Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Uptight? Guess not.

I would have thought that the Regia 4ply would knit much tighter on the size 1s than the Sockotta on the size 3s, but I'm getting a gauge of 6.5 stitches to the inch, not much different than the 6.4 with the Sockotta. (The Regia 4ply on size 2s produced a 6 stitch to the inch fabric that just felt too loose.)

I was expecting something like a 7 or 8 stitches to the inch gauge, but I'm happy with the fabric produced by the ones, so onward to math. Not much difference in the end from the numbers for producing the Sockotta sweater.

My one worry is if I'm somehow measuring the gauge wrong, or if it changes from swatch to garment. If it turns out to be really 7 to the inch, my 41 inch around sweater will be a figure-hugging 38 inches (aka the Hi! I got hooters! look), but if it's 6 to the inch, it will be 44 1/3 inches around, more ease than a lightweight sweater should really have. On the other hand, sometimes you just have to get on with it and try, so I'll be casting on tonight. I can plan to check gauge when I get closer to the underarm join.

The immediate purpose is to get through the ribbing this week, so that by the time the annual eye exam rolls up on Saturday, I can have knitting I don't need to look at during and after the dilation. I can plain knit with my eyes closed, mostly, so as long as I can guess a vertical inch or so to space out the increases, I should be all set.

Commuter sock knitting is going well. Two days in, the trains are running reasonably well, the fairies are doing a decent job of having a seat for me, and I'm about to start the heel flap. Afghans for Afghans is looking for socks up to women's large for the teenagers, I wear a size 7/39 metric, so I guess the standard sock for me will work.

March I'll have to get back to the Baby Surprise Supersize Commuter Jacket project. I bought the yarn at Meg's first-timers Camp in July of 2001. If I don't get going and use it up over the next year or two, I'm going to owe it a drink for its birthday sooner than I think.

Anyone else out there have stash getting old enough it could buy a beer? This isn't quite there yet, but the years go by, more quickly than you think.

Pretty pretty!

Lucy distributed the sock yarn club skein for January, and it's a winner. The colors are even better in person, the flash has caught the highlights. She describes the process of creating this in her blog last week. It's skeins like this that make you glad you're in the club, and makes me look forward to anytime she posts updates to her Etsy store.

I've given myself permission to put the Baby Surprise Commuting Jacket project on hold for February, since Afghans for Afghans has asked for socks for kids ages 7-18, up to women's size large, by March 7. I had wanted to get back to socks for a while but my sock collection is large enough that I really don't need more socks. This will allow me to use up some of the collection for a good cause.

Tonight I'll take a gauge off of the Regia 4-ply swatch, do some math and hopefully cast on for the next sweater. I'm thinking a further modification to the traditional EPS saddle-shoulder, since I find the neck is big and gets bigger over time. I think I need to make the saddles longer so that it will come in closer to the neck. The size 1 fabric is much better than the size 2 fabric, I'll have firm numbers tonight.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Not too many runny bits

The Sockotta sweater is done, though it hasn't been blocked yet. I'd been angsting over the color varigations and how they would show up. I'm happy with the body, though the sleeves gave me a bit of trouble. It seems the period of the color repeat pretty much matches the 86 stitches going around the top of the sleeves, creating vague vertical stripes that rippled upwards. I ripped the first sleeve and wound up trying the use two skeins in alternation trick to break up the clumping. It worked, sort of. The title is from Himself's comment on Thursday evening, trying to assure me that others don't see what I am/was convinced is horrific. Now that I look at the photos of it on, rather than just laying flat out, I'm not seeing the stripes I thought were there, but noticing much more the interplay of the black areas with the color snippets.

I haven't really worn this yet, since as soon as it was finished Boston finally got cold weather. This sweater is intended for 30 - 50 degree weather, and we've been in the teens and twenties before windchill. I'm generally happy with the fit, though I recognize that the sleeves are likely to lengthen. This sweater will probably relax a bit once it gets worn and washed, but I don't think it's going to get too far out of whack. Then again, Sockotta has a high cotton percentage and I'm not used to working that fiber.

I liked working with the Sockotta and liked this colorway. The sweater is meant to be a light-weight basic, go with everything casual. The black has a thread of white running through it, and then short bright colors at regular intervals. I worked it at 6.4 stitches to the inch on size 3s (3mm). I normally make my sweaters to mid-40 inches around, since this was a lighter gauge sweater I brought it in to 41 inches for the key number. It's an EPS saddle shoulder following the instructions in Knitting Workshop, with two modifications. One was starting the sleeves with 25% of key, rather than 20%, since I have thick forearms (or, as my massage therapist put it, I've developed muscles you can't feel on most folks). The other was the 10% difference between initial cast on and ultimate body circumference. Instead of increasing all the stitches at once in the last round of the ribbing, instead I increased half there and spread the other half up the sides gradually over a few inches. This keeps there from being quite such a poof of increased stitches immediately over the hips.

I'm surprised at how relatively little yarn this used. It weighs 9.6 ounces all finished, which multiplies out to roughly 1,140 yards. I have lots left over from the 4 100 gram skeins -- the extra coming from trying to get the sleeves to not stripe. Math of 9.6 ounces divided by 3.52 ounces per skein says I should have used 2.7 (rounded) skeins, so I probably could have gotten away with 3 skeins if I hadn't had the varigation problem. Having bought a 10 skein bag, I'm going to have to think about what to do with the rest.

My next big think is the same dimension saddle shoulder with Regia 4-ply sock yarn. This time I've got a 10 skein bag again, but they're 50 gram skeins. I'm still swatching this weekend. I started with a size 2 needle (2.75mm) but have switched to a size 1 (2.25 mm). It's making that much firmer of a fabric and I think I like it better. Just need to do more length to the swatch to get a good enough sample to measure for gauge.

No progress recently on the Baby Surprise Commuting Jacket. I'm debating if upsizing it by doubling the yarn is making it too big to carry in my briefcase, so I need to look at that. In the meantime, I'm finishing up the Cherry Tree Hill supersock Northern Lights socks as commuter knitting, not that they've made much progress either. The commuting fairies have not been sending sufficient trains through the tunnels recently to prevent platform buildup and keep seats on the trains free. Maybe it's their way of saying I've done enough charity knitting and need to build up my balance muscles again.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

On vacation and forgot to blog

Strange how time works when you're on vacation. Unless you've got distinct things to do that day, well, it just sort of passes.

There was lots of reading of email digests and catching up with the blogosphere..... and some knitting.

The Baby Surprise Supersize project has taken an interesting turn now that the colors have started to come together. I had forgotten that not all colors get used evenly throughout, so in this case there's a very little yellow and brown together (less than a row), so it's a very sudden change to yellow and dark green. This may be trickier than I thought.

I started socks last week (hey, it was vacation) so I'm finishing those this week. Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Merino in Northern Lights, since it was in the stash.

I made a lot of progress on the Sockotta sweater, once I got over a hangup. There are spots where the repeat of the dye sequence is just lining up too much as it comes around and around in the same place. I tried the switching yarns every few rounds trick, with about the same result. I decided to press on and I can always rip if I'm unhappy. As of last night I'm doing the neck ribbing, after that I get to take a long hard look and assess. All the usual angsts come into play, fit, pattern, etc. We'll see.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Pictures in the not very good light of dawn

I got some photos taken yesterday morning just after official dawn. The flash still seems to be washing out a lot of the color, but.

First we have front and back not-sewn-together pictures of the single-strand Baby Surprise Jacket. Eh, it's a Baby Surprise Jacket. The sewing and buttons will happen in the next unplanned session of batch finishing sometime in the Spring.

Next is the sleeve of the Sockotta sweater. I made and unmade a lot of progress last night. Having reached the end of the increases, I had on a combination of Where the Buffalo Roam (secret Hunter Thompson fan, though I don't think I would have liked to been around him personally) and Yes, Minister. Wasn't watching the knitting till I saw that the colors where lining up in a way I didn't like after about 3 or 4 inches.

I didn't take pictures of the process, but here's a technique for a controlled ripping back, in this case on two circs, but it would also apply to the traditional double point arrangement as well:

1. find the starting point
2. drop one stitch down as far back as you want to go back
3. with the a free needle (i.e., your 4th or 5th in a DPN, or the other end of the circ you're on in a 2 -circ method, pick up that one stitch.
4. remove other end of the needle up above
5. rip the stitch lines wholesale down to about 2 rows above where you want to stop
6. with the same end of the needle that you picked up that one stitch with, continue working right to left, slowly and carefully ripping those last two rows and pickup with each stitch in turn.
7. Do this one by one until you reach the end of the stitches of what was pulled out.
8. Repeat for other needle(s).

This will take a while, but is more controlled than just wholesale ripping back. I find with wholesale ripping back it's too easy to lose where you were headed and stop either too early or too late.

I think the solution to the sleeve to prevent the colors stacking as badly as they did will be to grab a second skein and work alternate rows off each skein. And don't watch the screen for a couple hours without examining what's going on with the colors .

Last picture, the new double-strand Baby Surprise Jacket. Yesterday's knitting got it up past the point where you have to pay attention and increase, to the comfy point where you can just settle in to a low sequence of decrease rows to the next attention point. Nice.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Reminder that I'm making progress

My first thought about projects this morning was that I wasn't really making progress. Then I had to remind myself that I finished the single-strand Baby Surprise Jacket and cast on for the double-strand. Yes, it's still dark, so no pictures. And no, I did not do any finishing of ends, seams or buttons on the single-strand.

The single-strand fits crowded, but not dangerous, on a 16" size 3 circular worked back and forth. The double-strand, surprisingly enough, is quite comfortably long on a 35" size 5. I'm really curious to find out what the gauge and finished size will be. This may be the encouragement bump the overall projected needed.

The Sockotta sweater hasn't made much progress over the last several days. There's still another round of increases to go, and then the rest of the TBD length up the arm. At some point I'll do the shoulder shaping math. I had thought I would get to it last night, but the last rows of the BSJ and the casting on of the next took the whole evening.

This morning I need to make lemonade out of of a high fasting and get myself over to the lab for a fasting lipid profile on one of those (now) rare occasions I can trust myself get over there without risk. Love having this Gov'ner, even if it goes bing and wakes me up in the dark of night.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Serious destashing through Supersizing Surprises out of Shetland

Last year's Knitting Olympics got me to finally deal with two Rubbermaid underbed storage boxes of J&S Shetland Jumperweight bought at Meg Swansen's Knitting Camp back in 1991, which was over $400 worth at the time. That's right, 15 years stashed, because I bought so much, so randomly, I couldn't bring myself to do anything with it. Bear in mind, I have the color sense of New England boiled dinner, so putting colors together is a hangup for me. Trust me, it's tough even to get me to play with crayons on paper.

My Olympic Challenge was to break into this stash and make something with it. With the help of my color coach, I came up with a tam out of Mary Rowe's Knitted Tams book. There was still lots of yarn left over afterwards.

That's when I got the idea to make Elizabeth Zimmermann's Baby Surprise Jackets out of the remaining poundage, to be donated to charities that take non-machine washable wool items, with the added idea of changing colors each day I worked on it, so there would be a vague record of how much can get done in an average commuting round trip. The top picture is the current one, started sometime in October and set aside to do birthday/Christmas socks for my brother. The second picture is the current in-use collection of colors. Nothing like starting each weekday with a split splice.

I'm looking at the pace this uses up yarn (not astoundingly fast) and hearing that Afghans for Afghans, for instance, has enough baby things and they're looking for larger sizes. With the next Baby Surprise I'm going to work two stands together at the same time, and see how that changes the resulting size. Still change one color per day, but each color will have two days' worth of being worked.

So, to get ready I spent yesterday afternoon and this morning winding wool off the swift and I made documentary pictures. One color, the red-orange has been pretty much used up already (that was 8 ounces, I think) because there were so many other colors it didn't go with. A number of those sweaters were sent off to the Dulaan project in October. Note, that was bought back in the time before I learned there were blue-reds and yellow-reds. I have no idea what I was aiming for with the selection I bought, I just remember telling Meg I'd take 4 ounces of this and 8 of that.

I think I put too many light colors together in the picture on the right, since it seems a little washed out. The 7 skeins at the top are a sort of light yellow.

In any case, there's clearly a lot of wool to knit through. The thought with double-stranding is that each sweater will use up twice as much yarn, there'll be chances to explore interesting colorways and larger children will benefit. How large? I have no idea. I also need to figure out what size needle to use, if I'm now working single strands on a size 3. I'll probably try a 5.

First step is to finish up the one currently in progress, then be ready to start fresh. 65 one ounce skeins wound, ready to go, plus the oddments up top. Time to eat that elephant and free up two boxes.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

I would have done some sleeve shaping algebra

I was planning to do measuring and row gauging and figure out very specifically how to shape the sleeve via spacing the increases. Eh, I was tired last night, though I did make it out to knitting group and help (along with someone else) Lucy get the Mitten Tree put away for the year.

If I had done, it would be measuring from elbow to wrist (I want the sleeve to reach fullness by the elbow or only a little above), subtract the depth of the ribbing, calculate the row gauge based on the body work, then divide the length by the gauge to get how to space the increases. But I'm winging it instead.

So, the ribbing wound up being 20 rows deep, and then the increases 2 every 7 rows, which will give me 70 rows. I've done 3 increases out of the 10 so far. I'll look at it in a while to see if it's doing as I want.

After that, I'll need to look at the true sleeve length before it joins the body at the underarm. Yes, I have the measurements of all the other sweaters' dimensions to draw from, but those were larger circumference sweaters. Bringing the circumference of the main part of the sweater closer into the body means the length of the sleeve will have to follow it in.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Easing on down the long road

Had the first appointment of the year with the endocrinologist this morning. She had the test results from last Thursday. A1c has come down to 7.3%, which, while it's not under 7%, is better than I've recorded since Dx. For the record, as far as I can remember, the last tests have been July, 2005 8.3%, October, 2005 8.1%, January, 2006 8.6% (December was a terrible month for management), Spring, 2006 7.8%, August, 2006(before CGMS) 7.6%, early November 2006 (after CGMS) still 7.6%, and last week 7.3%. And kidneys are exemplary.

Year 13 starts a week from Saturday.

So, the Sockotta sweater. After I posted about getting the first skein finished, I switched to working on the Baby Surprise Sweater and, after tonight's bus ride to see Par I'm in the middle of the 10 row patch of working on the center 90 stitches. Pictures sometime soon.

The sweater's first sleeve is about to be cast on. Here's a rough plan of attack:

Sleeves – cast on 66 stitches (25% of 260) with size 0’s and work X rounds of K1 P1 rib.

Then, with 3's increase up to 86 by increasing 2 stitches each side of start of round 10 times, spaced X rounds apart.

I use 25% for the wrists since I seem to have thicker forearms than the Zimmermann family. In any case, I need a supper and then I'll get started.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Further than I would have thought

Starting the new year with the next skein of the sweater. I'm surprised, the first skein of Sockotta has gone to 8 and a half inches in length up the body. This from a 100 gram, 414 yard skein that the label suggests it be used with a size 2 to get 7 stitches to the inch, and I'm using a size 3 and getting 6.4 stitches to the inch, though I should double-check I'm still on gauge sometime soon.

So, getting back to the decision of how long to make the body before stopping for the underarms, there are two parts to the decision. The problem is that it's going to be hard to predict how deep the sweater will be from the shoulders down to the underarm. Therefore, I can guess how far up to go based on the heavier gauge sweaters I already have, but this will take careful estimating.

Then again, if I would bother to finish the calculations for the rest of the sweater now, and take a row gauge off the existing knitting, then I would get an even better guess. It's a thought.

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