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Thursday, June 01, 2006

A knitting compulsion

I had an irresistible urge to try twined knitting. In May in Chicago, I had to make a mitten that is double-thick for warmth and wind-break! The most informative instructions I could find were by Theresa and the best part were the pictures. After digging up the needles I would use for mittens, and finding yarn that seemed like enough to make a mitten, I sat in my rocking chair on Thursday, while waiting for D#1 to get home from college, and proceeded to knit.

I began to have questions -
- do I really have to rewind my yarn so that a string comes off from outside and another from inside? I used a skein and pulled from the outside and the inside.
- does twined knitting use twice as much yarn as regular knitting? The skein seemed to be disappearing pretty fast.
- are you supposed to make a swatch? Is there a gauge to twined knitting?
- what size needle are you supposed to use?
- is this mitten going to fit?

I will call my first project a cuff:

Some things just aren't instinctive. On Friday I ordered instructions and suggested yarn to make twined mittens and twined socks from Blackberry Ridge. I also am waiting for a book: Gibson-Roberts, Priscilla~KNITTING IN THE OLD WAY NEW. I'm very excited.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Knitting within your means

I went to a gauge workshop last Saturday and was startled to find out that I have been knitting by the seat of my pants. I have never done a swatch in all my knitting life. Huh!

Gauge apparently tells you if your dreams for this yarn will come true. Coordinating the needles, chasing the balls that roll across the floor, shewing away the cats who want to play with the (slowly, jerky) moving yarn is not enough. You have to know that the stitches will measure across and up (or down) to the right size. I have made a handful of sweaters for my daughters over the years, especially when they were young. I'm thinking their continuously growing bodies saved me from despair, except when I didn't knit fast enough or conscientiously enough (and they grew bigger before the sweater was done). I made a sweater for my husband, I made a sweater on consignment! Do you really have to swatch if the arms end up being long enough?

I left the workshop, as the shopowner noticed, a little mad. The one bit of good news is the shopowner did not recommend making the swatch 40x40 so that I measure the 20x20 area (or 19x27 as the project I brought in required) in the middle of the stitches. She can make a swatch in 20 minutes. It took me more than 2 hours on Saturday morning to do my workshop homework. And I didn't finish the swatch.

Even socks - you are supposed to swatch socks? Afghans? Afghans aren't worn. Baby sweaters to be given away to charity that matches the sweater to the baby? The purpose of gauge/swatch is to make sure you have enough yarn to finish the project. I hate living within a budget.

The most interesting piece of information came when we were examining the pattern I was going to work (Interweave Knits, Summer 2006, Cambridge Cardigan). My swatch that I started on size 9, then 7, then finally 6, showed 17 stitches/4in (a long runner of knitting because I gotta do it my way). Supposed to be 19.5. I still don't know how this is possible (but she's the pro!) but my whining exasperation finally came to an end when I blamed the yarn - is it the fiber content? The pattern called for Cascade 220 (wool) but I have 20 skeins of Patons Canadiana (acrylic) that I bought for the Knitting Olympics. Acrylic doesn't have the finesse of a natural fiber. I am going to make a pattern that requires cotton. I made a swatch and it kind of matches the suggested gauge.

My gauge nightmare next time.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Knitting and cats

I've been busy! I've been busy! Here is a pair of socks that I made:

I originally bought the yarn to make a pair of socks for Giselle, since I made a pair for Peggy one Christmas, but G likes black. This yarn seemed red, after I got it home. It languished in the stash for a while - couldn't use it for anyone in Indiana because of the wool content! I prefer more cheery yarn to knit for my socks. And maybe I could talk myself into thinking G would like it. Then my sister sent me a surprise from California - fresh strawberries! My sister thinks highly of strawberries as a gift - she brought them to us in Northern Ireland, even after the airport guy found them. Those were from our mother's garden. He must have been a soft-touch because he let the potentially lethal fresh fruit through. So I wasn't surprised to find the big juicy berries, packed in an egg carton in the overnight UPS package. The gift made sense.

My sister deserved a surprise back - I told her I was going to make her a pair of socks, though, because I needed her foot measurement. She didn't send this to me, but I remember that we wore basically the same size shoe, although different in taste. I was happy that the self-patterning yarn created such an obvious pattern. Recent forays into self-patterning yarn were defeated by not observing the correct gauge/needle size (chicken or the egg? I find out at the gauge workshop at Nana's Knits on Saturday).

But my sister doesn't know she gets lumberjack socks. You might notice that one sock ends with a grey stripe. You know that one foot is a different size? That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Just so you know how seriously I took these socks, I made them from the top down. I really like the toe-up method but the two pairs I have made using that method don't have a gusset - the area of the sock where the decreases happen to ease the heel back into the flow towards the toe or would ease it into the ankle. There is a poof of sock that doesn't lie flat - or maybe that is because I didn't block the socks. I just thought of that because when I went to get the blue socks that I also made since last posting, to take a picture for the blog, there isn't that poof, maybe because I wore them recently. Hmm - gauge and blocking. Maybe these chores are useful after all.

And to end with the other half of this blog:

Someone put this baby seat in the laundry room, for general give-away. Oz liked to sit in it, chilling while away from the rest of the family so we brought it upstairs. There's nothing listed saying it has to be picked up by a family with a baby! Oz won't have anything to do with it but now Lupin and Dingle like to take their naps in it - the winner gets to it first.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

To make a mother proud

We are in church yesterday, looking to the left where all the action is going on. I shift and look at D#3 who asks - "Do you think she made it?" I thought she was asking about the woman in front of us who had just changed seats because not every pew has a kneeler. The woman was wearing a jacket made out of a panoply of ugly green/orange/white printed fabrics. I shook my head. D#3 says "No - her" and points to the woman sitting in the next section over. That woman was wearing a fabulous white poncho: 5 panels of moss stitch/full cable repeat, ending with moss stitch panel that seemed to be made on large needles in a rectangle and then maybe BO to a variation on the moebius strip.

I had already wondered the same thing -

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The apricot socks on the chair

For the record, the last thing I would do after coming home from work is sit down at the computer. And I actually feel guilty loading my blog during work hours. If only I would remember to take the camera to work, I could do this after 5pm at the office. Recognize the difference?

I mixed rye bread in my legacy crock and baked it:

I have finished my apricot socks and recognized my chair on the cover of Cable Knits: 20 Designs. Here is a glimpse at both:

Not such a good picture of the chair, but if you want to fill in the details, look up the book Inspired Cable Knits: 20 creative designs for making sweaters and accessories.

DH has been out of town over the past couple weeks:

so I have also been going to soccer games galore, as the D#3 starts her freshman year soccer season. Not as bad as travelling team but still, why did we play Highland Park? The van's battery gave up the ghost in Highland Park. Even after jumping it with the excellent Honda van, it wouldn't keep going. So after the tow by Pro Towing on Skokie Valley Road to Harlem/Bryn Mawr and a new battery so generously installed by Maya's dad, it is up and running. Good thing the Grizzlies tied because then the trip would have been just a really expensive trip to no where. A tie is better than 0-1!

MIL visits this week so I might be putting more entries up after 5pm after all!

Monday, March 20, 2006

I find a nice long rest is always needed after an endurance event. I trained for a 5K in 199* and haven't been running since. I worked out with the masters swim group last year up until the swim meet against the UIC group, swam my favorite events of 50 fly and 500 free, and really haven't gotten serious about the water again. Knitting has been a little different - I took off a couple weeks but now have needles and yarn in hand again.

I posted my rambling rows afghan last summer, when I first started. I put on a couple more blocks:

Curiously, I am working the afghan right to left. I got excited about the green and so went completely out of sequence and added the vertical rectangle over on the left side. That's square 22 and I am only supposed to be on square 13 (to connect the blue varigated with the lavender and the wheat). We shall see what trouble I am borrowing. I think the author warns about working out of order.

Then I have also completed a pair of socks. Toe up (the pattern is from Wendy found in a comment by Monique at the sockbug blog). The toe is much nicer than just about all I have done, except the pair I made for Emily, but the heel is poofy. I think of this as an apricot sock- I don't like orange, the green stripe isn't very pretty, but the combination is cheery:

I cast on the toe and worked through the complicated parts for way too long Thursday night, so I could take it with me to Pittsburgh on Friday. The flight was very short but I had a chance to knit in the airport when we waited to catch the plane back that evening. I finished it off this weekend as I watched many, many basketball games.

Now for sock #2

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Without further ado...

I know why you're all here. Ladies and gentleman, the gold medal of the 2006 Knitting Olympics.