Friday, February 27, 2009

Anniversary - 'Blog-versary'

Well, well, well. It pays to look at the calendar. I remembered that it was February when I started this blog last year, and this morning decided to check the exact date. Good thing I did. Today's the day.

As is the custom here in 'Blogland' I am giving away a 'blog-versary' gift. When I worked at London Yarns, I taught a four- session class on how to knit socks. Called 'Socks 101'.

In the beginning, I typed up sheets of notes for the students. Many of them were impressed with those notes and indeed some of them kept encouraging me to 'publish'. Eventually, I did.

Well, to be exact, I printed, rather than published. After that, sock-class students received my booklet when they signed up for the class. I worked at London Yarns for five years, and each year taught 'Socks 101' three or four times. With an average of 6 students per class, I have taught about 100 knitters to make socks and most of them used the 'Socks 101' booklet to do it.

More a 'recipe' than a pattern, the booklet takes you from sock anatomy to techniques for knitting each part of the sock. There are also pattern ideas, places for your own notes and the story of how I came to be a sock knitter.

So - to celebrate my first year of blogging, I am giving away an autographed copy of my booklet. Simply leave a comment and Fred will do a random draw one week from today. March 6th.

And of course - Thank You For Reading.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thursdays Are For Knit Group And Survivor

Another grey Thursday here in Grey County and another day of bright and brilliant at knit group.

Yes, in case you've wondered, Gail actually does finish things. She came with proof today.
Three completed projects. A little sweater, a bigger sweater and some Newfie Mitts.
The little sweater is knit with Bamboo. Great colour combo, Gail.

Megan has finished her socks and loves the 'Afterthought Heel'.
I have never tried one myself, but think I might have to put that on my list. The ladies behind you seem to find that pose quite funny, Megan.

Our human knitting machine - Wilma - has almost finished a topper for her daughter.
The pattern picture shows lovely non-curling cap sleeves. But Wilma's blocked and finished sleeves are curling. She finished them according to pattern instructions which was to put a round of single crochet around the edge. She's looking for suggestions, so leave a comment if you think you have a way to prevent the sleeves from curling.

A couple of weeks ago, the other Brenda's Mohair Bolero looked like this

Today, it's almost finished. The stitch pattern at the bottom of the sleeves, shown below, also goes around the neck. It's light and warm and should be lovely with the 'little black dress'.

Nicki has an amorphous blob that she SAYS folds in half to create a vest. I think we'll need a modelled shot when that's done for sure Nicki, because it sure doesn't look like a vest.
Do you think?

And Bonnie has another anomaly. This, she says is a sweater.
That's Gail's laughing face in the background. I think she has her doubts, too. Again, modelled shots when done, please.

And poor poetic Pat. The photo of today's stuffed animal - a headless monkey -came out blurry and not fit to post. Sorry Pat.

Another fun time. And Survivor tonight. A great way to spend the day.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Home Shopping

Look what was in the mail yesterday.
Two balls of Lana Grossa Bosco sock yarn.

Ramwools made me do it. On sale for $7.95 per ball. These two are intended for more Mohair Socks.
Mohair socks are addictive. One strand lace weight Mohair, one strand sock yarn. 48 stitches with a 3 mm needle. Easy, fast to knit and sooo warm.

The pair above, I gave Fred for Christmas and they have become his new ski socks. He claims they are warmer than any of the hot chilli's 'not-so-hot' chillis he used to wear.

Elann has some lace weight mohair on sale at a good price so I'm off to net shop some more. Aahh. The comforts of home shopping.

Will It Work?

So enamoured was I by the colours in my new spring skinny scarf,
that I decided to make an Easter outfit to match.

And proud of myself I am too, that I thought of this idea while there is still enough time to maybe accomplish the goal. My usual habit would be to absolutely not remember that Easter comes in the spring until it is definitely too late to make - and sometimes even too late to buy - a new outfit. That usually makes me the only person at the Easter table dressed in dark wool. A great look for my January birthday, but so out of touch with Easter.

Again, I approached the stash and dug out all the spring colours. Then I searched for a pattern and came up with this one.

A top-down vest from Wendy Bernard's book Custom Knits. With a few 'mods' of course. After all, my name is Brenda.

Mine will be garter stitch. That decision was arrived at after trying a few inches in stockinet only to 'know' that the delightful look of a different colour every row is not nearly as beautiful in stockinet as in garter. So my top will be garter stitch.

And, I want sleeves. So I'll add those.

And, I will leave off the ribbing at the bottom. Garter stitch all the way.

And, maybe the neckline ribbing too. Perhaps exchange it for some i-cord or a rolled edge or two. My plan is to wear a cami underneath.

So other than totally changing everything about the pattern those few changes, mine will be exactly the same.

Of course this is all a crap shoot chancy thing because
A) I have no idea if the changing-colour-every-row garter stitch look will transfer well from scarf to garment.
B) I have no idea if my top will fit. My actual gauge is a little off the 'guessed-at-gauge' I used for the original stitch count.
C) I have no idea if I have enough yarn.
D) I have no idea if I will look good in this top. After all, my figure is nowhere near as tantalizing very different from the models.

Will it work? Who knows. This might just be an exercise in process, but 'there ain't no product' knitting. Or a chance to throw out use up some stash.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Spring Break

One day last week, the sun was shining, the temperature was on the warm side and the air smelled of spring.

The spring-like day reminded me that I have a new spring coat. One that I purchased off season and on sale. I thought, 'Wouldn't that new coat look great with a scarf done in lively, spring colours?'

I gathered up some stash yarns in spring colours and using the same method as the Easy Peasy Wraps , made this little number.
Long and skinny. Self-fringing. Using about 7 colours.

Indeed, it does brighten up the coat. I can wear it long- just under the collar and around the neck.

Or, as is so fashionable this year, in the 'fold-in-half-and-through-the loop' style.

Either way, the scarf looks good. And knitting it was a great mid-February, spring-break.

Friday, February 20, 2009

It Fits - Still

Finally, this morning, I worked up nerve to try on my wool vest that Fred so cluelessly kindly laundered for me.
It fits. I wouldn't have believed it. The olive green in the vest is Patons Classic Wool. The orange, yellow and mauve are all pure wool. The black is, at least, washable wool. The light green is a cotton. With all that wool, I never would have attempted to wash it in the machine with a normal load of laundry. But it can be done. Here's proof.


Perhaps a 'tich' smaller, but not bad.

And how about Survivor? Both ladies voted off so far have gone because of personalities, not their skills/efforts or lack thereof. I have decided that if I should ever be a player on Survivor, it would be a good idea to lay low the first little while. Fly under the radar so to speak.

Hope your weekend is yarn-filled.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thursdays Are For Knit Group And Survivor

You would never know that the countryside is a wan, mid-February, one-colour wonder when you see what knit group was up to today.

Ingrid again had an outstanding piece - another coat. The colour was such pure Lilac, that we could almost smell them.

Here is the coat, just as Ingrid presented it to us.
First, without accessories. Made with Koigu as was last week's dress and coat. The top was knit side to side and as Ingrid said, therefore difficult to judge sleeve length. Once her coat was done, she realized she would have preferred longer sleeves. Her solution? Arm warmers. Totally separate from the coat, but in matching colours.
Here she demonstrates the coat with the arm warmers. And around her neck? A piece of purple faux fur she 'had' in her dresser. Oh yes, wouldn't we all have a piece like that in our dresser. Presenting the whole ensemble -
Lovely, lovely, lovely.

And the colour feast didn't' stop with Ingrid. Sharon and her daughter attended a dyeing workshop at Lettuce Knits on Family Day. She came home with two skeins dyed in colours I would describe as wonderfully, Easter-egg bright.
A Mother-Daughter, fibre-related workshop. What a great way to spend Family Day.

With yet more cheerful colours, I give you
Poetic Pat's latest stuffed animal. Bright, bright yellow.
One-legged at the moment, but she had the second leg finished before she left. And that's a glorious sweater she's wearing. One of seven she knit in that style, she told us.

Nicki is working on a Log Cabin piece using leftover sock yarn. Such colours there too.

That's a Fleece Artist Jacket she' wearing. Sorry I didn't get the entire shot.

Bonnie teased us with the colour I'd like the sky to be - a gorgeous, deep, rich blue for her size 6 cabled sweater.

And Meghan's socks - "There are two, there are two" she said - are almost ready for the 'thumb-trick heel'.

The room was full of vibrant colours and creative genius. Is it any wonder knitters are less likely to see the grey around us?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Shalom and it's 'Deets'

Shalom is finished and I love it.

Here are a couple of 'on the bed' shots. The buttons are placed, but not yet sewn.
The overall shot and

the yoke closeup shot.

Of course the proof is in the fit. So here are the modelled shots.

I hope you all noticed the 'cute' touch on the buttons. After sewing them on with regular thread, I pulled one loop of yarn through the hole and tied it at the front for the 'tied quilt' look. I'm not quite sure if I think it cute or hoky. I'll leave it for a few days and then decide.

So here are the details.
Pattern: Shalom by Meghan McFarlane. Her blog is involvingthesenses
Yarn: Vienna by Naturally

Fibre - 67% Wool, 33% Acrylic
Gauge: 20 stitches over 4 inches
Needles: 4.5mm

Mods: The pattern is written for a 32 inch garment. One size only. I wanted a 38 inch garment, so multiplied my gauge ( 5 sts/in) by 38 to get my total body stitches.

Starting at the top, I took the number of stitches given in the pattern and divided that number by pattern-gauge per inch to determine the recommended neck circumference. I then determined how many stitches that would be in my gauge and cast on that number of stitches. About 100 I think.

Overall, I had to convert the pattern to my gauge, so I used this handy dandy formula to make that change . A bit of math but everything worked out.

The yoke of Shalom, I knit by hand, the body I knit on the machine. It's a 'fusion' garment.

My Shalom has zero ease and no waist shaping. The zero ease I did because I wasn't sure I wanted negative ease on an 'over' garment. The waist shaping I didn't do, because I was lazy.

The yarn is great. It feels comfortable to wear, cozy and warm. Of course my opinion might be tempered by the fact that I purchased this yarn at a 50% discount.

I'd give this knit a high rating. Nice yarn. Great pattern. Good fit. Trendy style. I'd make it - or a version of it - again.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Laundry Woes

Readers might remember that my husband sometimes does the laundry.
As evidenced by this photo from a long-ago post when Fred thought he would brighten his 'Workers Tuxedo' with a little bleach.

Well, he was at the laundry again yesterday. We had a house full of guests over the weekend (which BTW meant no time to shop for buttons. Shalom is still without closure) and Monday, Family Day, my niece wanted to ski all day! Her parents don't ski, so Aunt Brenda and Uncle Fred are her ski buddies. But since we don't do all day! anymore, shifts were in order. I took the morning, Fred, the afternoon.

Kind, loving soul that he is, in the morning, while I skied, Fred worked his way through the mountain of sheets and towels that were added to our normal laundry. Gave me a hand so to speak. I knew immediately, when I entered grand central the mud/laundry room just inside our back door that he had done the laundry. Well, immediately is an exaggeration as it took a few seconds for the info to compute. This is how I knew.

Remember this vest?
From this post?

I had left it in the laundry room waiting for the time I might have a few wool sweaters to wash with Eucalan. My immediate thought when I came in the door, was

" What's my vest doing on the drying rack"?

Then, "Fred wouldn't have washed that, would he?"

Then, "Is that damp?"

Then, "Oooh Nooo."

The good news is he was astute enough not to put it in the dryer. The vest appears not to have shrunk too much. But one of the yarns is Patons Classic Wool. Known for it's felting properties. A bit more drying time, a few weeks to work up the courage to try it on, and then I will know.

I think the saying is " It's the thought that counts."

Monday, February 16, 2009

Math Mania

Shalom, for me, was mostly about the math. With both the age-old knitting nemesis
(nemesises??) -size and gauge - to change, I had two math problems to solve.

Size was the easiest. The pattern was written for one size only. Would that have been MY size? No, but being a student of Elizabeth Zimmermann , it was not difficult to solve that problem. Gauge times desired circumference and 'Bob's your Uncle'. Done.

Never one to limit the number of challenges present in a project, I wanted to use a yarn that was a different gauge than the yarn called for in the pattern. The pattern called for yarn that would knit to 13 stitches over 4 inches. My yarn knit to 20 stitches. That's a big difference. So in addition to recalculating the size, I had to re-write the pattern for a different yarn gauge.

Fortunately, somewhere along the line in my knitting career, I learned a little formula to change pattern gauge. Where I first came across it, I do not remember. But the number of times I have used it over the years, - and always to great success - are countless. Today, I share it with you. And believe me when I say - " Knitters, get a pen and write this down."


M over P
(Translation - M divided by P)

M stands for MY, as in My Gauge. P stands for Pattern, as in Pattern Gauge.


Things always come easier for me if I use a grade 3 example. So, without meaning to insult the many, brilliantly-mathematical knitters, let me give an example.

Suppose you purchase a pattern that calls for yarn at 20 stitches over 4 inches. BUT, your yarn that you wish to use for your project knits to a gauge of 16 stitches over 4 inches.
Using the formula, divide 16 by 20. 16 divided by 20 = 'point 8' (.8).

Point 8 is your factor. Everywhere the pattern states to do something with a particular number of stitches, multiply that number by your factor.

For example, if the patterns states, 'Cast on 100 stitches'. Multiply 100 by the factor.
100 x .8 = 80. Eighty is the number of stitches to cast on with your yarn.
If the patterns tells you to decrease to 90 stitches, multiply 90 times the factor. 90 x .8 = 72 . Using your yarn decrease to 72 stitches. At times your multiplication will lead you to a fractional number. 'Knitters' intuition' will tell you whether to round up or down.

Of course, the same thing needs to be done with row gauge.

There you have it. Tickety boo. You have just re-written your pattern.

And how do I remember, in the heat of knitting-gauge angst, that the formula is m divided by p and not the other way around? I think of 'member of parliament' -as in 'your local MP'. Of course, that only works if you come from Canada.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Confession

Sel & Poivre commented yesterday about how I managed to finish Shalom so quickly. She asked if I ever sleep? I did tell her that I am blessed with a boring husband which allows me lots of knitting time. Even though that is annoyingly very true, there is still a limit to what my fingers can accomplish.

So if you can guess what this is,

you have wrung a confession out of me. And indeed, if you can guess, you must be a machine knitter. The blue yarn you see at the bottom of Shalom is waste yarn. Several rows of waste yarn is how machine knitters keep their projects from unravelling while waiting for the next step.

Shalom is a top-down garment, and once past the interesting portion the yoke, I thought to myself - 'The fun is all behind me and all that's in front of me is boring knitting.' This is in fact the reason EZ disliked top-down knitting. Off to my languishing machine (an LK 150) I went and in no time, all parts of Shalom were complete.

Still a machine-knitting neophyte, I sometimes balk at the time it takes to get set up and started on the machine. Complaining about it one day, Patrick Madden said to me
"Keep your hand knitting beside the machine. Any time you think things are taking too long on the machine, knit a row by hand."
He was right of course. That was a good reminder. I machine knit the entire body of Shalom in under an hour once I had the machine and the 'math' ready to go.

Machine knitting, for me, will never replace hand knitting. But it occupies an invaluable spot in my repertoire. Bonnie Marie Burns of Chicknits, both a hand and machine knitter herself, calls the garments produced by this 'combo' knitting 'fusion garments'. The interesting/challenging/intriguing/motivating portion, done by hand. The boring bits, done on the machine.

In the case of Shalom, because the yoke was already done and formed a circle, I couldn't stretch the body stitches straight enough to hook the entire body onto the machine in one piece. I reverted to traditional format - two fronts and a back. That meant some sewing up after the fact, but still days faster than knitting the entire piece by hand.

Now hopefully, despite another gang of skiers arriving tonight, there will be time this weekend to find some buttons. Modelled shots and 'deets' on Monday.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Thursdays Are For Knit Group - And SURVIVOR Starts Tonight.

Today's weather was dismal. Rain, wind, dropping temperatures that made sheets of ice out of the wet roads, then snow. My biggest concern was whether I could make it to knit group.

I sent my scout Fred to test the roads on a few errands. When he returned home and reported that the roads were clear, I grabbed my knitting bag and off I went.

Who would have wanted to miss this? Look what Ingrid was wearing today.
A hand-knit coat, atop a hand-knit dress. Both made of Koigu.

Look at that hem. Quite something isn't it?

And of course, another doll from Pat. A British 'Bobby' this time. She laid it beside me and told me I better behave today.

Marlene's wonderful cro-hooked afghan is finished.
A reversible afghan is quite a work of art.

Megan is working on a sock with an afterthought heel. A La Elizabeth Zimmermann.
The red line is the waste yarn Megan will remove when ready to put in the heel.

Wilma tried on my Shalom to get an idea of fit.
Just a few ends to tie in and it's done. More pics of Shalom tomorrow.

And because it will soon be Valentines' Day, I leave you with Nell and her "Afghan For Two". Nell's husband asked for an afghan big enough for the two of them to cuddle under while watching TV. They celebrate their 58th anniversary this year. Nothing more needs be said.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Knitters' Fashion

Shalom is almost done. As I took pictures this morning, I thought it made a fashion statement of a kind that only a knitter would appreciate. 'Knitters' Fashion' it should be called.
The front. It sits very nicely around the neck and based on luck only, the bottom of the ribbing finishes at the - as EZ would say - penultimate spot on the errr, aahh, mmm, ' girls'.

The back. Lovely shaping through the yoke. Such a great design! It would make a great light-weight, cotton, summer top with short sleeves or a warmer, heavier-weight sweater with long sleeves. Very adaptable.

Look at these 'Knitters' Fashion'-making statements.
Aahh - the underarm threads. Only a knitter has them.

The front.
I ask you "Who doesn't have a stitch marker on the front of their sweater?" And "Haven't we all braved the sharp end of a needle to try on a newly-knitted garment?" Simply 'Knitters' Fashion', I say.

An emcee might say "Some unusual accessories are walking down the run-way at this
Fashion' show. Tucked into her waist, this knitter sports the remains of the still attached ball of yarn" Such a fashion statement. 'Knitters' Fashion' that is.