Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Thinking Time Equals Knitting Time

Over the last few days, preparing to publicly declare  my knitting goals for 2012,   I have had  lots of fiber-y thoughts running through my mind.   What  better activity to accompany  fiber-y thoughts than knitting? 

When I sat myself down with a stern admonition to focus  -  get those goals set, I accompanied that focusing/thinking with the cast on for my next Felted Bucket Hat.
This one, number six, I think,  is knit with Berroco Ultra Alpaca a 50% Wool, 50% Alpaca yarn that should felt well.  It is meant   to coordinate with this colourful scarf 

and both to be worn with my new winter coat. 

Fortunately, with our spring-like winter, there has been no rush to finish the hat.  Now though, having my 2012  knitting goals in front of me, I am motivated to get started.  Knitting  this hat was the last on my 'to-knit' list before casting on for a 2012 goal-oriented project.
Huge in it's un-felted state, it should be just right after tonight's felting.  Then  I am ready to   knit on with renewed 'en - toos - iasm' and also  ready for   some cold, winter-like weather.

Monday, January 30, 2012

No Longer Goal-Less

With January almost complete,  today's  declaration of my 2012 knitting goals is far from  a New Year's statement.  But for some reason, this year,  a clear vision of my knitting goals has eluded me.  Still, even though I am ready to declare that I do have goals and to tell you what they are, the vision blurs

Unlike 2010, in which my goal was to knit only Elizabeth Zimmermann patterns or if not her patterns, then at least to use her methodology, the 2012 goal(s) include more variety - or less focus - depending on your point of view.  There are multiple goals.

Number one is  to knit enough sweaters on my LK 150 to become comfortable and easy with machine knitting.  I want it to be a viable choice for each and every sweater I knit.  If carpal tunnel or time constraints interfere with my hand knitting, I do not want to be left outside  of the world of fibre.  It was Sandra, with her Sunday Afternoon Sweater that twigged me to this goal.

Number two is to knit enough sweaters using the Contiguous method, developed by Susie M and seen on ravelry, to become comfortable and easy with this new-to-me, top-down method of knitting.  Susie's contiguous method knits top down,  but,  has  set-in sleeves.  Fake set-in sleeves that is.  With this method, striping or patterns run across both the body and sleeves at the same time -  as they would do in a raglan.  But the Contiguous sweater,   with it's fake set-in sleeves, has a more tailored look.

Number three is to be more creative.  Whether that creativity involves  colour, texture or self designing, my goal would be to think outside of the box, use multiple yarns in one garment, use fewer commercial patterns and just generally march more to the tune of my own drummer.

Number four - Holy Doodle - maybe I have overdone it - is to complete the task of repairing or re-jigging any of my current sweaters that don't please me 110%.

With this public declaration, I hope you will hold me to a high standard.  Well, any standard really, as my normal way of approaching things - with a lack of commitment and even  less self-discipline mean without someone watching over my needles, I won't do well on my own.   Performance review in eleven months.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Done Thrummin'

Thrumming is fun!  In just a couple of days, I knit this hat.
A warm, wooly, fun hat.

Using some left over Briggs & Little yarn at 18 stitches to four inches  and some left over B&L roving, I cast on 112 stitches.  In retrospect that was a few too many.  96 would have given me a  closer fitting band.  The 112 came from some ravelry research where knitters knit their thrummed hats using  knitting worsted yarn, at 20 stitches to four inches.  I knew my yarn was a bit thicker   BUT    to increase wind resistance and keep the thrums from getting loose  I decided to use smaller-than-normal needles and chose 3.75mm.  With that smaller needle, I thought  I needed the extra stitches to compensate.  Turns out I didn't.  The hat won't blow off but could have benefitted from a tighter band.

There are four and a half inches of 2x2 ribbing - enough to fold double over the ears.  Three rows of plain knitting follow the ribbing before beginning the thrummed rows.    Thrummed rows are
three rows apart.  For no particular reason, I chose to offset the thrums.  The first off-set row required concentration but after that it was simple to follow the pattern.

Knitting for an average adult, I knit the hat to a depth of five and a half inches from the bottom of the folded ribbing before beginning the decreases.  My hats and my socks have decrease rounds in common.  I prefer the 'rounded' look.  To accomplish this, I decrease every other round until half the stitches have disappeared, then decrease every round.  That faster rate of decrease keeps the hat a bit flatter, less pointy, on top.

The hat is fun and warm.  Not  your 'steppin'-out-in-style' kind of hat -  at least south of the Arctic Circle it's not - but practical.  Great for a walk on a cold, windy, winter's day.  With the added bonus that is it perfect for a great  Hallowe'en costume or the Teddy Bear's Picnic.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thursdays Are For Knit Group

No snow storm today meant lots of knitters out for fun and  laughter.  Oh yes - and knitting.

We laughed when Ruth showed off her new sweater.
"I made it to wear when I bowl, because  the bowling alley is so cold," said Ruth.  
Someone asked - "Oh you bowl? "
"Geriatric bowling,"    deadpaned Ruth.  
Different colours, different stitiches.  A great geriatric bowling sweater, I'd say.

Lauren, so happy is she,  was full of laughter when showing off her knitting.  
"I get it now, I get it now" she said of the top-down, baby  cardigan  she is knitting.   Last week, Lauren was struggling to comprehend this, her first sweater pattern. She kept scaring herself by flipping way far forward in the pattern, epressing disbelief that it would work.  Lauren is a great vocalist so  I chastised her.  "Lauren, if you can read music, you can read that pattern."  That was all it  took.  She did it!  We knew you could, Lauren.

Wilma looks pretty happy with her latest sweater.  On the needles last Thursday, on Wilma today. 
Knit top-down, in Paton's Classic,with a great collar.
Nice addition to the winter wardrobe, Wilma, and the perfect colour for you.

We were all smiling to see 'no-longer-new'  Nan, up for  a couple of weeks of R&R at their place on the bay.
Great to see you in mid-winter, Nan.

There was especially lots of laughter when I tried on my almost-finished, thrummed hat - needles, hanging yarn and all.     I was forced to  try it on, because someone  Lauren asked " What is it?"
 Knit group and laughter - a great antidote to a grey winter's day.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Just Thrummin

The Knitting Gang, at the LYS where I work on Wednesdays, decided they wanted to learn to do some thrum knitting.   Trying to lead by example,  never one to be left behind, I decided to knit along with them.  Take a look at the beginnings of my thrummed hat.
Using some Briggs &Little yarn and roving from my stash, and  my Need A Hat book for stitch count,I just finished my second row of thrums.

There are various ways to create  thrums,  but  I chose to pull  - rather than cut  - the roving at a longer than necessary length.

Once the hat is  knit, I will  cut the thrums off evenly leaving them just long enough to fill in the naked   un-thrummed rows.
Like the many ways to create thrums, there are  also many ways to  insert them.  I chose the easy method - surprise, surprise.  Working with a multiple of four stitches, I knit three stitches with the yarn, then one stitch with the roving.   When ready for the  roving stitch, by folding the roving in half and laying it on the needle, I simply knit with it rather than the yarn.    The yarn crosses behind the roving to get to the  next stitch, thereby anchoring it.  The disadvantage of this method  - so I'm told - is  IF the thrum happens to pull out, there is nothing to hold the stitch.  It could drop.  However knowing wool's propensity to stick to itself, I find it hard to imagine that happening.

You can see, in the upper photo,  my four-inch deep ribbing.  I wanted it deep enough to fold in half over the ears.  My thinking was,  if  knititng a double-layered  hat (a layer of yarn on the right side and a  layer of thrum tails on the inside)   shouldn't the ears be covered by a double layer as well?  I think so.

It has been a long time since I have knit somethng with thrums.  It is fun.  And while the hat isn't  my style, it will be a very wam one for someone.  Any grand kids raising their hands?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Addicted To Accessories

Accessories were never  a category of knits that caused me to reach for my needles.   But lately, I seem to be addicted to them.    With my new winter coat as yet undecorated, I couldn't resist this lovely Cascade Yarn.  Called Nikki - just like our Nicki from knit group, if you don't count spelling.  And since Nicki is the reason I have a new winter coat - heck - it was meant to be.

You see Nicki has a theory about winter coats.  She thinks one should have several.  Her theory  - and I have decided to stick to it - is that when one leaves the house in the winter months, one rarely removes the coat.  Grocery shopping, running errands, taking the dog for a walk.  See what she means?  Until Nicki enlightened me with her 'many coats theory' a few years back I was a one-winter-coat woman.  No More.  I am now a coat-a-year girl. 

Using my favourite one row pattern from these creative folks but tuning it   on it's side, I knit it lengthwise.  
220 yards made me about eight feet of a gorgeous, bright, winter-blahs-dashing scarf

 - with just a few yards left to decorate the co-ordinating hat.  Yep.  There will be a hat.  Another Felted Bucket Hat coming up.  Addicted, I tell you.  Addicted.  Or maybe just avoiding those
goal- setting goals I set for myself.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thursdays Are For Knit Group

Winter arrived.

As I drove to knit group today, I did think  "Any sane person would turn around and go home."  Insanity being common  amongst knitters, I drove on.  I did think I might just drop in, say hi, then head for home.  But of course the yarn fumes got to me.

Although only 6 of us braved the weather  there was knitting, snacks and fun.  Gail had a request for a pair of gardening socks.  Short-legged gardening socks to be exact.  For a friend  that can't stand  anything on her legs.  Grey was the colour choice but Gail is giving them the feminine touch with the pink stripes. 

Gail expressed our obsession perfectly when she told how immediately after her friend requested the socks, she  was 'just itching' to  head out to the yarn store.  Been there. Done that.

Sharon is gifting her daughter with a pair of un-felted, felted clogs. 
Sharon did the knitting, her daughter can do the felting.

After the slippers, Sharon too cast on for some striped socks.
 Like-minded knitters this group.

Wilma showed us the pattern for her latest sweater. 

Looks almost finished, Wilma.

At home or at knit group, snow days are great knit days.  Who knew knitting was so weather-related?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Off The Board

Off the blocking board and around my neck, I present my Linen Stitch Scarf. 


as is the fashion at knit group this year and which Wilma has to demonstrate weekly because none of us but her remembers,

and lastly 'halved and through'
as all the young people do.  It is a great addition to my wardrobe.  Green because I know what looks good on me but with other colours because I am open to different colours. Really.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The End Of The Never-Ending

Some fool notion got into my head in December, making me think that knitting a six-foot, Linen Stitch scarf with sock yarn was something I should do.  Something fun to knit.  Something to fill the time between major projects.  Fill the time it did.

Sock yarn is a fine-gauge yarn.  It does not knit up fast.  Linen stitch is compressed.  It does not knit up fast.  Linen stitch in sock yarn?  Double the snail-ness of the pace.

Fortunately, Denise of Needles & Things  gave me a suggestion from a friend of hers.  Knit it in the round she said.  No nasty purls to slow you down.  It was possible to go slower?  By the middle of the second  row of 500 stitches,  trying to Linen Stitch in purl, I knew that  I would never knit this scarf  and remain sane.  Despite having to re-cast-on those 500 stitches,  Denise's friend's idea started to hold great appeal.  I frogged and started over. 

To knit it in the round, I needed a 'steek'.  Those 'steek'  stitches, unravelled,  would form the fringe.  I cast on the 500 stitches for the Linen Stitch scarf  plus 30 extra stitches for thestockinet stitch 'steek'.     You can see the difference in depth of stockinet versus the compressed Linen Stitch

Changing colours at the beginning of each row, I left a long tail.  In hind sight, the 30 stitches provided enough of a 'tail' of yarn and I  probably didn't need the 'long tail'.  No matter.  No harm done and not enough wasted to be a bother.

If possible I like to knit a scarf lengthwise.  Much less 'to-ing and fro-ing'.  The initial cast-on can seem endless, but once started, the thought of only knitting five inches is very motivating.  Especially in sock-weight, Linen Stitch.

Last night I cast off and cut up the centre of those 30 stitches. 
Six feet in length, using three vareigated and three solid-colour sock yarns, the scarf  is lovely - even with a very tangled, unblocked fringe.  The thing about Linen Stitch is that it appears to be woven.  Without purchasing a costly loom, this is a close as I could get to a woven-look scarf.  Of course as my Dad would say "  If your time is worth anything...." 

Yes, I know, the loom might have been cheaper.  But the scarf is finished. I like it.  The colours are wonderful and the never-ending-ness will become less a pain and more a great story with each wearing.

Monday, January 16, 2012

My Green Sweater - Renewed

Almost two years ago now, I knit Elizabeth Zimmermann's Green Sweater.  It was my 2010 Olympic project.  Interesting construction, especially the sleeves.  Knit top down with the decrease line running down the centre - on the top, not under arm side-  of the sleeve.

There had always been a bit of a bump  - a wing - as the sleeve neared the shoulder seam.

  I blocked it away but it came back.  Each time I wore the  sweater, I would furiously try to hand-press it away,   but it always came back.

With that little bump bothering me, I found I wasn't wearing 'Green' very often.   What good is a sweater on the shelf?  The wing, I was sure could be fixed and this morning, I took the plunge.  Pinning out the extra fabric from the inside,

then basting it from the inside confirmed for me that I would like the look better without the wing.   

Turning the sweater back to the right side, I worked a mattress stitch seam up the sleeve.  Beginning about half way up with a narrow seam, widening the seam as I approached the shoulder, then decreasing it sharply again in the last inch or so before the shoulder seam. What a difference.

No more 'wings'.    Of course I'd rather spend my knitting time on 'new' knits.  But sometimes re-newed works too.  De-winged, 'Green' now has a date with the ladies for lunch tomorrow. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thursdays Are For Knit Group.

Not the first 2012 knit group - but  my first.  With my runny nose at bay, I couldn't wait to see everyone and get caught up on their news and knitting.

 Sharon's daughter gave her some wonderful Fleece Artist at Christmas and over  the holidays, she whipped up a Shalom.  Look what happens when a knitter pairs a great pattern with wonderful yarn. 
It is delightful, Sharon.

Gloria is somewhere warm and sunny  for the rest of the winter.  But just because she isn't here, Gloria, doesn't mean we aren't thinking of her.  Gail made several hats over the holidays and  this one - destined for a grand daughter -  is striped with the mohair that she snatched from Gloria's great, yarn give-away.  
Nothing is ever wasted with this group.

Lauren arrived today with the beginnings of a baby sweater. 
Top down from the  Need A Baby Cardigan book, it is Lauren's first.  She is at that 'why is this written in a foreign language' stage.  Don't worry, Lauren, it gets easier. 

Doreen   (Look at those knitter's hands flying)  showed off the lovely scarf that Marlene  -   one of our group we don't see often, now that  she  works Thursday afternoons -  knit her for Christmas.
It is soft and drapey and beautiful colours.  

Ruth, with her great sense of fun, asked me  if I would like her to model the hats she knit for her grand sons to wear under their ski-do helmets.
Great hats, Ruth - attractive on either sex, apparently.  Using a    2 x 2 rib, knit 5 inches to keep the neck warm.  Cast off 16 for the mouth opening,  knit 13 rows, then cast on 20 and carry on. 

Great fun and great projects.  I noticed my cold symptoms were much lessened while at knit group.  Yarn will do that to you.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Mini Goal

Along with my goal- setting thoughts, this yarn has lately been on  my mind.
Purchased a few years back, it has been patiently waiting on my shelf.

There was love at first sight when I spotted this yarn.  A colour that others might call bilious or even puky, I loved.  The  olive greeness of it,   I saw  as  delightful and mine.  A by-the-bag-only sale, meant that despite not having  a plan, design or goal  I was 'forced' to purchase a ten-ball bag.  It has been percolating in the back of my mind since then.

Last year, I almost decided what to do with it.  When Sally Melville's book Cool Gifts, Warm Knits came out, this pattern caught my eye .
In either  vest or sweater form,  I  thought it perfect.  It did require ball #11 - but what the heck -
'in for a penny, in for a pound'.   This wonderful shade of Twilley's Freedom co-ordinated perfectly.
All 11 balls have since been resting quietly in a zippered bag.

But lately,I've been thinking that maybe Sally's sweater/vest isn't for me.  That large-ish cowl could overwhelm a short, petite person.  And it ends up inside out - a look I don't like at all.    And then there is Sally's signature,  set-in sleeves.  Set-in sleeves that aren't really.  With shoulder seams  that  sag below the shoulder bump.  Not something I like.

Then!!!   Over Christmas I saw this, Tricosa's Yes a sweatrrrrrrr.    I loved it.  The creativity.  The originality.  The surprise of contrast. I think I have my design.  Not a year-long goal  but a start.  A mini goal.  Do I finish the forever linen stitich scarf or dive into my bag of olive green.  That is my next decision.

Monday, January 9, 2012

About Goals And Computers

2012 is already 9 days old and I have yet to set knitting goals for the year.  Knitting goal-free is fine.  Many knitters do that.  But ever since 2010, my very goal-intense  year with Elizabeth Zimmermann,  I got to know the real me.  I am a knitter who does better with goals.

I stay  more focused,  learn more and grow more as a knitter. Dorky, I know, but  I like that.

But this year, no goals have come into focus. There are a few goal-like  thoughts running through my mind: Learning more about machine knitting, learning more about top-down construction, in particular learning more about designing  top down, studying the fit-to flatter series and designing more of my own knits.

Way too many ideas for one year.  Maybe the get-started step would be to set a goal of setting the goal.
 In the meantime, post Fred's red-wool sweater, I have taken up my Linen stitch scarf again.
Knit with sock yarn, it is the slowest-ever scarf.  There are probably about two weeks of knitting into this scarf already.  Including last night's 6 rows,  I have still less than three inches. How pathetic is that?
Interfering with my knitting as well as my goal-setting thoughts is my struggle to get  used to a new computer.  A few of you have emailed to tell me about troubles  accessing links in the sidebar of my blog.  I have been told that re-installation on the new system is a good idea to make them easier to access and I am in the process of doing that.    But in the meantime, if you read my blog using blogspot dot com, try reading it using www.brendaknits.ca  It should make accessing links better.  At least, it worked for some.
Hopefully soon, the goals will be set, the linen stitch scarf finished and my new computer a comfortable fit.  In the meantime - where can I get a good computer guru?

Friday, January 6, 2012

January 6th - This Hubby's Christmas

Knitters Christmas and look what was finished on time!  Fred's specially-requested, red, wool, sweater. 

Seen here  inside out and on the blocking board.
I am a steam blocker and to prevent the heat from discolouring  the yarn, I always block inside out.  Pin out to size, then hover the steam iron over the garment until the heat and steam set the stitches. 

This photo I snapped as Fred began to put it on.
Followed by his very natural  er, stiff pose.
It fits, he likes it, it looks good and I'm happy.  There are no buttons on it yet, and Fred seems to think that means he can't wear it.  Hah!  He turned down my offer of a shawl pin.


Yarn:  Ella Rae. 100% wool.   I purchased 8 balls of the wine colour and one white.  According to Ann Budd's yardage chart,  in this weight of yarn, a 48 inch sweater requires 1800 yards.  With 200 yards per ball  but  only eight of the wine coloured balls on the shelf, the white was meant to make up the difference.  My thoughts were a white band on the upper chest.  As you can see, that didn't happen.  I used 6 balls of the wine coloured yarn and a bit of stash grey for some interest.


Needles:  4.5 mm and 4.00mm for the button bands.  Knit Picks Zephyr.

Pattern:  Personal.  Based on Elizabeth Zimmermann's percentage system.  I used a sweater from Fred's wardrobe as a template, measuring it and casting on enough stitches in the gauge of 20 stitches over four inches to give me the 48 inch finished chest.  Did I do a gauge swatch?  Does   a gauge sleeve count?

Method:  The sweater was knit in the round in a pattern of  K9, P1.  The purl stitch was inserted to give both the sweater and the knitter some interest.  Once the sleeves were joined to the body, I knit about one and a half inches to give some freedom under the arms before beginning the raglan decreases.  At the same time as  the raglan decreases were begun, I also started the 'V' neck decreases  - but at half the speed.  Raglan lines were decreased every other round, the neck every fourth round.  When the sleeves had five percent of total stitches left, I worked back and forth on the sleeves and back only.  Elizabeth's method to raise the back neck -works perfectly every time.

Steek:  This centre-front steek, I crocheted.  My first-ever crocheted steek, was on my
  'Lloie's Anniversary Cardigan'.  Another EZ pattern.  While slower to do than racing up the centre front  with a sewing machine set on zig zag, it gives a beautifully and totally finished edge.  No need to tack down yarn ends on the inside of the sweater.  The crochet was done in a finer yarn - in this case, grey sock yarn.

 It was an easy, quick sweater to knit and if there had been no  seasonal hullabaloo would most likely have been finished inside of three weeks. 

Now to think about 2012 knitting.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Thursdays Are For Knit Group.

Well, at least Thursdays are supposed to be for knit group.  But today, my very leaky nose and runny eyes kept me home. 

So while the rest of the gang knit and chatted, I sat and blew and wiped. 

I promise to have pictures of them all with their new year's knitting, next week.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like ...

A red, wool, hand-knit sweater topped Fred's wish list this Christmas.  Although he didn't actually specify, I am pretty sure he meant  finished, red,wool, hand-knit sweater.  Sorry, Fred.

I tried for the Christmas deadline, but with other prep being more pressing, not all that hard, actually. Following the 25th, I flirted briefly with a December 31 finish date.  A day with  benefits for  both of us.  Fred would start 2012 with a new sweater and I would start the year  with my first finished sweater.  Not surprisingly, that goal disappeared with the leftover turkey.  

My knitting buddies and blog readers all said January 6th would do.  One even authoritatively said that the date is known in knitting circles as Knitters Christmas.  Good enough for me,  January 6th became my new goal and   I think I  will make it.

Monday night I steeked, using crocheted, rather than sewn edges.  Yesterday, I ribbed the bands.  Today?  Well, I might re-do the bands.  Another row between buttonholes and cast-off would look better I think.  Then it's grafting the underarms, weaving in ends and crossing the finish line. 
Looks good  - very guyish.   IMHO.