Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Colorful Completion

Tis done!  Two matching wristers are completed and all of those ends are woven in.  Even the picot hems are stitched neatly into place.

Things I loved about BBR's class and this project:
*  discovering that working a cast on edge with two colors is exactly the same as working with one color.  Huge impact with the same old thing.

* accepting that changing color on every row results in lots and lots of ends that look like dreadlocks needing to be controlled.

* acknowledging that weaving in ends is nothing to dread.  Fretting takes more time and doing.

*  delighting in the mystery that is twined knitting - or purling as a the case may be.

Here we have visual proof that two matching little wrist cuffs are completed.  The colors make me happy and bring a bit of festivity to a black sweater.  I am particularly happy with this:

The fit!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Learning From A Master

Dinner with Beth Brown-Reinsel was a relaxed joy.   Beth was in town to teach for two local guilds and a few of us took her to dinner on Friday evening.  The conversation flowed and circled around and through lots of topics.  Her three European teaching trips over the summer provided all manner of query and response.  The just released program for Stitches West brought another lively topic.

Then, there was the sourcing of yarn for twined knitting and a lovely discussion of S-ply vs. Z ply and Europe vs. America vs. the world.  Beth is quite handy with the facts and rationale for all manner of yarn manufacture.  Beth also told us (OK - shameless plug for her shameless plug for the event) about her next teaching cruise in 2012 up to Alaska.  The details are not yet posted but you'll want to drool over at the Craft Cruises website.

Saturday brought a full day of classes with this dynamic teacher.  We studied  various cast on methods and how to incorporate more than one color into the start of a project.  The whole afternoon was devoted to exploring traditional motifs and techniques by completing  Latvian Wristers.  

Completing - might be too strong of a word.  Working toward completion is a better description.  This is my first wrister.  The knitting is done; there is much post-production work on the horizon!  I am thinking that the best course is to complete the mate and then deal with the weaving and hemming in one sitting.  This work has me so excited that I do not wish to go to the dark side of second wrister syndrome and never finish the mate.  

Never did I think of my self as loving fiddly color work much less gaining proficiency at twined work.   I am hooked - not in a crochet way, rather in smitten with these techniques.  Just look at that loveliness.  Once those ends are woven to close up the color change holes and the picot hem is turned inside this will be a work of art and inspiration.  Already the skills learned in this few inches are banging around in the knit vision and all manner of possible incorporation into next projects is coalescing in my little brain. 

Thank you Beth!  Another student is addicted to this style - especially that herringbone braid.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Don't Say "I Can't"

We hear it often.  Or we say it often.  "I can't teach."  It is akin to uttering all manner of defeatist thinking whilst knitting, crocheting, spinning, weaving, tatting, or the like.    Spewing out the can't word repeatedly is like living in the land of Devil's Advocate.  Let's move on over to the land of asset based thinking and focus on the word CAN.

I can teach others about knitting.  And so can all my yarn loving friends.  One thing I love about participating in a TKGA local guild is being encouraged to participate as both student and as teacher.  This week it was my turn to teach in a year long activity of my local guild.  (I would put in a link to the Riverside Knitting Guild, but our website is offline undergoing a total overhaul, so right now is not a good time to click over. )

Each month, a member is teaching a new stitch.  Perhaps I've told you all about this in a prior post.  And it was finally my opportunity.  I chose to teach Supple Rib.  All manner of descriptions exist so Google away. 

Or just follow along with the way that I taught the stitching.

Working with a multiple of 3 stitches:
R1 - K1, K the next stitch but leave it on the needle, p2tog
R 2 - Purl across

To be fair, I have seen this worked without the plain K1 so that it becomes simply the knit 1 and leave on needle, p2tog.  Knitters choice and please do what pleases you and the look your want to achieve.

What I find odd, is that the simple step of knitting a stitch, but leaving it on the needle to work the p2tog causes confusion.   If you have ever  knit one front and back (k1fb) then you know the drill.  Knit and get that loop over to the right needle, then do something with the loop still on the left needle before dropping it off.  Supple Rib is the same concept - you already know how it works.  Instead of knitting into the back of the loop still on the left needle, move the yarn into the purl position and insert the right needle into two stitches (the one you did not slip off and the next stitch) and purl them together.  

That's it!  That is all that is required to learn the Supple Rib.  And I just taught you.  Wow.  I CAN teach.   And I have every confidence that you can teach this to someone else.   Get out there and teach and learn. 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Very Twisted Knitting

It is still quite hot here in the desert.  And football season is now heating up as well.  I enjoy a good football project and the current one on the needles makes for good pigskin watching. 
This is the back of Vest With A Twist  from Easy Cable Knits for All Seasons by Andra Knight-Bowman.  The vest is featured on the cover of the book and really caught my eye.

The particular pattern is worked side to side which means that throwing in k1p1 rows makes nice vertical lines when turned into the normal orientation.  Being under height for my current width (aka short & wide) anytime the illusion of vertical length can be incorporated into the wardrobe I am the first in line to get it.

The pattern is very adaptable.  Although designed as a sleeveless vest, directions for optional sleeves are given.  I will definitely add the sleeves and hope for a cool winter.  

The cable pattern is the real star here and is worked both on the back and the front.  It is a very simple four row twist.  That is a lot of twisting because every right side row is cabled.  As you can imagine, stopping on every row to look for a cable needle gets quite distracting after just a few hunting expeditions.    I finally had to admit that it was useless to try to keep the little sucker in sight and gave in to working the cable sans cable tool.  

If you don't already know how to work cables without that special needle, you really should give it a try.  All manner of resources are available to help.  So head on over to YouTube and look up the many videos.  It really is easy and not too fiddly at all.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Big Outcome

The little string and big hook of my previous post resulted in this big success.  The Magnificent Mantle from here and all over Ravelry.  The pattern was created to be crochet version of the very popular Aestlight Shawl that hit the yarn community last year.  From afar, the Mantle bears a strong resemblance to Aestlight.  Kudos to CrochetKitten!  Well done.

A few modifications from the original were made in my version.  First, I lost track of the number of rows on the triangle section, so I just went with the look of it.  Remember, the original pattern call for worsted and this Sekku is lace weight.  That makes for a huge difference and adjustments are required.   My goal was to have a shawlette size suitable for covering my neck without causing excessive body "glow" in this dessert.

Another modification was deleting two rows of the open mesh work that is the bird's eye lace of the Aestlight.  It would be wonderful if I could tell you that I deleted those rows out of some aesthetic or visual appeal or personal belief system.  The real reason that the two rows went away - - fear of running out of yarn!  As simple as that.  Crochet really chews up the yardage and I am out of practice in looking at what is left to accomplish vs what is left on the ball.  It is important to note that this size Magnificent Mantle was completed with one ball of Noro Sekku.

Also, I did not work the very last row of the pattern.  No particular reason as enough yarn was still on the ball.  Maybe I got tired and did not want another UFO in the closet.

The Sekku blocks out well.   But then I tend to really soak the fiber for a good fifteen minutes and then stretch a lot.  This resulted in a very lacy shawl that bears little visual relation to the original worsted weight shawl.  Using this method of well wet yarn and sturdy blocking pins, the center triangle - extended single crochet - opened up quite a bit and is not a solid mass of stitches.  Very flexible, light and interesting.  

 Yep, this is a big successful outcome.  Enough color to add zip to any day and big enough to block the late afternoon breeze.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Little String - Big Hook

At first, the new project absolutely felt like a little string and a too big hook.  Actually, more like a cobweb and a harpoon.   Isn't that just the way of it?  You see, for several days, I had worked to finish the back of a new pullover done up in  a nice worsted.  There is something about DK and Worsted that fits my fingers and hands quite well.  Very well, indeed.   So well, that the knitting - or crocheting - is fast.

And then came the purchase.  This is Noro Sekku.  Sekku is a lace weight in the Noro tradition that we love so well.  Lots of  color changes that cause anticipation and excitement in each ball of the stuff.   And - you will want to note this - lots of Noro traditional bumps along the way.   Look carefully at the photo and you will see what I mean.
After a bit of research, it seemed appropriate to work this lace with a F hook (3.75 mm).  The ball band is looking for knitting needles in the 2.0 - 2.5 mm range.  Why did I use the F crochet hook?  Because that is what CanadianCupcake (Ravelry) used to make her Magnificent Mantle.  It is important to understand that the Magnificent Mantle (a crochet adaptation of Aestlight Shawl) is written for worsted weight yarn and yours truly is not following the suggestion of worsted and going with lace weight.  Thus the Ravelry research that  led me  to flattering CC by following her hook selection. 

Having now completed the triangle portion of the shawl and moved on to the sides and open trellis type work, I no longer feel like the hook is a harpoon.  Finally, the webby string and hook are one.  And to think, it has only taken two airplane flights and one pedicure to feel one with the hook and string.  AAAHHH........

Monday, September 6, 2010

Annual Plug For Donating Knitting

In one short month from now, the Riverside Knitting Guild will present local law enforcement with Precious Pals to use in the coming year.  Once again, this program that puts a handful of love in the grasp of local children is my chosen effort.  

It takes such a short time to outfit a bear or two.  This gentleman only wanted a floppy bow tie.  And the little miss needed a ruffly skirt and matching bow.

Both the tie and skirt are crocheted from bits left over from my recent shawl phase.  Every time I pull out an animal to dress, there are whispers.  Soft whispers from each telling me what he or she has to offer to a child.  I must believe that these Precious Pals speak.  And more importantly that they can listen - to a child in need.

This gent, with the simple bow, told me that he does not need much for himself and that clothes just get in the way of absorbing tears.  It is true.  He did tell me exactly that.

This strong man with the steady eyes spoke of wanting to be a super hero - thus the black cape with sparkles of gold.  It is a mighty cape knit with enough strength to protect the vulnerable.   I do believe, that given freedom, this Mighty Bear can fly.

This holiday weekend a whole family of super heroes appeared.  They are excited to know that in just four short weeks, each will move to a foster home in the back of a police cruiser or at the station and then, sometime in the coming months a child will adopt these critters and they can give love.  

The bear  family gathered for a photo and talked quite a bit about gaining strength to absorb need, to banish tears and to bring love.

Here is September Super Family discussing their futures.   Note that Super Bear flew up to the top of a tall candle stick! 

That's one quick knit and crochet day for me.

One giant bunch of loving Precious Pals.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

When Life Gives You Lemons

The phrase about lemons is most typically uttered in reference to something that has gone awry.  Kaput.  Unexpected.  And oft that is true.  This time, however, I am forced to utter the bon mot after an accident of my own making.  No compelling defense exists.  Just a stupid mistake.

One snip of the blade and pop, ping, bounce and roll.
Beads scattered all over the tile like the star birth of the universe.  I don't have to tell you that round things roll.  Round things roll far and fast.  Round things hide in grout lines and in the shadow of a kick plate.

Well, I learned a valuable lesson.  Always wear the cheater lenses when snipping the price tag from a new bead-dangled accessory.

Never mind that the repair process required an actual shopping trip for stretchy elastic.  But, if beading is not your thing you may not know that all manner of decisions are required when purchasing stretchy stuff.  

First is the worry over how much stretchy cord to buy.  Because bead work is not really my thing - at least as it relates to jewelry making as opposed to adding blingness to yarn - building in a mistake or two seemed like a plan to make that proverbial lemonade from these sparkly lemons.  The temptation to start a stash of the stretchy stuff was upon me.  And I resisted!  Somewhere in the great cosmic  tally sheet there is a check by my name for avoiding temptation and not starting a whole new stash devoted to making stretchy bracelets and the like.  

Second is the fretting over what gauge to buy.  Having no experience with the stuff was a bit scary, but it turns out that jewelry making shoppers are just as friendly as yarn using shoppers.  A very nice woman suggested that I procure .7mm stretchy cord for my foray into bracelet making.  It was her belief that the spool was the most economical decision and thus the possibility of making several attempts to make a sturdy bracelet was moot.  There is a considerable amount of cord on a spool.  Just saying.

For decision number three, the kind shopping advisor even pointed out the nifty beading needles that come five to a pack.  So, in a small way a stash has been started.
Figuring out what order to configure the beads is actually a fun hurdle to overcome!  It is somewhat akin to plotting stitch usage and choosing multiple yarns for color work.

Maybe there is something to this making lemonade thing.  Look on the sunny side of life.  Rose colored glasses and all that gleefulness espoused by the happy folk.

I did it!  Failing eyesight and the scissors with a mind of their own gave me lemons.  And darn it - I made lemonade.
And there are still five beading needles and a barely used spool of stretchy cord left.  

I need more beads.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Another Aestlight to delight!  I love making this pattern even though the edging still seems to go on for ever and a day.

Mostly, this pattern knits itself.  A few knitterly friends are struggling with the bird's eye lace pattern.  I offer support & try to say all the right things, but I just don't understand why they struggle.  The lace is offset and so looking at what was done lets one know what needs to be done.  My mind thinks this way.

But hey - I hate the edging.  Specifically row 2.  Can't tell you why.  Even after working the reprise of the pattern, I still struggle with that bit.

I suppose the point is that each of us is unique and therefore our string struggles are unique.

Here is a view of the open shawl.  All in all, the blocking turned out quite nice and I'm happy with the points.

Aestlight  Shawl.   Many versions on Ravelry, so check out all the versions out there.

Yarn is  Grass from Plymouth Yarn Company  65% cotton, 35% hemp

Knit on size 6US.

This shawl looks better on daughter #2 than on moi.  But she can't have it, yet.  The Guild is having an Aestlight shawl program next month and I want to bring both of my Aestlight shawls for showing and sharing.