Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Subway Seat Karma ain't working on the T
Except that this week the T seems to feel that running an adequate amount of trains through the tunnels to stop at stations and pick up and deliver passengers really isn't their mission. So, even though I have charity knitting in the bag ready to be worked on if there were a seat available (a.k.a. deserving to have a seat because you'll be taking it up for Good Works), the karma is not opening up seats. It's not even bringing trains on time, which is a different hassle.
On the plus side, I'm caught up on reading all the knitlist and knitu digests I have saved in my Palm for such times. It was a giggle when a few weeks back someone wrote in all upset because they had spent all that money on the really nice acrylic and it wouldn't felt.
Over Thanksgiving, another person wrote in distressed that the Touch Me project she made not only wouldn't felt, but the yarn fell apart in the washer, too . Can you say grinding up filet mignon for hamburger? 1. I don't even know how expensive this is these days, but in the late 90s I remember seeing the material cost for a scarf at $65. 2. This is 72% rayon, 28% wool, which is a high percentage of man-made fiber. Man-made fiber doesn't felt. 3. Who in their right mind felts chenille? Chenille is one of the most fragile types of yarn out there; it's little pieces of thread held perpendicular in a binder thread. It falls apart if you breathe on it hard.
I'm just waiting for the person who complains that they can't get cotton to felt.
Lifeline - taking time to save time
Turns out I did have a spare skein of perle cotton already, so that was unnescessary. But I felt I couldn't take the time to put in lifelines because, after all, I wanted to be knitting. I also had a couple sessions of losing hours each due to having to rip back.
Sunday night I figured out that each rip back had come after one of the series of rows where the marker shift several times in succession. And I was about to come up to another one. Himself suggested ever so gently but insistantly (having had enough of of his little sunshine suddenly turn all snarky on him), that I put in a lifeline, just in case.
I strung the perle cotton through the purl row back, having clumped all the stitches together on the thinner cable the circular needle and put the tapsetry needle through each stitch but avoided the stitch markers.
1. It took about 10 minutes that could otherwise have been knitting.
2. Having the perle cotton in the stitch you're trying to knit makes it a little tighter to work that next row.
I haven't had to rip back yet.
Whether it's luck, familiarity with how the pattern behaves, or what, I don't know. The test will be taking the Peacock to knitting group tonight (if it's not pouring rain) and seeing if it comes back without needing to be ripped. Hopefully there will be the usual happy chaos tonight and no interuptions of folks insisting I hold things up when I'm right in the middle of something.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Just about anything you would like to contribute will be welcomed. I'll note that the Somerville Family Network is a support system for children and caregivers, so that's a fairly broad range of sizes. If there are parents out there who can't afford hats/mittens/whatever for their kids, you can betcha that they almost certainly could use hats/mittens/whatever for themselves, too.
Personally, I work mostly in wool and find it warmer to wear than acrylic. I also recognize that there are people who, for whatever reason, have adverse skin reactions to wearing wool, so they need acrylic. (No wool vs. acrylic flame wars here). For those new to New England winters, making anything that's going to get wet (snow is not dry) out of cotton is inviting frostbite. Wool will stay warm when it's wet.
Items? What suits your fancy to make? We've started off with an influx of hats along with a few mittens. Got something you've wanted to try? Mind's Eye's free patterns page has suggestions.
Thanks for asking!
Sunday, November 27, 2005
Bowing to the annual insanity, I've pretty much been avoiding the technology this weekend in favor of working away on the Peacock Shawl. Up to row 107, working away with only bits of working back to fix things every so often.
Things I'm finding out:
1. The metal needles help somewhat. I haven't used metal needles for anything other than sizes below 3 for quite some time. I found the first one I tried (the one with the gray/tan cable) had such a springy cable that I was fighting the spring of the needle more than getting knitting done. Switching to the black cabled nickel plated brass helped. I had mistaken metalness of needle for pointyness of tip, forgetting that a really narrow sharp point is mostly a function of the size of the needle. A size 5 (3.75 mm) is not going to be as pointy as a size 0 (2.00 mm) no matter who the manufacturer is. The slipperyness of the metal has taken some getting used to, but on the whole I think it's an improvement, for this project, over bamboo.
2. Don't ignore the niggle. Knitting along and feeling that something just isn't matching up with the pattern. Go back and debug there, rather than have to rip several rows later. I've lost several hours that could be moving forward, just to having to go back and fix things that a half-hour before I waved off as "that can't be wrong."
3. Use the purl back row to "check sum." If you're supposed to have 12 stitches per multiple, check as you're purling back that there are 12 stitches between one marker and the next. It's easy to miss a yarn over following a decrease if you're focusing that the decreases are in the right shape and....
4. Pay special attention to those shapes on those rows when the markers switch left or right because the market falls in between two stitches to be decreased together. This is where I have done the most ripping back. Realizing it's wrong 4 rows further along is saddening. Trying to drop a group of stitches 4 rows back through lace increases/decreases/motif shifting and pick them up again because you did something other than ssk, k1, k2tog is maddening. See #2, don't ignore the niggle.
Here's the progress so far. Midway through chart 3. The pattern doesn't show very much since it can't stretch out at this point. I guess I'm happy with the amount accomplished, but yet regret the time lost to ripping back.
I'm hoping to be able to make steady progress each night this week. It's hard to remember that you can't tell half way based on total number of rows because each row compounds the total number of stitches. And I'm not doing that math.
Friday, November 25, 2005
Tree is up and things I'm finding out about the Peacock Shawl
And I have my brother's birthday present(s) set. No telling since he doesn't get to open them until tomorrow, but now I can start thinking about Christmas presents.
We had a lovely relaxed day yesterday that included making chocolate truffles and brownies for later in the weekend, not eating ourselves silly (that's tomorrow at Mom's), and having a nice walk to Lexington Center and discovering the video store open. Mad Hot Ballroom is worth renting -- 5th graders throughout NYC being taught meringue, tango, foxtrot and rhumba, then competing school against school. Hearing 11 year old girls complaining about how the boys can't give them a good lead that they can follow is a hoot. I was surprized that the teachers were strictly segregating girls as followers and boys as leaders, but then again, if you've got a limited amount of time for teaching any footwork, are you going to confuse them by saying one class you're doing this and the next you're doing that? Lead/follow workshops I've been in will usually have dancers switch roles just to get a sense of what the other part does, but it is tricky and there you're dealing with adults who do want to learn.
The Peacock is making progress. The Admiral Blue is working well. When I first pulled it out of the box I thought I had orered wrong, but now that it's coming off the cone and getting exposed to air/light, it's getting brighter. I'm just into chart 2, row 67. Things I have found helpful:
1. Photoshopping the charts and flipping. The instructions say to work the chart from right to left to the middle and then mirror image back across the chart from left to right, reversing the decreasing symbols. My brain tried this Wednesday night. Once the charts were scanned, flipped and printed Thursday morning, the rows completed per hour increased dramatically.
2. Use the markers. Knowing you're off as you go, rather than 59 stitches later when the mid or end point doesn't work, saves time if not effort. Trying to debug which watching an interesting movie like Mad Hot Ballroom is tough.
3. I'm next going to try switching to one of the nickel plated sharper tipped needles from the blunter pointed bamboo I've been using. Getting into both the slipped stitches for the double decrease is tricky.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Back to the Fischu (annual insanity strikes)
Then again, who am I kidding. This is where the rows get really long and sloggy. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, madness has taken hold. The company holiday party is on Monday Dec. 19th this year, and I'm convinced a Fiddlesticks Knitting Peacock Shawl in admiral blue Zephyr is exactly what my outfit needs to make it complete. The fact that I don't have one already made is beside the point. The fact that I'm desparately hoping UPS will bring my admiral blue Zephyr ordered last Friday noon before tomorrow night when I head out to base myself at Himself's house with all that lovely long weekend knitting time is beside the point. The fact that I have an admiral blue Zephyr Fiber Trend's Sheep Shawl already made is merely a fall-back possibility, because it's nice but not dramatically awwww-inspiring. The holiday party is not for cozy.
It struck slightly early this year, that same urge that last year, a day or so after Thanksgiving, told me to make a surprize sweater for Himself in time for Christmas, that I could only work on Monday, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in December when he wasn't around to see it. I got it done then, and I'm
Provided UPS cooperates. Otherwise, there may be a Fischu blocking by Friday and some very full wrists.
Sunday, November 20, 2005
Knit Unto Others, and more on dryer felting
I'm popping out these hats like there's no tomorrow, one drying/shaping, three in the dryer at the moment and a fifth about a 1/3rd of the way done on the needles. Since I was doing laundry today, I tried the two hats in the dryer soaking wet with the clothes from the washer (which had been spun dry). Didn't work so well. For one thing, I noticed that without the sopping wet towels to go with them, the hats were drying more than they were shrinking. The other thing is that when I resoaked them and tried some more the clothes started getting kind of crispy dry and definately needed to come out. So, at the end of a dryer cycle I had damp hats that were only about a 1/4 felted. Some much for that idea. At the moment, I have the dryer free to put in 2 sopping towels and now 3 hats (2 that were a quarter felted already and one finished in the course of the afternoon) so we'll see how that turns out.
I suspect the lack of felting is a combination of 1. the dryer was fuller (with a full load of wash) so there may not have been as much agitation/room for the abuse to take place than a dryer that has only two towels and a few hats in it. 2. the other items weren't sopping wet, they were already spun dry so there isn't as much water available as there usually is in my setup.
So much for combining purposes. I thought I would save energy, but if the idea doesn't work, well, it doens't work.
Makes me wonder about machine drying a few sweaters that have gotten a bit too big lately, though..... hmmm.
Saturday, November 19, 2005
20 more minutes in the dryer
20 more minutes this morning in the dryer with a towel (both sopping wet) has made a difference. Where yesterday the rolled up bottom came even with the 4" flowerpot that I'm propping it on for drying, today there's a gap and the stitch definition is far less -- i.e., it looks more like felt.
Friday, November 18, 2005
A little felting diversion
Actually, I do, but the hats are dark blue/black tweed and won't show up well against a dark tree. I like brights on a tree. Therefore: the Barbie hot pink tweed leftovers from the sweater I made in the Spring would make fine felted toddler hats. And I've never felted any of the Cascade 220 family, just Lamb's Pride before this. So the free pattern is here, this knit up in an evening, used just under 2 oz according to the postal scale at the office, and it's now felting in the dryer upstairs with a sopping wet towel. Pre-felting it fits an adult head snuggly, rolling just above the ears.
This was easy enough that there's definitely more coming in the next weeks for the tree, replacing the perpetual sock as the subway knitting. I've got a few leftover bits of Cascade 220 that should use this well (we'll see what comes out of the dryer). I also need to look up my Knitting Embellishments by Nicki Epstein or see if I can remember how to make the curliques without it. They really make it cute. See the hats made last year on the pattern page.
Here's the hat after about 50 minutes in the dryer on high with a wet towel. There was a rewetting of the hat at about 40 minutes, because when it was checked then, it had progressed to merely damp.* There's still some stitch definintion showing, but I'm happy and I need to get going to start my day anyway. For now it's draped over a small empty flower pot to give it some "lift" and shape. The Cascade 220 is floppy felt coming out of the dryer, versus the Lambs Pride Worsted/Wonderful Wool that's much stiffer in general, i.e., last year's hats pretty much stood up by themselves. There was far less lint in the catcher vs. LPW, too, since LPW can give off mohair at a sometimes alarming rate when felted. I'm happy the little tweed bits did stay in, so I'm not sure if they show up in the photo, but there's little muted color bits in the fabric.
* Remember the secret to dryer felting is sopping wet - object to the felted, and objects to do the abuse (really old towels are my preference).
Tonight the Forest Path is going to the Boston Chamber Music Society at Jordan Hall where it will enjoy, amoung other items, Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue for piano four hands. Nice.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
This is nice to work with
Other than that, the current iteration of perpetual sock is having it's instep decreased, and the kitten is still languishing. Maybe next weekend. We were too sick this past weekend work on anything that might prove difficult.
Sunday, November 13, 2005
Forest Path Stole pictures, and notes on lace
And today Himself and I took pictures in daylight outside his house. The whole stole shot is on the lawn, the close up is on the driveway. Yes, the cast on edge is narrower than the cast off edge. I'm not concerned that this will be noticable when worn.
After this, we walked up the bikepath to the Lexington center and surveyed what was opened or closed due to the problem with the gas earlier this week. His house is well enough away that it wasn't affected. There were plenty of backhoes and Keyspan trucks about the center and surrounding streets. The Library was closed due to lack of heat, some restaurants were open, others not.
The Fischu I started on Wednesday makes progess. I made a comment about downbeat stitch markets. Keeping track of where the multiples are supposed to begin and end is a help, rather than getting to the end of the very long row and discovering you're off. This particular pattern has a 16 stitch multiple, so, with the exception of 2 rows where a double decrease snitches a stitch from the prior multiple, it's easy to figure out if you're on track or not. Like the conductor of an orchestra letting the musicians know what beat they're on, the stitch markers are the best for letting you know you're in the right place. Another thing you can see in the picture is the black electrical tape I use on the page protector to let me know what row I'm working on. It beats coming back to a put-down project, trying to read the prior rows (though it can be done) and playing match-up with the chart.
This particular shawl is longer and narrower than I'm used to. Himself likened the shape to a high-cut bikini, but that's his thinking. I remember when I made it before thinking I was just off gauge, that it came out long and narrow, but now I'm thinking I may try doing extra repeats of the row pattern to make it wider at the top. We'll see.......
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Working with the good stuff
Now that the Forest Path Stole is completed, I've been thinking about a not-quite-so-involved project to have that's a step above perpetual subway socks, but yet not such a long committment. I have in my stash yarn that Lucy at Mind's Eye hand-dyed specifically for me and my self-restricted sense of appealing colors. Pink is a color that works well for me, so she did 2 skeins of her merino-tencel hand-dyed sock yarn just for me in varying shades of pink and white.
Which has sat on my shelf since, (join in on the chorus) I couldn't work with it because it was too nice.
I started the St. Seraphina Knits Victoria Lace Shawl Pattern #S-5 yesterday with this. The pattern calls for sport or DK weight to work at 19 sts. over 4 ", for a finished width of 23 inches when blocked. Note how it's much narrower than the 16 " needle, as posed on the top of the plastic shoebox.This is lovely if what I was looking for was a relatively narrow coat scarf, but I'm not. So I frogged and instead am making the #A24 Ethereal Fichu from Jackie E-S (Heartstrings FiberArts). I've made it before as a gift, done in navy blue laceweight and it came out very nice, if a little small for my scale. Here are some blocking photos. Yes, it still has its "this is the right side" bow tie of white pearle cotton.
I'm thinking that using the sockweight will make what turned out a tad small in the laceweight closer to my size. Progress pictures (with downbeat stitch markers) sometime soon.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Newbies - Reading Your Knitting III
So, back to the Reading Your Knitting lesson. The last part of my class handout discusses cables and how to tell where you are.
Cables don’t usually cross every other round, so it’s easier to get lost about when to cross the stitches. The above sample crosses the cable every six rows (i.e., row 1, 7, 13, etc.). If you count the stitches up the left hand side of the cable, there’s the little stitch just peeking out from the last cross (which would be row 1) then 6 rows (including the stitches on the needle about to be knit), so it’s time to cross again.
This is one time when knitting back and forth may be an advantage, since, for the most part, cables cross when the right side is facing. The drawback is more purling. You can do cable knitting in the round, but you need to build your skills in keeping track of rows, to keep the cable twists properly spaced. When knitting in the round, the right side is always facing you, so if you're dealing with directions written out for right side/wrong side, you will need to translate the wrong side instructions to produce a correct-looking fabric. In general, if the wrong side instruction says to purl, when knitting in the round you would translate that to knit. If the wrong side directions say to knit (i.e., to produce a reverse stockinette stitch background), then you would purl those when knitting in the round.
Another important thing to know is what way to cross the cable to make it look like the picture. When the stitches on the cable needles are held to the back of the work, the cable will cross from left to right, as above. If the stitches on the cable needle are held to the front of the work, the cable will cross from right to left.
The local artists' cooperative has opened their annual store in Porter Square - Sign of the Dove. It's in the same building as the Porter Square Bob Slate's and the Unicorn Book Store. I found a magnet there today - olden picture of a woman knitting a small item while sitting on a bench - captioned, "How can you have a beautiful ending without making beautiful mistakes."
I meet a lot of knitters, beginners and otherwise, who want the answers without having to do the work themselves -- questions of "How will this turn out if I....." In some cases experience can teach, but in many cases the real answer will come out of having your own experience. Don't be afraid to try it for yourself, and, let others know what worked for you.
Sunday, November 06, 2005
What next now?
- I've got the perpetual sock-in-progress
- I've got a charity hat that I should probably work on
- I've got the languishing kitten (needs time and concentration to get restarted)
I've probably got even more languishing projects that I've just forgotten about, but I'm away from home at the moment and am not going to try to go find them in my memory.
What do I want to do next?
Himself's parents have visited over the holidays for the past few years, and I've usually made sure to have something to be working on so I don't have to join in their conversation. Not that they want someone to join in (the notion of ceding the floor for others to participate in the discussion is not their idea of a conversation), but it keeps me from feeling left out and bored to sobs. I usually aim for something that looks complicated enough that I should be left alone, but is really relatively easy so there's little chance I'm going to have a spontaneous hissy fit that they've disrupted some complicated counting that they just won't understand but will insist on blathering about.
I've got the yarn for such a sweater, and it doesn't look like they're coming this year, so I could start that. Another argument is that this is the sweater I reach for in my sweater collection in the morning wanting to wear it, even though it isn't made yet. But I associate that sort of design with the holidays, so it seems early yet. And I need to rethink sizing and design issues since the last iteration.
I've got plenty of really nice yarn in my stash, particularly some of the hand-dyed stuff from Mind's Eye that I need to get over my "I can't use it because it's just too nice" hang-up. It's not like I couldn't get more or different from Lucy just about any time, especially now that she's thinking about when to have dying workshops this winter.
I've got hats to make for the Mitten Tree for the Somerville Family Network. Maybe even (horrors) mittens!
In the meantime, the perpetual sock makes progress, gets finished, and the next gets started.
Saturday, November 05, 2005
Out of the Woods!
It was done in Jaggerspun Zephyr, color Mushroom, took 6.95 ounces (hers took slightly less), done the full 23 tiers. Used a size 3 needle throughout. Didn't bother with a gauge other than close enough, it's lace, it's going to block bigger, anyway. Started August of 2004, with plentry of breaks when other projects took precedence.
Pictures and finished measurements when she gets it back to me, probably Friday or next weekend, if she can get to it this week. We're going to compare hers and mine side by side, too.
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Perils on the Path
As I was working on drawing up the 100 stitches across the top, I was thinking I should work them loosely, so that they could stretch. This was
Then I decided that rather than frogging 4 rows, it would somehow be easier to manually adjust each stitch, starting in the pickup row and working my way up closer to the curent stitches. More
What I need to make sure of now is that I have 15 seed stitches on the sides before I start picking up the 100 border stitches again, this time at a more normal tension.
It's been resting today while I've been at work. It had better had been thinking about how it's going to behave from here on out, or it may get to do even more resting, BCMS concert on the 18th be dam*ed! And I've let it know that yarn for the next sweater has already followed me home from Mind's Eye.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
After that, I'm promising myself I will get back to that languishing kitten.
Himself is going to be busy this Saturday, so I should have time to work on whichever of the first two (Forest Path has priority), or, possibly, continuing felting the hat. If I'm lucky, we'll be here Friday night and I can
In other happy news, my brother turns out to fit socks made to the same pattern as Himself, which makes keeping track of what I'm doing easier. So, for future reference, 64 sts around, rib 25 rounds, k 50 rounds, heel on 32 sts., turn heel with 18, ssk, k1, turn work, Sl 1, p5, p2tog, p1, turn work, k back to just before gap, ssk, etc., pickup 16 instep stitches and dec. EOR, the 42 rounds plain, dec. at 4 pts. EOR until 20 sts. left, kitchener. That's notes enough for me, if you want a fuller description, leave word for me to get back to you. One claims to take a 10 or 10 1/2 depending on width of shoe, the other 10 1/2 to 11, whole size if slippers.
Now it's a matter of deciding who gets each pair as finished.
That said, subway knitting is about to move back to charity projects, since Mind's Eye Yarns will have the annual mitten tree for Somerville Family Network up sometime during Thanksgiving weekend. Yes, garments other than mittens are acceptable. (There's a story from my folks' parish in back of that last comment, but it has to be reserved for in-person meetings.)
And I'm still finding plenty instances where subway seat karma works when I have charity knitting with me. Just a hint......
Knitting Quick, Felting Slower
Here's the hat pre-felting process, as modeled by Stanley, and in the sink. A double sink is a great tool for felting as it allows you to have hot water on one side, cold on the other and just flip back and forth between. The felting method this time was about 10 minutes of rub with soap and abuse the project in the hot, dunk in the cold, abuse in the hot, dunk in the cold, transfer to the dryer with a wet towel for a total of a half-hour, with quarter hour check, and then back into the sink with the major work done, for another half hour of hot/cold abuse.
Abuse: Take the woolen object and rub it against itself. I find if I put my palms each on a side of the object and then rub them together, move slightly along the object and rub more, shift again and rub more, that works pretty well. Keep it in the hot (keep water level relatively low, and watch for splashing) and just rub it against itself. A little soap applied directly to the object helps. Be prepared to feel fiber coming off (wet lint) to a certain degree. It won't look like progress so much in the early stages, but in the later stages you can feel the fabric change under your hands as it hits the cold. It will sort of seize, and in the later stages you can feel it getting thicker. You will find it harder to manipulate (i.e., won't be quite so easy to turn inside out) as the process goes on. Be prepared for tired arms. Persuade onlookers it's not at all like painting fences, really, and they should try it too!
Here it is fairly late in the process, along with the blocking item. It's a Rubbermaid lid size C, 1.6 quart/1.5 liter round container. I block it on the inside, and let the brim drape over the outside, so the thing that sticks out the sides doesn't get in the way.
Before you put it to blocking, though, get as much water out as possible. I'm fond of the roll it in a towel and step on the towel to squeeze it all out method.
Felting is always a gamble, and I'm wondering about the final outcome of this one. The hat circumference feels small, but the length is definitely too long. I'm letting it dry for now, will try it on (maybe the length will be taken up with the brim, but I'm doubtful), and can always start the process again. You want the hat to be slightly tight in order to stay on, but move the barrettes tight is out.
To the left the top-down look, showing how the felted colors have muted and melted together, compared to what's left of the original 250 gr (310 yards) skein.
To the right the side view of the blocking rig. The second rubbermaid container (the one with my salt/oil handrub) is there to keep the sides from scrunching up against the blocking board and warping themselves. Told you the sides were long.