Thursday, July 24, 2014

Progress, or Lack Thereof

So, I had planned to finish my new design sweater by the end of this week. So much for plans. Just before I started to bind off at the shoulders, I noticed two things. The major thing, of course, was that I apparently forgot I was doing the front, not the back. (Every pattern seems to start with the back, for some reason.) So I hadn't bound off for the neck at the right place. Then, as I took a closer look, I discovered that I had made a mistake when I bound off for the armholes. I forgot I had two selvedge sts on each side, and didn't count them in the new pattern lines. So about 8 rows in, it created a jog in the pattern that wasn't supposed to be there.

So, gritting my teeth, I ripped back to the armhole bind-offs. Turns out it's a good thing, since I thought I had bound off on one row, but I had in fact bound off on a different row.  Basically, it was a mess, and is now much better for having been ripped back and reknit. Or almost reknit. I've just completed the bind off for the neck. I still have about 4 inches to go before the front is finished. I won't be finsihing the sweater this week, unfortunately. Next week, for sure. Well, almost for sure. (It's been getting a little hotter every day around here, which makes knitting a wool sweater a bit too, umm, sweaty for me.)

Be well, stay cool, and may you find contentment in both the process and the product of your knitting.

Monday, July 21, 2014

So, I ended up working on another "my design" sweater

When Falling Leaves didn't work out, I was really disappointed. I didn't want to have to plot out a solution to the problems, I just wanted to knit.

I looked around at a lot of patterns, and eyed my stash. And, of course, decided I'd just make a sweater out of a stitch pattern I'd fallen in love with. I'm using Valley Yarn's Amherst, in what they call Soft Grape, but I call medium brown. The stitch pattern I'm using is from Up, Down, All-Around and is called "Moss Diamonds and Lozenges", p.42. It's a 44 row pattern, and each complete pattern is about 8 inches tall.

I started knitting on 7/16, and bound off for the armholes of the front on 7/18. And then had to back up a couple of times, because the bind off messed up the pattern. I finally had to write out the pattern, line by line and stitch by stitch, to see where I should start, given the different starting points caused by the armhole decreases. Not fun, but it's working out okay now. I'm about 2 rows from binding off for the shoulders. (7/20). So far, I've used a little less than 2 1/2 skeins, and I have 10.  I'm planning on doing a plain stockinette back, and sleeves, although I may use part of the pattern on those, maybe just around the cuff area. Haven't decided yet. I really like the pattern stitch, but I probably would have been better off doing a drop shoulder style. I'm small, though, so that can look overwhelming on me. I really prefer set in sleeves.

I hope to be done with this by the end of next week, July 27. Still need to work out the sleeve cap, and whether or not to use a part of the pattern stitch on the cuff area, so I may not make it, but I'm going to try.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


I ran into a roadblock when I started knitting the Falling Leaves Shell by Rosemary Drysdale for Tahki Yarns. The pattern is totally screwed up. First, it calls for a gauge of 20 sts to 4" in Rev StSt on 6s. I get that. But then it calls for only 74 sts to be cast on for the front piece, but 86 sts for the back. So, I work through the first 7 rows of the 24 row pattern (Candleflame), and find the front piece is only just over 12" wide. Even if I was getting the same 20s=4" as she calls for for the back, it would only be 14" wide for the small, but the back would be @17". So, either the whole thing would be 31" or, more likely 29" around, for a supposed 32" bust. The picture doesn't show any negative ease, nor does the pattern make any mention of ease. Oh, and I should probably mention that I virtually always get gauge when I knit. I always have, for some strange reason. I guess I don't knit tightly or too loosely, or something.

I went to Ravelry to check the pattern, and found dozens of complaints about it, but not about this. About the difficulty of the neck decreases. Tahki put out a new chart to show the decreases needed , but apparently, many people found that the pattern wasn't centered, and the neck decreases made it look weird. I commented on the pattern page, but no one has responded yet, and probably won't, since it doesn't list Drysdale in the pattern.

And then there's the problem with this being a cropped top, not mentioned anywhere, and the fact that the yo's create a fairly large hole in the fabric which means this would have to be worn over something else, or be indecent. Not really what I think of when I think of a basic little shell. Oh, and everyone was complaining about how boxy it was, since there's no shaping in it whatsoever, not even binding off for the armholes, which looks sloppy on, especially since the pattern produces a wavy line, . And someone noted that the picture obscures this fact because the model's hair covers her shoulders and you can't see clearly that the armhole is waving, or falling in an unflattering position on the arm.

So, that pattern is in timeout. I will probably find a way to work around the weirdnesses, but not right now. I just want to knit, not do pattern surgery. And I wanted to use my Simplicity(by HiKoo), which I am in love with. I don't really use a lot of DK yarns, but this one is so round and bouncy and fun. I watched all the Fiber Factor shows, which introduced this yarn and a couple of other ones, and so many of the participants raved about it. When I found in on Ebay, I decided to see what all the raves meant. And I did. Now I have to go through all the patterns I have to see what other patterns I have that I can use it for. I only have 6 skeins, or just over 700 yards, so I have to look for something short, sleeveless or short sleeved, or.... Well, just something else. I am really disappointed, though. I loved the look of this Falling Leaves Shell, and I loved the way the yarn looked when working it. I guess I may have to just  design my own shell/tank top. Find a lace or other pattern I like from Up, Down, All-Around, and work out the math for the whole thing. But, then, I just wanted to sit and knit, not sit and plot out a pattern.

I have also been exploring yarns made by Lion Brand, Red Heart, and Loops and Threads. All tend to use a lot of acrylic, but some are just cotton, or wool & acrylic. I do tend to prefer natural yarns, but I don't really have a problem with acrylic. I think if I lived somewhere it got really cold, I wouldn't use acrylic, but here in SoCal it never really gets cold enough to need the warmth of wool. I still knit with it, and with alpaca, too, because I love the look and feel of wool. But there have been great strides in acrylics used in yarns, so I've been checking them out, 2 skeins at a time.

I first picked up a Loops and Threads DK yarn, Elegance. I really like it. It feels silky, and I like the tonal colorways it comes in. It's put up in 50g skeins, with 160 yards. And it's only $3.99! After I tried it out, working on circular 6s, I liked it so much I went back and got another 5 of the Smoky Plum I already had, and 2 more of a different pinkish one, Pink Lily. Definitely a cowl for the Pink Lily, but some kind of sweater for the Smoky Plum. When I was trying out the first Smoky Plum, I cast on to a 16" circular size 6, and I must have zoned out while casting on, because when I looked, I'd already cast on 125 sts. Like a 100 more than I generally cast on to swatch with. And then, even though circulars are fairly new to me (my former Scottish neighbor's mother taught me how to knit way, way back, and she put one long needle under her arm, and did everything else with the needle in her right hand. Now, so do I), I couldn't put it down. I knit about 10 inches of the stuff before I decided I should just measure the gauge and then decide what I would make with it. I know, I could have made a cowl out of it at that point, but I'd just done a amalgam of different stitches ~ garter, St. st, ribbing, a cable or two, and it wasn't really cowl-worthy. So, I bound it off, then measured each section for gauge, wrote it all down in my Planning book, and then frogged the whole thing.  Now I have 1120 yards of plummy goodness to use in something.

I also picked up a couple of skeins of LB's Amazing, but I haven't worked with it yet. I have to say, it feels a bit scratchy in the skein, but I'll knit a swatch with it and see how it feels then. I also picked up 2 other 2-skeins of Red Heart yarn, in their "Boutique" line, Treasure and Unforgettable. Haven't  knit with any of them, but I will have enough for cowls out of all of them. If the Amazing doesn't soften enough when knit, I can make a cover for my Kindle out of it, or a small notebook cover. Maybe both. And since I am not going to be busy knitting up the little shell I so liked, I guess I'll have time to do all the swatching on these that I could want. Oh, well. (During the day it's so bloody hot, it's hard to get excited about anything (91 degrees at 7:30 pm. Ugh!) and narrowly focusing on rewriting a pattern, or writing one up, is just hard to do in this heat.

So, that's all for now. May your knitting always be perfect, both in product and process.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Ribbed Tank finished at last!

I finished seaming the tank top this morning, got all the ends woven in, tried it on, and I like it! It hits right at the best place on my hips, it's stretchy, but it doesn't hug too tight. The only thing is I find that Microspun, for being a DK weight, gets heavy for some reason.  I wasn't expecting that, but I can live with it. And I like the pattern enough to make it again, using the Kroy Socks FX that I got for it in the first place. And maybe in some other yarns and colors. Versatile top.

In other news, I picked up a couple of new books and forgot to mention them in my last post. I really like both of them.

First up, Up, Down, All-Around Stitch Dictionary by Wendy Bernard, of Knit and Tonic blog, and the author of the Custom Knits series of books. In this new book, Wendy has taken over 150 stitch patterns, and written and charted them for knitting top down, bottom up, in the round, and on straight needles. Not every pattern gets all 4, but then many don't need it. I love the way she has thoughtfully put together groups of stitch patterns, and I love, love the fact that I don't have to deal with rewriting lace patterns to knit flat or in the round. For just that, alone, BUY THIS BOOK! (I am not getting paid or anything else for this review).

In addition to all those patterns, Wendy has also included a pattern for using one of the stitch patterns ~ a cowl, a hat, a vest, etc. Included, too, are notes on swatching ( I love her suggestion list for why you really need to swatch), and a short how-to on swapping out stitch patterns to customize your knitting. Overall, this is a terrific addition to my collection of stitch dictionaries.

The other new book is another Viking knits book by Elsebeth Lavold, Viking Knits & Ancient Ornaments. Lavold is recognized as an expert on cables, from her extensive work in Viking, as well as other early civilizations, decorative pieces. In her latest book, Lavold goes around the world to find "interlacements" or new cable details. This book has some exquisite new patterns using the new cables, but more than that, it's just a great read as Lavold recounts her travels and discoveries as she sought to find commonalities and differences in cultures around the world. I recommend this book not only for its beautiful patterns, but for a fascinating look at decorative arts throughout history and the world.

Both of these books are available on Amazon.

So, that's about all. While I think about what to knit next, I'm having fun reading Lavold's book, and browsing through Wendy's stitches.  Hope your July is going well!

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Hazards of Knitting Tired

So, I finally got back to the tank top I had started last summer, but had to frog the first attempt, in Kroy, because of a mistake I'd made early on but didn't catch until it was 16 inches behind me. Then, I cast on the same pattern in the yarn originally called for, Microspun, but put it aside after a short while, because I went back to work and it was just too incredibly hot at the time.

Now I am retired, and getting into knitting a lot more since I have the time. So, I restarted the Microspun top, finished the back, cast on for the front, got to about 8 rows above the armhole bind off, and discovered I'd dropped a stitch. (Actually, I kept dropping stitches off the ends of my needles, since Microspun is quite slippery and also easily splits, but rescued those as I went along.) Anyway, last night I decided I'd go back and catch that dropped stitch. And proved why you should never knit, or try to repair the knitting when you're too tired. Because in trying to pick up that dropped stitch, I made a mess of it. I think, but I'm not sure, that I actually created a couple of stitches while trying to pick up just one. And made an unholy mess of the whole thing.

Today, I tinked all the rows above the bind off for the arms. And discovered that where I thought I'd picked up the stitch, I had apparently knotted the yarn around one stitch. I had to cut the yarn to untangle it. And then tink back all those rows. Ouch.

So, now it's Monday, and I'm back to the beginning of the armhole decreases. It's not a huge loss, but it was really frustrating, and I'm still trying to figure out how I managed to pick up an extra stitch and knot the yarn at the same time.  Note to self: When you find yourself nodding off is not the time to repair your knitting. Just don't.

In other news, I picked up some Simplicity by HiKoo, in a sky blue, and I'm going to use it to make Falling Leaves, a tank top by Rosemary Drysdale.

It's only patterned on the front, which I normally don't like, but in this case, I think it's going to be fine.
Once I finish the ribbed tank I'm (still) working on, I'll do this one, then go back and do the ribbed tank in the Kroy socks yarn, which I used double, and loved.
I'm hoping to win my bid on Ebay for 15 skeins of Classic Elite's Sand. I ran across a pattern years ago that called for that yarn and I really, really wanted to knit it, but couldn't find the yarn anywhere. So, now I have to go find that pattern, which I'm sure I saved, but where??
I may sneak in a cowl or two before I get back to the Kroy version of the ribbed top, though. I picked up a bunch of 1-2 skeins of some rather expensive yarns a while back, and haven't done anything with them yet, so I've been cruising Ravelry for patterns for them. I especially love Annabella's Cowl by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas.
It uses two Alchemy yarns, Silk Purse and Haiku, and those are both hard to find, and expensive. It takes two of the Silk Purse, and it runs between $27 and $34 a skein. Makes this a very expensive cowl, but the raves for it on Ravelry make me want to knit it in those yarns. And, of course, it doesn't use up any of the yarns I already have in my stash. Which I have got to start knitting from, or move to a bigger place!

Between Ebay and online yarn shops, I have collected way, way too much yarn. I don't actually need to buy anymore yarn, ever. I just need to find patterns I really want to make with what I have in my stash. Which is more yarn, I think, than one of my LYS has in stock. Yikes.

Friday, April 4, 2014

New Yarns and New Knitting

I got some new yarns from Elann, in their own line of A-series. First up is A-Series F03, Superwash Blue Faced Leicester wool (80%), and nylon (20%) It is indescribably soft. Fingering weight, with 407 yards in 4 oz. Next, A-Series S03, Silk and Linen (65/35%) Not as soft, but just as beautiful. It's got 756 yards to 4 oz. Both of them knit 26-29 sts/4 in. on 2s. And both are in Natural, although the Blue Faced Leicester seems to have a slightly yellow look. Anyway, they're both beautiful yarns, but as yet, I have no idea what to make with them.

I also got 2 skeins of Douceur et Soie, 70/30% baby mohair and silk, about 450 yards in something not-quite-cotton candy pink; 8 skeins Australian Merino in light purple, just over 1220 yards at 22sts/4in. on 4s. Again, no designated design;  8 skeins Plymouth's Royal Llama Silk, 60/40 fine Llama/silk, in natural, knitting at 18sts/4 in. on 8s. 

Oddly, for me, I just ordered 3 crochet patterns on Elann. I do know how to crochet, but I just haven't been interested in doing so for years and years. (I have 3 crocheted afghans from my early years). But these patterns appealed to me. They're from Sans Limites, and one is Flowing Vest
another is a bag, and the last one is a "poncho", but it has sleeves and is open in front, which truly doesn't say "poncho" to me. I'll just have to wait and see if I like crocheting enough to complete these. I'm a bit impressed with the whole Sans Limites line ~ very fashion conscious, and no granny squares!

In new knitting, I've begun work on a SweaterBabe pattern called Bohemian Scarf. It's knit in Blue Sky Alpaca's Alpaca Silk, in a gorgeous deep plum color. I've only knit the first pattern repeat, 12 rows, and now I have only 32 more repeats to go. But it does go rather quickly.

Maybe when I can figure out Blogger's picture problem, I will upload pictures of the yarns and patterns, and maybe even a picture of my progress on the scarf (although it doesn't look like much yet, since it's a kind of lace, and lace never looks good until it's blocked.)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Bit of This and That

I guess the biggest news around here is that I've retired. As of Friday I am no longer teaching. I just decided I'd had it, with all the days out of class for yet another inservice on some new method or curriculum, with all the behavior problems (one student came back to our school after being strongly encouraged to leave last year, but got thrown out of his "new" school. His goal for this year? To make his teacher cry. Heh.) And our new principal, a woman, doesn't believe in suspending students for any reason, doesn't believe in removing them from the classroom for any reason, and on top of that, is a micromanager. Enough. Teaching used to be both fun and worthwhile. Not any more.

So, I'm now got lots of time to knit and read. And I'm going a bit crazy trying to figure out what I want to knit. I have so bloody many choices, and I can't make up my mind.

I was set to make the Metropolitan Knits sweater I mentioned in my last post, but decided I didn't like the Inka yarn I was planning on using for it. I ordered the yarn specified, Valley Yarns Amherst in Soft Grape, instead. But when it arrived, despite looking a touch darker than lavender on their website, the yarn was brown. A medium brown. I contacted Webs, and they shipped me a replacement order. Only it's the same medium brown as the first order. I'm just going to ship them both back and order a different color. The labels clearly state "Soft Grape" on them, but it's brown. I even had my sister-in-law look at it, and she says it's brown, too.

I've run into a hitch, however. Webs sent me an email with the shipping label when I first contacted them, but I don't have a working printer, so I have to take it somewhere and print it out. Then I have to take the package to a UPS store to send it. And, unfortunately, my knee decided I needed to stay still and avoid walking at all. I did make it to my doctor, and he sent me to my orthopedic guy, who just injected cortisone into it. (That really, really hurts!), which made it feel good for about a day, but it's back to being swollen and painful, again. Next week, I'm supposed to go back to my orthopedist, and I'm having my brother take me there, since I can't drive like this. Guess we'll see then.

So, I'm basically stuck sitting with one leg propped up, which would mean knitting would be perfect, only I can't decide what I want to knit.

Maybe I need to just start a list of all the things I want to knit, then put it in order from "most wanted" to "least wanted", and start knitting from the list.   Or is that just another way to procrastinate?

Hope this finds all of you safe and warm, dreaming of Spring.