clarify to goal
  10. Ordering of yarn
  11. Crying over discontinued color
  12. Surfing online yarn stores to find discontinued color of selected yarn somewhere out there
  13. Two bottles of Guinness 
  14. Waiting for yarn to arrive
  15. Blessings offered for shop owners who actually ship quickly - as in mere days!
  16. Gathering of support team who believe that you can actually convert a little bitty gauge swatch into a garment
  17. Offering good karma to Jacquie for her free support of lonely knitters wanting to chart a few stitches of lace
  18. Belief that frogging is part of knitting
  19. Faith to toss out supposed gauge swatch and forge on boldly
  20. Two bottles of pinot grigio and a good lemon
  21. Two hours of uninterrupted peace and quiet
  22. Friendly support team that expresses great pride in your ability to knit diagonal lines
  23. Ability to count - consistently - a lot - without fail
 I did it!  I am doing it!  I can knit diagonal lines that will become the requested tunic.  Yeah for me!

PS - Please don't go thinking that I consumed two bottles of merlot in one sitting.  It took time and help from a loved one.  Please don't go thinking that I consumed two bottles of pinot grigio in one sitting.  It took two loved ones and two weeks - but 'tis done.  As to the two bottles of Guinness. . . burp!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Picot Hem Is Finally Happy

Such a struggle, this designing from a photo.  I am finally moving along with the Rae project.  As they always tell us, third time is the charm.  I struggled with gauge and stitches to make the hem of this wonder.  But, I am finally happy and the yarn is happy.  It is so nice when it all works out.

This.  This right here is happiness.  

See how happily the stitches lay!  Flatness and  the actual blocking is weeks away.  Happy Stitches each and every one.   Even Lucy Neatby would consider these to be happy stitches.  I am not ready to tattoo these on my arm - ala Lucy - but they are might happy stitches.

Might I add, that the lace section is charted and counted and is actually further along than might appear here.  Thus the life line inserted should my master planning going forward not result in happy stitches.

PS - Louisa Harding Kashmir DK in Dark Teal (alas - colorway is discontinued) worked on my trusty #7. 

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring Has Sprung And The Knit Is Done

One month of knitting and traveling and I have the perfect new top for Spring and Summer.  Even better - it fits!

You can find this Spring Fling pattern in the April 2007 issue of Knit 'N Style.  The original is from and with Twisted Sisters.    The pattern is very fun to make.  The result is an open work mesh, thus you will be quite comfy matching the perfect undergarment to your color scheme.  CAUTION:  wearing of garment sans appropriate undergarment in bright sunshine may result in uneven tan spots. 

The sleeve, such as it is, is just a few extra stitches cast on to slightly lengthen the shoulder coverage.   I really like this.  It is not a tank where one feels too young and uncovered.  This can easily be worn in the morning and not break the southern rule.  Well, it is a rule that I grew up with and I am southern.  "A lady never bares her shoulders in the morning."
Here is the total length.  I made the short version as specified in the pattern and, owing to my total shortness, it is the perfect length.  Taller folks might think twice before the sleeve portion.  

The front and back are made exactly the same.  No difference at all meaning that this fling can be grabbed from the drawer and slipped on without any thinking.  Some days, even finding the front of a garment is a pain.

The block hem is left open.   I will admit that worries did plague me.  But it is such a short bit of knitting that it looks and works just fine.  If this were sewn together the open mesh of the body would, in all likelihood, blouse and poof.  Yes, there is poofery in the photo - more related to my contortions trying to suck it in than to any pattern generation. 

All in all - a superb pattern that includes learning opportunities and skill advancement.  Perhaps I'll make another.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Inserting the Mitered Rectangles

'Tis done!  Yes, the deed is done.  Look at how perfectly the mitered rectangles inset into the neck opening.   There was some trepidation my part.   The old "but I have never done that" feeling was quite prominent during the beginning.

The pattern directs that the first rectangle is the one showing here in the lower right corner.  Then the lower middle is picked up and completed followed by the lower right rectangle.  Having accomplished that successfully, working the matching three rectangles (that appear at the top of this photo) is a cinch.

 And then that old feeling of doubt rises up again.  Will the  rectangles that span the shoulder seam actually fit in correctly?  Is the space is too big for the required stitches?  Why does this seem floppy?   AARRGH!  Gloom, despair and agony on me.   I might have hummed a few bars of that tune.  

A deep breath brought that sense of calm that we all strive for and one thought settled within my brain.  One stitch at a time.   One stitch at a time and it will work out.  Fitting in the side/shoulder rectangles required picking up stitches across the top of the corner rectangle then over the shoulder and across the top of the other corner.  Voila!  That done and miraculously the stitches tightened up and - perhaps most importantly - the stitch count worked out.  
Here is the almost completed neck upon my neck.    Do please notice that in the photo the final edging is not applied.  So there is a bit of work yet to be done.  I am very, very pleased with these mitered rectangles fitting into the neckline.    Having read the next portion of the pattern, I am struck that the finishing dictates that on a particular round to work a k3tog in each corner.  Now, I ask you, will not that put a rounded look to this rectangular hole?  
What's with that? 

Friday, March 12, 2010

Two New Knitting Skills

This neck, which will be awesome upon completion, is causing a bit of angst.  Oh, sure.  The exact same rectangles from the bottom edge are repeated here.  Having made ten of the little buggers earlier in the project, that part is just fine and dandy.

But the fitting into the mesh...another story all together.  Having come this many years down the knitting path there are a few things that are part of the skill set.  I can pick up stitches.  I can pick up and knit stitches.  I can work with live stitches from a stitch holder.

What I have never encountered is knitting the live stitches from a stitch holder while also picking up and knitting stitches in  between the live stitches.  Never even thought about it.  But, in order to get the correct number of stitches for the bottom of the rectangle, one must (after the first nine stitches are found) knit off sixteen stitches from the holder and - at the same time - pick up and knit four additional stitches.  Evenly spaced of course.  But you already knew that because you knit.  Right?

Thankfully the pattern suggests that the easiest method is the trusty Make On by picking up the bar between two live stitches.  I have a new skill!  Yeah for me.

The other new skill that I have gained during this first bit of neckline knitting is the ability to count to eighteen.  I think this one will come in quite handy in the future.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A World of Fiber Education

There is an entire world of fiber  with which I am not familiar.  Yarns from around the world that could excite me.  Colors that have the potential to complement my preferred color palette.   A happenstance conversation, a brief phone call and suddenly I had the opportunity to fondle and purchase yarns from around the world.   Notice that I am not admitting to increasing the stash.  Oh no - not that.  I increased my knowledge of international fiber arts.   It was purely educational.  That's my story and I am sticking to it.

This is Mosaica by Paolo Scettri.  Italy.  60/40 Wool/Acrylic. 

With the teal running throughout, this color #306 is certainly in my favorite shades.   So what is the education to be had?  What have I learned?  I learned that once upon a time (don't know how old this stuff actually is) my preferred color scheme hit a chord on an international scale proving that I am not always in left field.

And here we have Maya by Novita.  Novita is, based upon hurried research, a local yarn from Finland.  70/30 Alpaca/Highland wool.    Yummy!

This one is definitely a stretch for me.  Never have I been accused of being an 'off white - beige' kind of person.    The educational part on this one is easy - what part of local Finnish yarn did you miss?  

Oh, my!  Talk about not my shade and this comes to mind.  This is Fil Katia Soda made in Spain.  Note the wisps waving proudly and you might be thinking odd combination of cotton, viscose and nylon.  You'd be right. 

This color (the photo on this end monitor is right on) is so far afield that no one in my extended family considers it as us.  Thus I just had to have it.  This is stretching my wings and daring to consider something different.  And isn't that what education is all about?  The new.  The different.  The stretching.  The growing. 

And finally, we have this.   Made in the USA.  So, if I were from Spain or Finland or Italy, this would be an international yarn.   This is slub rayon from Longview Yarns - aka USA Yarns out of North Carolina.

It shines.  It reminds me of my dancing daughters and years of ballet. 

The educational lesson - the past is prologue.  I still see certain shades of muted or pale pinks and think of all those tutus and costumes and that once upon a time the cost of each fouette was calculated down to the dollar.   

Ballet, in case you do not already know, is quite an expensive habit.   By comparison, these yarns are but a mere drop in the family budget bucket. 

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Holey Knitting

Suddenly, after all this knitting, I am in love with holes.  My Spring Fling continues to have just enough YO K2Tog as to cause occasional attention.  But not so much that the mind can't wander around and ponder.  The resulting holes are fun - nigh on to flirty.   

Much of what you see here has occurred either waiting for a flight to begin or waiting for a flight to end.   I am in travel mode - six weekends straight of airline dullness.  But it is marvelous for getting a project done!  Perhaps what I love most about knitting holes while traveling is all of the attention said holes conjure up.  
Strangers stop and offer all manner of conversation.  The simple query is "What is it?"  More worldly strangers (or should that be "sophisticated yarn-a-holics) ask from whence came the pattern and fibre.  What amazes me is the number of travelers out there who start a chat with "Oh!  I did that a long time ago."  What does that mean exactly?  Once upon a time you loved making fabric from yarn whilst simultaneously creating a garment that is custom fit to a specific body but now you don't love doing it any more.  Surely not!

Perhaps what these kind souls mean is that once upon a time, they found the time to feel a rhythm - to be one with fiber and to create.  But, life has intervened and now - seeing me knit holes - they are left to fret as to why they no longer give in to the creative muse that is string and stick.  

As for me.  Right now I am happy with making holes to pass the time while traveling.