Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Almost Ending the Year

One more photoless project recently....Just before I learned how to do two items at the same time on one circular by doing the Maine Morning Mitts, I made a pair of ribbed, tipless gloves like I've made in the past, for the same gift exchange game. They were in Sean's Sheep "Armytage" in the cream/grey/black colourway that I also used for felted clogs last year. So, go look at the clogs, then at the other fingerless gloves and photoshop them in your mind :)

But here is a project with some pictures. I loved the creamy alpaca stole I made for my mom in late summer, and made a black one for me, using an unknown cone yarn. I could have used some black alpaca, but I wanted the stole for the cruise, and didn't think I really needed it to be in alpaca. Although with the windy, cool nights, and the air conditioning on board, alpaca would have been fine. There were a couple of rough starts again....I set up the needles and the card with the same formation (opposite needles in working position to what the manual said), but it didn't work. So I had to do it like the manual showed, and it came out the same as my mom's. I hadn't kept track of how many needles I had used for hers, but I thought it was 80-0-80. I love it when it's weighted down on the machine, but once off the machine it relaxes and really loses the openness. I don't know if blocking the alpaca out tightly helped it, but I have since heard that this is a common problem with tuck lace.

At one point I thought I was up the creek without a cruiseship, but I kept my wits and fixed the error by ripping out and re-setting the punchcard. Made me feel like some highly trained mechanic, LOL.Another odd thing...the corners stretched out a bit. And, it collects dog hair like crazy! Lucy wrapped it around like a skirt one day and it got covered. I tried washing it, but the dog hair gets woven in and trapped. It also seems to have faded a touch. And the long edges curl under, but gosh, I really don't care. I'm just happy to finally have a black stole, LOL.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Ugly and Odd but no Pictures.

I made Lucy a pair of mitts to her own specifications. She wanted pink with green spots, and to have flip tops, or a slit to slither her fingers out (like my own mitts). I wasn't happy with the start of the first one, so I started the second one to see if it would turn out better/different. It wasn't significantly different, and she didn't mind the differences, so I continued. I made them with an overlapping flap opening, but no individual fingers like convertible mitts. She liked them. However, the flaps didn't stay shut well enough, so I had to knit little bobble buttons and crocheted button loops. Better, but not anything I really want documented on here for perpetual acknowledgement, LOL.

Then I made a pair of "Maine Morning Mitts" (sorry I'm not searching for the link, but it's a popular free pattern on the internet). I used one of the Sean's Sheep yarns I got at Wal-Mart last year....about 51% wool, and has a gold thread too. This one was beiges and charcoal. I actually learned how to knit two things at once, on ONE circular needle. The cast on (especially starting the second half of the first one) and first row were scary, but now it's on my favourite technique list!!!! You do need long cables though, and flexible. So I might have to do two at once on two circulars sometime. I started these late on a Thursday afternoon before leaving for band practice, then some that night, Friday, and on Saturday all the way to near Peterborough (2 hour drive?), then wove the ends in before the surprise birthday party got rockin, then we went over to the Christmas party 20 minutes from there. They were added to a reversible 9West hat that never fit me well and a matching (commercial) scarf, to be part of a gift exchange gift. The recipient looked great in the hat, but it's not her colour so I think she might have gave them to her mother. Forgot to take a picture of them though.

Then it was time to make something for Lucy's teacher. I decided to make her a cowl that was big enough to pull up over her head and not disturb her hair. She had also been Huey's teacher two years ago, and I've never seen her wear a hat. I used Paton's Divine in the chocolatey brown and cast on a crap load of sts on the way home from that party. I had nothing else to work on in the dark. The next day I realized there were way too many sts, so I did a mini swatch, re-calculated, re-cast on, and knit away. But I did something different. I added short rows as I went down (started at the end that frames her face), so that the back would be longer to go over her hair and not be too bulky under her chin. Then, as I got near the bottom, I started increasing so it would flare out a bit on her shoulders. I had to draw a diagram cause it looked too much like a dead bunny in the gift bag, LOL.
I also decided at the last minute to make homemade hot chocolate mix for their teachers. It turned out really good (tip---use the 'ruddy' cocoa from Bulk Barn). There was a major storm fore casted for the last day of school. The day started out fine and I'm glad I had the gifts done so they could take them in the morning---Lucy's teacher (and other's from out of town) left at lunch time. It was a scary trip over!! It's only a mile, but it's hilly, and the entrance to the school is a sharp incline....
No picture of the dead bunny cowl either. LOL.
I have made a few things lately that did get their day in pictures, but they need to be loaded/edited, so you'll have to wait!

Merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Knitting

I just found this link from one of my Yahoo knitting groups. Check it out and make the fastest holiday sweater ever! LOL.

Knitting Tips

This is going to be an on-going post, I hope, as I clear out my Yahoo email of all the 'some day I'll need that info' emails.

If you want, or have to, double yarns, or want to run two yarns together add the stitch gauge of each and divide by three. Why three? I have no knittin' idea!Example: Yarn 1 =6 st per inch. Yarn 2, = 8 stitches per inch. 6 plus 8 equals 14. Divide 14 by three equals 4.67 st. per inch. I'd round it out at 4.5. Remember this is only a guestimation. Try it and see if it works.

I always convert drop sleeves to set-in sleeves.Here's how I learned:Front:First row: bind off 1" of stitches.After this, count the remaining stitches to decrease and divide into thirds.For the first 1/3 of stitches: decrease 2 stitches every row.For the next 1/3 of stitches: decrease 1 stitch every row.For the last 1/3 of stitches: decrease 1 stitch every other row.The last stitch should be decreased after three rows.Back:First row: bind off 1" of stitches.After this, count the remaining stitches to decrease and divide into thirds.For the first 1/4 of stitches: decrease 2 stitches every row.For the next 1/2 of stitches: decrease 1 stitch every row.For the last 1/4 of stitches: decrease 1 stitch every other row.The last stitch should be decreased after three rows.

For those interested, here is a blog that compared three different methods of short rows:


I really want to thank everyone who left a comment, emailed me, or posted through the Yahoo group, about my Window Dressing bathing suit coverup. It really means a lot to me when a new machine knitter writes that they're happy to read about the real trials and issues of machine knitting, and not just see a lovely picture of a final result. If I could work through everything, and end up with a fabulous finished item, then they think they could too. And they can. I know how it feels!
I was especially pleased to read that Knitman Colin had dropped by to check out my project! I enjoy reading his blog, partly for his absolutely exquisite machine knitting (scroll down to Nov 22 to see his latest sweater), but also because of his honesty and humour, and I like reading his posts about 'religion' in particular.
Sometimes we get a bit of tunnel vision. We read a whole list of knitting blogs and one day, someone links to a blog that isn't about knitting. Imagine that! There are other blogs that don't talk about knitting at all? LOL. So then we explore, and find other blogs about our 'secondary' passion....for many, it's gardening, or cooking; for me, it's birth and babies. Then you start to wonder even more....if there are 'blog celebrities' in the knitting world, are there such people in the land of....Lego blogs? Are there blogs about African violets? Snowshoeing? Macrame?
The Internet has, at the same time, made the world so much smaller, AND so much huger. You don't know what you don't know until you find out you didn't know it! I challenge everyone today to pick the first word that pops into their head, and Google it! Find out about something you never even knew you wanted to know about!
Oh, that was quite the tangent! I just wanted to say thanks to everyone, LOL!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Something I'm Very Proud Of!

I can't believe I didn't include any pictures in that last post! Okay, I see why. I either haven't actually taken finished object pictures, or haven't downloaded them yet. I've been busy with my other blog and detailing our cruise, and doing Christmas knitting. But I did find a couple pictures to talk about!

This is a project I am VERY proud to have made and finished. In the summer of 2007, I subscribed to KnitWords, a CANADIAN machine knitting magazine and the first issue I got was #41, Summer 2007, now sold out! I was stunned at the patterns. Previously I had only a few magazines from 1999/2000 (not KnitWords), and I wasn't too impressed with the patterns. I didn't think they could be too outdated, only 7 years! but I guess fashion changes more than I do! There were a few things I wanted to make in this issue, but I had that silly white shawl stuck on the Singer 327. I really wanted to finish it for the cruise, so I finally buckled down. While I was working on it, I was planning the next project, a bathing suit cover up called "Window Dressing" from the KnitWords magazine. I could mail order the yarn from a not-too-far Ontario machine knitting source, but I was having a hard time choosing just one colour! I finally picked one, and also bought some part cones she had. I finally started the cover up about 10 days before we were leaving.

I'm not sure that I realized that I was kidding myself. In the picture, it looks straight forward. It says it's for intermediate knitters. I thought that by now, I was intermediate. Ha! This project nearly whipped my butt several times! There were so many things that I hadn't particular, hadn't done as part of a formal, machine knitting pattern. Sure, I had knit with needles out of work, even done shaping, but it was my own thing, not trying to interpret someone's pattern. There was SO much knitting off on waste yarn and re-hanging and knitting one row then casting off. And there were a few typos, and errors in the pattern. It was making my head hurt, LOL. I got a couple pieces knit before I gave up so I could finish the flowered dress I had been making, that was also supposed to be "EASY!" but wasn't.

For a long time, a piece of Window Dressing hung on the machine, waiting for me to go on to the next step. Last spring/summer, I finally did the next step (re-hang, knit one row, cast off) and it took me longer to figure out where I was in the pattern and where the stuff was and blow the dust off the cone, then it did to do the step. I worked on a couple other projects while it was off the machine (my mother's shawl, actually, that might have been the only project on the 327; I was using the LK150 a lot). I decided when we booked this year's cruise that I would finish it. I had 9 weeks. That would be enough, right?

I started corresponding with the designer, who lives near where I bought the yarn from. We're in several Yahoo machine knitting groups together, so I felt really blessed to be able to approach her and work through my many issues with the pattern. I don't think you could do this with some of the bigger hand knitting designers! Eileen had been on several cruises and had knit several versions of her cover up, and I truly would not have finished if it weren't for her letting me cyberhold her hand!

I am very proud to have finished such an ambitious project!! NOW, I feel like I really am an intermediate machine knitter!! LOL. And, I have to admit, it's the little details that made this a great finished item. When I first looked at the picture, I assumed it was knit from the bottom up, one piece for the back, one piece, then divided for the front. Add the neck band and's a run down:

1) Knit an inner casing (easy).
2)Knit another inner casing (easy).
3)Knit skirt.
4)Remove on waste yarn, rehang (tricky) involving some decreasing.
5)Hang casing over skirt, knit one row, remove on waste yarn
6)Rehang bottom of skirt (tricky), knit some 'marker rows' and a bunch of plain rows
7)Pick up the sts of the marker row onto the needles. (Very tricky).
8)Knit one row, bind off.

So, to sum up, there's a skirt with a bottom hem, and a casing, still open, at the top.

This is the bottom hem. I'm not sure I did the right cast off (but I also don't remember what I did). This is the wrong side, and on the right side, the join to the body looks tight, and tends to flip the hem up a little. The sleeves don't' do this.

There's one casing left in the workbasket, and the next step is to make the back. Which I did, however, there was an error, and two skirts should have been made first.

9)Upper back...not too hard until shaping for arms--didn't know what to do with the out of work needles, and then short rowing the shoulders.
10)Fill empty needles and take off on waste yarn. I forgot to do this with at least two of the shoulders.
11)pick up 4sts on each side of neck, knit 1 row, bind off.
12)Rehang bottom of upper back.

12b)Knit another casing because you don't think the one left in the workbasket is right. Screw up, then knit it again. Realize in the end that it's exactly the same as what's in the basket.

13)hang casings sts (already joined to the skirt) from waste yarn, and pull through.
14)Knit one row and bind off.

So, the upper back and skirt are joined by this casing, which was knit separately. Pretty sneaky---having you knit the easiest pieces first, LOL!

This is the inside where the bottom meets the casing, and the top where it joins the top and casts off.

15)Knit right front, again, not tricky until doing shaping. Part of my problem was that I wasn't sure I had done it right for the back, AND, it had been so long ago I couldn't remember anything.

16)Knit left front, same as right but in reverse.

17)Join fronts to skirt casing, like for the back, treating the two front pieces as one. That involves a few steps again.
18)Join shoulder seams. I did the first shoulder wrong THREE times!!! I kept putting the wrong sides together. I really wanted to do it on the machine, like real machine knitters, LOL, instead of grafting by hand. I would have only had to do it once if I did it by hand! Each time I had to rip it out, there were problems with the sts filling the empty needles, and the wraps from the short wasn't a fun day here that day!!!

The inside back neck and shoulder seams. I had a loop where something happened during the back neck shaping. As well, the yarn broke at one point and I didn't notice, so I had a barely two inch tail to secure. It's not too pretty on the inside, but I made sure when I took it off at the pool to fold it up right side out :)

19) Knit neckband....think you know what to do, but doubt yourself and follow the incorrect instructions anyway.
20)Get totally confused by the instructions to join the neckband to the body. Try really hard to figure it out on my own, but I'm clueless. Eileen to the rescue.
21)Knit second half of neckband after another email to Eileen to decipher the instructions.
22)Join rest of neckband to body.

Now, it's time for the sleeves. At this point, I was thinking of leaving it sleeveless. The neckband really kicked my butt, mainly because the pattern instructions were so vague. But the armhole openings curled and looked unfinished, and I figured I had probably knitted the hardest parts by now, LOL.

23)The main part was the same as starting the skirt, then there was the shaping
24)Hem the bottom as per the skirt--rehang sleeve sts, knit hem, pick up sts (I HATED this step), knit one row and cast off

25)Repeat for second sleeve!

Then there's the pocket. Cleverly designed to perfectly fit your cabin card, I couldn't leave it off.
26)Pick up sts from skirt
27)As you knit a row, you pick up a st from the body and put it on the end needle, so it joins the sides of the pocket to the body as you knit!
28)Knit a few more rows, then pick up hem sts to fold over top edge, Knit 1 row and bind off (there's a good picture of the pocket in the magazine).
29)Buttonloop--pick up 3 sts from top edge, knit 8rows, join to top edge, knit 1 row, bind off.

30)Sew all the #%$)@! seams, and buttons, and weave in the ends.

I found perfect buttons in the discount bin at Fabricland---35cents!!

Whew!! If I had really read the pattern, I would have realized there was no way I was doing all that in 10 days! I find with a lot of magazines that patterns start out with lots of detail, but as the pattern goes along, and space starts running out, details get more vague. That's what happened here I think. It could have easily used another page.

I was thinking I might sew the front two pieces closed and wear it as a dress. But I decided not to, because I thought once I wore it as a dress (and I had lots of dresses with me), I wouldn't want to wear it over my bathing suit again. Every time I wore it, Rob commented on how great it looked. He seemed really surprised that it turned out so good!

I can easily see this as a dress. On the model in the magazine, it comes to her upper thighs, on me, just above the knee! The upper pieces are a little long, but I need the length for the sleeve openings. It's as if the entire upper front needs to be raised a bit, but the armholes stay the same size. Often when I alter sleeveless tops/dresses I just shorten the straps. The back is also a little loose on me, causing the upper back to be a little baggy and droopy. I could have knitted a smaller size for the back (but I didn't feel up to altering the neck/sleeves). I had hoped that my breast reduction would stop the need for knitting smaller backs, but I guess not, LOL. I did put a ribbon inside the casing, but it was a little awkward trying to tie a bow on the inside. A wide elastic would work, but Eileen cautioned against that if using it as a bathing suit cover up over a bikini....any red marks left by the elastic would not be attractive, LOL.

All in all, I am very glad I didn't give up on this. It is a little heavier than I expected it to be, but if I did it as a cover up again, I would make it at least 4 inches shorter in the skirt, LOL. I meant to check my gauge and see how it compared to the pattern...I learned so much with this pattern and I can't wait to make something else. Funny thing is...there are other items in that issue I want to make...and they are listed as beginner level!!! LOL!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Vacation Knitting Gone Awry

First off, thanks to "Catbookmom" for acknowledging how I felt and identifying with it, regarding the various uses of Noro (and it's not just Noro, there are other expensive yarns out there making me feel the same way). I don't knit alot for myself, but over the past year I did do some scarves, hats and mitts/gloves for myself, so I am feeling a bit more generous when it comes to making those things for others. I don't think I could spend $30 on a baby sweater, even for a grandchild.....I don't like to spend that much on myself even. And there's some of the issue.....I know a baby is worthy of a $30 sweater, but I don't feel that I am, so therefor, how could a baby actually be? Put the oxygen mask on yourself first before helping children!
And "Needles of Steel"....I remember looking at your Lizard Ridge as you were making it. If I remember, you didn't just go out and buy all the yarn at once? That makes it more realistic, in my warped mind, then someone who just goes out and buys $125 worth of Noro to have just because they like the colour. Although, isn't that a heavy blanket? It's beautiful though.

Anyway. Onwards.
When packing for the cruise, I gave careful consideration to what projects I would take. I had the pink gloves that needed the ends woven in. I had ripped out the February Lady Sweater and re-planned to use two colours. I had the entrelac Socks That Rock socks that were in the middle of the first heel. There was also the "Enchanted" silk top. I decided to pack the FLS for the plane ride because most of the trip would be in the dark of evening and it was truly going to be mindless once I casted on. I couldn't fit the yarn in my "personal carry on" and not in my suitcase carry on, so I passed it to Rob to put in his bag. We got to the airport, through security, got my coffee and a snack and went to sit by the gate. I opened my big carry on, and there was no black yarn. Just two balls of the second colour. I opened Rob's carry on, and there was no yarn at all. Nothing. He said "Oh, I put it in the suitcase, you didn't tell me to put it in the carry on." OMG. We had over 4 hours of flying time ahead of us, not to mention waiting time.

After the initial shock, I took stock. I had the needles for the FLS, I had the pattern. I just didn't have the black yarn to start the yoke with. I decided I would cast on the number of sts where you start the lace. I got going. Normally I would do a crochet cast on, but didn't have a crochet hook. If it were a small project, I would just suffer with using a knitting needle as a crochet hook, but there were a LOT of sts to cast on. I decided to do a 'knitted cast on' so that it would be loose enough to pick up the yoke sts and work upwards later on. Started casting on, then remembered that the garter st bands were going to be in the black too. Decided I would just have to knit and attach those later.

We got into our seats on the tiny plane. I think it is the smallest commercial plane I had ever been on. It was only 4 seats across. Rob and I were sitting together, and I got out my knitting so I'd have something to do during take off, even though I get so freaked out that I can't even knit, LOL. As she passed, the stewardess reached across Rob and took my knitting. She said she "had to check the needle tips." "Why?" I said. "Some are really sharp and pointy and aren't' allowed." "Uh, the TSA website says knitting needles are allowed and there are no qualifiers given to the type of needles." "We still have to check." Okay, whatever. I was using old 4.5mm or 5mm fairly blunt circulars....perfect choking instrument, terrible stabbing tool, LOL. I told her it was a good thing I wasn't on 'her' plane last year when I was knitting socks on tiny, pointy, double pointed needles!
Then, Rob and I got out our ancient Canada 3000 headsets (that airline has been out of business for how long?) and plugged them in. This plane had the little screen in the seat back in front of you and I was curious to how that was going to work. I thought maybe the safety presentation would be on the screen. At the very least, I was hoping for some sound deadening affect. The same attendant came by and said we had to remove our headsets for takeoff...."TSA rules". Ummmm.....nothing was being broadcast over the plane's system and we weren't using any personal electronic devices!
I wonder if there's any relation between these instances and the Coke Classic that was added to my Diet Coke as they were serving drinks? LOL. I know she saw that I saw that she finished the can of Coke Classic into the cup she gave me!

So, I worked on the FLS for the short flight to Chicago, and while we waited in Chicago. Rob was happy we didn't have to claim our luggage, but I wouldn't have minded, LOL.
On the flight to Miami I was squashed in between two men. The man next to the window had left China that morning and was pretty tired and slept. The other man kept his little light on, and it was more than enough so I didn't need to use the new light I had bought.

One day near the beginning of the cruise (like, the second day, which is the first full day), we were lounging by the pools and I decided to go back down and get my knitting. I grabbed the entrelac sock and the instructions that I had copied just before we left. Finished off the heel (it didn't work out exactly like the instructions, but oh well) and read what was next. "Do little triangles as per the instructions for the very first row of triangles after the toe shaping". Well....I didn't copy the first page of instructions because I had already done that part of the sock! So that project became stalled. Later in the week I thought I'd give the Enchanted top a go. I couldn't remember what I had done last, except that I was in a transition area. I looked in the page protector where I had put the instructions for all the projects. It wasn't there. I looked in the suitcases, nothing. There was no going forward with that project either. While waiting in Miami to come back I wove the ends in on my gloves, and got working on the FLS again. I was worried that I might actually run out of yarn before we landed (I hadn't expected to get too far into the green section so I hadn't packed much of that colour). I did make it though.

Once home, I picked up the FLS again, and thought "I should just rip this back--again--and start over properly". But no, I didn't. Please don't remind me of that when I get to the button bands and am unhappy with how it's working/looking!!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Ravelry and Jealousy

I joined Ravelry awhile ago. I had been a little hesitant to join, as I had joined Facebook and I have limits to how much time to 'waste' on the computer. I also don't have a Flickr account so I can't post photos, and I'm not about to bring all my stash upstairs to catalogue it online. I joined a few groups, but I like Yahoo groups better cause all the notifications go to my email. I have found Ravelry great for comparing projects made of different yarns, and for looking at different projects made of the same yarn.

One of the yarns I frequently check out is Noro Kuryeon. I'm hoping to find THE pattern, but haven't yet. I am really surprised at the lack of interesting things people do with this yarn. It would lend itself really nicely to very creative garment structures, but this just isn't happening. Instead, there are a million hats, scarves, mitts, and teacosies. There are even longies and soakers. Now, these are all gorgeous items, due to the Noro, and if I could afford it, and had a local place to get it, perhaps I would make mitts or a Turn a Square hat. But what really gets me, are the things such as felted turtles and baby toys. I can't imagine spending $30 to make a baby sweater out of Noro (although it's gorgeous; it's just I can't spend that sort of money on that sort of item). But to buy Noro to make something like a felted turtle toy? Or a stuffed dinosaur?

On one hand, I am scoffing at their frivolousness. But I think, inside, I am actually jealous. I would love to be frivolous. I'm just too frugal. Lately I was trying to find a yarn in my stash for a special gift. Every yarn that I thought was nice enough for a gift, I wanted to keep to make something for myself. Wow, I'm pretty selfish. Yarn hog.