Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Subtle Texture

Mindless knitting is still on my mind.  Life is at a stage where thinking about stitches interferes with what I should be thinking about.  My fingers still need to move and a project that could span a few weeks seemed to be just the thing.

And so, a new blanket hit the needles.  Alternating blocks of Stockinette and Reverse Stockinette supply the texture.  The outer band of seed stitch supplies the non-curling edges. 

At this point all that I need to think about  is a few seed stitches followed by eight knits and eight purls then another few seed stitches.  That is it.  Well, there is the pesky alternating every ten rows which so far is not a problem.  Perhaps the best part of this basic work is that it is easy to stop at any point and pick up again after a multitude of decisions are made.

I'm not sure how large it will be.  The plan is to keep going until the yarn runs out.  It might be a lap blanket, baby blanket or television watching blanket. 

Oh, give me stash
Lots of stash
Under hidden piles somewhere
Don't squelch my joy!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Market Style

Have you joined the bandwagon that is the stylish market bag?  Do you walk the Farmer's Market with a multi - use shopping tote?  Are you ready for the demise of the plastic bag? 

Enter Ilene.  Ilene is an extremely stretchy market bag designed by Hannah Ingalls.   When I finished the pattern instructed depth of the bag I was convinced there was no way this little eight inches would ever function for a trip to the heirloom tomato vendor.   (No, that isn't an heirloom in the photo)  It made me happy to discover that the simple lace mesh design really stretches - - to the extreme!

The strap is nice and wide.  This is really a benefit.  As the bag is filled with goodies, it gets heavy.  That wide strap helps to distribute the weight and it does not dig into the shoulder like narrower straps are want to do.

I am so thrilled with the quick and easy result that I foresee making several more.  Linen, cotton, blends - all in my sights.  Anything that is strong and can be washed should make a fine Ilene bag.

Kudos to Hannah for providing a perfectly written pattern for a totally functional item and giving the design away as a free download.  That's right.  FREE.  Hop on over to her Ravelry page or blog and download.  It would be nice is you leave her a thank you note.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Testing Pool

One of the activities at the recent WWKIP day here in Riverside was the opportunity to help make an informed decision for a LYS.  Nancy arrived with a baggie of sample skeins of a yarn she was considering adding to the shelves.  She wanted opinions on whether to add in the new sock yarn in question, use it to replace something currently offered or politely say "no thank you" to the offer.

As many of you know all to well, I have opinions.  And I readily offer said opinions.

It was easy to predict that all of those knitters would knit up a sample.  Not wanting to be a part of the crowd on this one, I decided to crochet up a little of the stuff and see if it would hold up well under the hook.

First, and this is extremely important to me especially if actually knitting socks from sock yarn, there was no color transfer to my fingers.  This sample was soaked in hot water, wrung (oh the horror of actually wringing and twisting something that has twist) out and put on white paper towel to check for bleeding under duress of sweaty feet.

I'm pleased to report that there was still no color transfer after the abuse.  Cool.  That was the best part.

Stitch definition was fairly OK.  Not superb, but OK.  So I gave it a "normal" rating on that.

Where disappointment reared its head was in the fuzz department.  Just these few rounds of crochet and already a bit of fuzz appeared due to the handling, wrapping, pulling, etc that is yarn work.  My conclusion - - the yarn is not so great for socks, but would hold up fine for a lace shawl or scarf.  Definitely not new born baby worthy due to the bits of fuzziness.  However,  I'm willing to bet that any four year old would love picking off the bits!

You'll notice that I have not identified the yarn.  That's because I was one of the testers that did not get a label.  I went into the experiment blind with no preconceived opinion based on the label or maker.  All in all, this was a fun activity.  I wish more store owners would get customers involved during the  pre-order phase.  If this yarn shows up on Nancy's shelves, I'll know that for me it is better for neck wear than for foot wear and not my preference for baby gifting.  But, owing mostly to no color transfer, I'd still probably buy a few skeins - - for the right price.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Funny or Sad?

Picture yourself sitting at Monday night knitting, waiting for everyone to arrive.  Arriving folks are laden with bags stuffed with the project(s) du jour, the success stories and - just to make it interesting and ripe for a few laughs - the what the bejeezus happened to it UFO.  The successes of other knitters is worthy of mention. 

Absolutely worthy. 

But not as much fun as something that is  really sad/funny in that what the bejeezus happened to it way that causes snorts of laughter and belly busting guffaws.

"Now what do I do?"  That is all it took for a table filled with goofball knitters to get the giggles and snide remarks going.

If you know your garment construction rules, it will be obvious to you that this sleeve is not remotely going to stretch enough to fit the depth of this gigantic armhole.  Or, to put it another way, there is no way the armhole is going to ease (gather?) enough to accommodate the normal size sleeve.  The photo doesn't do justice to the actual knitting.  Suffice it to say that said opening stops just shy of the intended's waist. 

My suggestion was not met with delight.  I suggested that the knitter should just make the garment sleeveless, wear it over a white tank top, sans bra and add Birkenstocks and lovely hand knit socks to complete the ensemble. 

There was laughter. 

Then there were serious suggestions that did not involve frogging half a sweater.  There was shared misery.   After all, who hasn't been faced with such "oddities" of yarn?   All in all - - - a normal Monday knit night. 

And that is probably the real reason that I love what I do.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Little Bit Jealous

The world has just finished celebrating World Wide Knit In Public Day which actually takes place over a whole week.  Stretching out the merriment allows many options of day and time for groups to gather and share the skill that is knitting - or crocheting or spinning or weaving or dyeing or...well, you get the point.

There were two WWKIP events in Riverside.  The first was held in a local mall environment and thanks to the great management at the Galleria, the knitters were center stage in center court.  Unfortunately I could not attend, but the guild put up a display, yarn and needles were donated and introduction to knitting took place.

I did attend the second WWKIP day on Saturday.  We gathered at an outdoor shopping center and did our thing for over three hours.  Kudos to the center and local merchants

The attendance was a mix of guild members and customers of our two local yarn stores.  Knitting With Sandra and Designer Hand Knits both had goodies for the attendees.  Riverside is a friendly place and both owners, Sandra and Nancy, could be seen chatting about yarns, patterns, the retail business and shared customers.  Those two can be living proof that  coopetition is more than just game theory.

There was more than just knitting and crocheting action.  Many attendees were dressed in their finery - and thus the reason for the title of this post. 

This gorgeous blue is perfectly executed, perfectly blocked and ideal for a summer day.
 Check out this cotton sweater.  Every "block" was different.  A study in stitchery highlighted by mismatched sleeves.  Cool!
 Hot, Hot, Hot.  Love the bind off.
And lest we forget that winter is just six months away, look at the color work on these sleeves.  Impressive.

Yep.  I'm a little bit jealous of all the talent.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Ragged Around The Edges

This space should be occupied by a photo of what is ragged around the edges.  If said photo were here, I would be mortified.  Absolutely ashamed that you could see what has happened to my hand knits.  Suffice it to say, that the knits in question are meant to be used and abused until ragged, worn and ready for the trash bin.  The sense of shame is in how long I let the situation continue when it is so fast and easy to correct.

Basic kitchen dishcloths are meant to be hard working functional items.  And in my kitchen they get worked out daily.  Scrubbing cast iron (sans soap of course) tends to wear the cotton more than spiffing up glassware.

There isn't much that can be said about this utilitarian knitting.  Two cloths can be made from one ball of cotton.  And when it is purchased at 40% off - these are the deal of the house.

Just to break up the work, this second dishcloth will be plain double moss stitch.  It is bumpy, lays flat without curling and still scrubs well.  That sums up what I need. 

Sometimes it feels as though basic household item knitting or crocheting is the poor relation to highfalutin couture yarn work.  Why is that?  A dishcloth is as necessary as a pair of socks.  Perhaps even more necessary as cleanliness in the kitchen is vital to health.  Socks, for all their warmth in cold climates, are just pedicure protectors here in the desert.

I started out to tell you about the interruption of the "real knitting" with humble cotton necessities.  After thinking about it, I am proud to show off my aids to human health.  Thrilled to share with you that my kitchen is neat, tidy and free of old germ laden rags.  Whoo Hoo!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Amphibian Tunic

The bright berry of this silk does not look much like any amphibian that I studied way back in zoology.  No.  It does not.  And yet I am determined to name this one Amphibian because of how many times it has been frogged.

The pattern wants several rows of garter as the bottom hem.  This will control the miles of stockinette.  And I did it.  Garter in the round.  Well, with all respect and honor to EZ, this time the garter looked out of place.  That silk looked unkempt and plain wonky.  It might have come out in the wash.  I was not willing to chance it. Three inches in, I frogged it all and reworked the bottom edge with my own thing and moved onward with the stockinette.

The pattern is very specific in its wording.  There is even a strong reminder to check gauge.  Taking that caution to heart, I checked gauge - specifically row gauge.  That seemed most important because  decreases are specified every so many cm/inches based upon the size.  A little math, a few markers appropriately spaced and I was moving at lightening speed.  I even remembered the decreases and kept track of rows in my own mnemonic fashion.

Almost four skeins into it and practically ready to separate  front from back, the stitch count started to feel odd.  Odd in that way that says, "Self, the bottom of this will fit around your bottom, but there is no way this part can stretch around what is up top."  I paused the needles and actually counted stitches.

How could this be?  I am never so far off!  (OK, maybe my stitch count is off occasionally.  But not so much that a little fudging here and there can't bring the stitches back into submission.)

Enter help.  Another set of eyes on the pattern:
  • Dec 1 st to the right and to the left alternately of all markers every X cm/in.
Alternately.  ALTERNATELY:  as in decrease  on the right side of the marker and the next time (every X cm/in) you decrease it is worked on the left side of the marker.   Yep, you guessed it.  I was decreasing on both the right and left of the markers (sounded like "alternate" sides to me).  The result was that on every decrease row, I was taking out twice the number of stitches as was specified.  No wonder the thing would not go around what I've got up top.

Frogged it all - again.  Two hundred eighty eight meters of silk.  That's a lot of frogging and rewinding.   Scribbled over my mnemonic row count to clearly indicate R & L for where to place the decreases. I'm on the fourth decrease of seven repeats.  The little cross marks that turns each tick mark into a plus sign show my current progress.

Amphibian is, hopefully, on track. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Slim Pickings

There is so little to report on this first of June that the camera did not even make an appearance. 

  • The colorful top down is complete.  No photo because I've decided that the "hot orange" stripe in the Noro is just not my thing.  To be sure others are still trying to convince me that I'm wrong.  They are using words such as vibrant coral and flamingo and (the ever dreadful) that's what is in the stores now!  Their words have moved me a little.  I hung the thing in the closet and will keep it for a while.
  • The cotton Multnomah is quite the hit in my favorite LYS.  Several other knitters are making it and each color way looks stunning.  I just might have to pull mine from display and bring it home for a good wearing.  Of course, so many folks have tossed it about their necks, that the thing will need a good wash soon.  It has turned into a very popular shop sample.  And that makes me happy.
  • I had set myself a personal goal to finish all of the UFOs.  Only one more to go and this yarnaholic will have met that goal.  Perhaps there will be a photo when this last little blanket comes off the hook.  
  • Wait a minute!  I can't be done.  There is still yarn in the stash.  Clearly I must get cracking and cast on like a mad woman or y'all will think me a slacker.