Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Rubber Bands & Knitting

The rows and rows of seed stitch have become quite a big field of possibility.  Boredom has set in and progress is delayed.  This long vest is made from ShiBui heichi and will ultimately have almost 500 g of the stuff hanging from my shoulders.  I got to fretting if that weight would pull downward and stretch the arm holes.  I don't mind if the total length stretches as that as already been shortened by one inch due to my being short.

What to do?  Is it possible to stop fretting and just get on with the endless planting of seed stitch?  What came to mind was the need to test the weight of only the vest and pre-stretch the arm holes without blocking an incomplete item.  Now, readily do I admit that this idea might be anathema to Master Knitters, but I did not think of it on my own and might not be totally to blame for suggesting it. 

What we have here is two rubber bands (actually hair bands donated by daughter #1 to the cause - this is all her inventive contraption) that hold the circulars together and allow hanging from a hanger without fear of a mishap and loss of stitches.  Check out the chord of the circs and you see that it is pulling downward.

Way down at the bottom of the closet are the yarn balls that correspond to the fronts and back of the vest. 

Everything is nice and tidy with no pressure except for the weight of the garment. . .

In the middle of the rubber bands and the yarn balls is the vest.  This is as close as we could get to having only the weight of the garment itself impacting the stretch on the arm holes.  It is kind of like "dry blocking" if that concept actually exists. 

The goal is to mimic wearing and test out what will happen by the end of the day - or several days later.  Based on our dry hang test,  I will be deleting almost an inch from the pattern specified depth of the arm holes. 

My guess is that I will get raked over the proverbial coals on this one.  I'm sure that all manner of folks will tell me this does not work or it should not be done or that I have finally lost it and should resign from the knit world.    It's OK.  I saved about 30 minutes of knitting and those arm holes are customized to my body - - not some standard. 

Rubber bands & knitting.   It's a good thing in my book of tricks.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


At this time of year the calendar urges each one to pause and give thanks.  Of late, I have felt more burdened by a blue mood than lightened by rose colored glasses.  Consider what is on the needles:
  1. black alpaca scarf
  2. dark blue silk vest
  3. black & blue wool blend hat
The colors seemed to reflect the cloud hanging over me.  Dark and foreboding with no silver lining anywhere to be seen.  So, I went looking for reasons to cast aside the funk and get on with the Thanksgiving.

  • Funds are sufficient enough to purchase quality fiber.  I am thankful that the coffers are not dry.
  • My health allows me to participate in a friendly competition with a fellow knitter trying to discover who can complete a vest the fastest.  I am thankful for a pain free life.
  • My extended family brings bright moments to life and I know that the chosen hat recipient will be grateful.  I am thankful that close by or far away, family is family.
When looked at it all from a perspective of thanksgiving, my blue mood is very sunny! 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Planting Seeds

That's what is happening around these parts.  Planting seeds.  Row after row after row of seeds.
Over the hills and through the valleys, nothing but seed stitch.  This is what happens when one casually (and with no other intention than to spend a few minutes chatting) strolls into a yarn store and is struck with Commandment breaking covetousness at the simple sight of a competitor  fellow knitter casting on for a new project. 

Even before the Muscadine socks were photographed for this running rant of a blog, I had signed on the dotted line and possessed ten skeins of silk and a pattern known as Shadow.   I knit all weekend.  Regular readers know that at this time of year, I am partial to mindless knitting that does not interfere with weekend football watching.


The mindless seed planting is broken up with two cable inserts that, for this long vest, become the side seams (well, wannabe seams).

It's looking might fine up to this point.  Which is not even half way.

Good thing this is mostly mindless as I've half a mind to chuck it all and whip up bulky hat for a preemie!

Please jump in anytime with a comment of encouragement. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Muscadine Wine Socks

Perfection is complete!
 Well, these are perfection if you discount the cuff seam on one sock.  Try as I might, that seam just looked off.  Thus - - the photo taken from the front. 

Socks are so portable, perhaps that is why the working of them is quite popular.  What's that you say?  Have you never owned a pair of hand knit socks perfectly matched to your foot and calf with even the gusset precisely placed for your anatomy?  For shame.  It is time to either learn to knit socks OR make nice with a sock knitter.
For those in the know, the sideways cuff of this pattern did give me pause.  I fretted a bit on whether the garter work would be as effective as plain ribbing or if it would fail in the wearing.  So far, I am pleased.  

A gentle reminder:  
Muscadine Socks by Star Athena available here on Ravelry and also in Sockupied, Spring 2011.
made with Grape Vine (a limited edition) colorway by Baah!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Holiday Fluff

Many a woman loves a bit of sparkle for the upcoming holiday season.  Adding a little something new is easy and brings joy to both wearer and observer.

This is the latest craze to go through my favorite LYS.  Katia Triana Lux which comes in a variety of shades, this fabulous black/grey/cream combo with gold sparkles is my personal favorite.  Basically this is a variety of the popular mesh ruffle yarns with glitz added.

Luckily, I managed to grab a ball before it was all gone.  Currently, the staff just says "its on back order" to those of us waiting not so patiently for a new supply. 

In less time than it takes to watch a football game, a marvelous swath of festivity can be worked.   Folks are working this simple boa scarf with anywhere from five to ten stitches per row and using everything from a size 8 to a 13 needle.  The point here is that no new supplies are needed.  One ball, any needle, any number of stitches and VOILA!  In about two hours a gift is ready.

I love the way that this makes a ruffle when wound about the neckline.  It is spiffy whether worn as a traditional scarf or twirled and tucked like a huge collar.  

With something this wonderful, and a whole cadre of knitters & crocheters waiting impatiently, I sure hope that back order is already shipped!  

Monday, November 7, 2011

Ready To Go

Perhaps my most flexible piece of wooly work ever completed is ready to go. 

Check out the completed pullover!  This was an extremely fast knit, a quick seaming and then voila!  Done.  Here I have used the short sleeved sweater as an over garment in attempt to stay warm in the sudden global chilling that is Riverside.  Temps are below comfy and down toward the "how do you turn on the heat?" stage.

I did check out the ability to wear this under a plain button front shirt and that too will work.  The short sleeves are really just a continuation of the body and are worked entirely as ribbing.  That flexibility of the stretchy rib is what gives this sweater its flexibility.

This just might become a favorite packing wardrobe staple.  Notice how squarely and compactly it folds.  Love that!  Do take time to enlarge the photo and notice the cable and lattice work that makes this special.

The pattern includes optional long sleeves, so it is flexible if you live in or often visit a perpetually chilly climate. 

The specifics:

Yarn is Rustic Tweed from Queensland Collection.  63% Wool, 27% Alpaca, 10% Donegal.  It comes in 100g hanks so the 278 yards goes really far. 

Pattern is Lattice Cable Sweater from the book Easy Cable Knits for all seasons by Andra Knight-Bowman.  This is the second time I've made something from the book.  And I have my eye on yet a third pattern.  If you are looking for a good book filled with quick but attractive patterns, this is the ticket.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Color Works!

I am one of those who depend on others to tell me if a color works.  As in does one go with another (or two or three).  The trick I have learned is to depend heavily on the indie dyers out there.  They have it rocking!  My current favorite is Baah! from which the Muscadine socks are knit.  By the, should you be wondering, one sock is complete but finding time to cast on the second is turning out to be the real challenge for this pair.

But, back to color.  For more that several years Colleen Davis has inspired me to go bold with color.  This week, Colleen spoke to the San Diego North Coast Knitters Guild in Encinitas, CA.  We all need a refresher course in color gradation, color blips for pizazz and general success with a project.  

Colleen brought a whole heap of items to share and show how her color sense works.  This is more organized than the photo appears - there was a fashion show, items on a womannequin as well as the table of samples.

 To my right, just sitting there as knitters are want to do was this inspiration.  In the foreground, a knee length vest knit of textures in green and taupe with a shot of orange.  Talk about a blip of color!  But it worked!  Fabulously.  And I say that as one who does not do orange.

Just beyond, is a knitter after my own heart.  She bought a colorway that sways from bright to deeply shaded green and let the yarn do the talking with out interruption. 

Here is one of Colleen's creations.  Notice the gradation of purples on the back of this jacket.  Moving along the color spectrum as well as the texture spectrum gives her work a dimensionality that is like sculpture.

But then comes the pop of those reds and oranges  broken up by the darkest repeating of the purple.  Absolutely fabulous.   

I have several of Colleen's patterns.  The one that I did make - it was a vest in brown/black/gold - went away to an admirer.  Me thinks it is time to pull the stash and put together the colors for another Bold Knit.

 Check this out!  Talk about inspirational.  And Bold.  And so Colleen Davis.  I love the bottom two rows of color.  But moving into the middle and the top and I start to panic over the orange.  

Major hint from Colleen:  Stick to black to unify a color scheme.  White, when used in the same way as black, sucks the life out of all the surrounding color.  

I know that I tend to play it too safe with mixing it up.  I know that I am too safe (or wimpy) because I adore every thing in this basket.  Shades of Grey.  Only shades of grey.  Ahh.  Peaceful times both in the working and the wearing.  And so easy to blend in when what I'm wearing does not stand out in any way.

My heart belongs here, though.  Teal, jade and everything in and around those colors.  This to me is inspiring.  Not a blip of orange anywhere.

Thank you Colleen, you are an inspiration and living proof that color works!