Why this journey?

I've been retired now for over a year. Husband has been sick but is now doing quite well with new pacemaker. I continue to knit and knit and crochet. Recently I became friends again with my sewing machine so you will see some of those projects, too. Thanks for reading.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Universe is expanding.

I am honored that so many of you take the time to tell me you are 'following' me.  Your comments come to me via the blog, from Twitter, from Facebook, from email.  Your comments come as gifts when I see you at the grocery, at church, at Crossfit, at the library.

I am humbled by your attention and grateful that now and then you take a minute or two to enter my knitting world and then take another minute to share a word or two.

The free stats from blogspot tell me you are from Australia, the UK, all over the US and some from other lands distant from my home in Lakewood.  This blogging thang has expanded my universe exponentially.

Readers are the reason.  I thank you.

The scarf is heading east later this week to a friend whose photography and video work inspire me.

Great texture and nice dense fabric.  Very warm.
Rowan Wool
It's the Purl Bee Rick Rack Scarf.  Read the designer's requirements for a scarf and you'll see why this wonderfully simple idea meets all the stated expectations.  Purl Bee Rick Rack Scarf.

Thanks again for knocking at my door, for sharing my interest in knitting, and for giving back in comments.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

All this time

Knitter's Regrets

  • All this time, since last January, the blue yarn and partially completed sweater have lain idle in a knitting bag.  
  • All this time I have kept the bag near a chair in the living room where I can see it when I knit (and where I have to pick it up if/when I decide to vacuum.)  
  • All this time, it's only needed a bit of finishing on the yoke and one sleeve to be completed.  
  • All this time I could have been wearing this lovely blue item.
  • Couldn't stand it any longer.  
  • Couldn't really justify -- even to my knitting self -- that I could plan a new project and purchase new yarn.
  • Couldn't any longer imagine a partially completed sweater when I wanted to wear this sweater.

Finishing it this weekend.  It's lovely.
Body of the sweater is the blue of the I-cord trim
around the neck.  The plan is to replace the shawl pin
with three special buttons.
Yarn:  Cascade 220 paints.
The yarn was purchased at Yorkshire Yarns in Lakewood (solid blue) and at Yellow House Yarns in Puyallup (Paints).  The pattern is from New England Knits and it's the one shown on the cover, though with modifications -- of course.

Two things moved me to make changes --
  1. I wasn't sure I'd have enough of the solid blue and decided an entire sweater of that color just might be a bit too startling to the eyes.
  2. I was absolutely sure I did not like the hem at the hip-line of the original sweater pattern.  Don't mind where it was intended to land, just prefer the flexible fitting of ribbing.
  3. Also did not like the position of the buttons, right over the shoulder, so I moved the placket to left front over the ribbing.  Seems more cohesive to me, design-wise.   I'm knitting it for me, not for them.  (That's my sassy voice!)
So the yoke became the variegated yarn.  The ribbing at the base became variegated.  And just to accent the sleeves I added a few rows of purl in the variegated, so the stitch and the color would connect to the yoke.

Used a different setting on the camera.  This is closer to the
actual color.  You can see the yoke with the shawl pin in
the upper left.  Then the ribbing of the sleeve with the
accent of variegated purl stitches.
The markets indicate every 10 rows (dark purple)
and decreases (orange.)
The pattern is knit from the top down, which means the only finishing is the weaving in of yarn ends.  There's no underarm seam, no side seam.  Yoke begins at the knit row right below the ribbing; yoke ribbing is picked up and knit after the body is knit.  Short rows raise the back neck a bit.  

The attached I-cord is my idea.  I wanted something to seal off all the colors and look good around the neck.  Not sure a simple bind-off would do; can be sloppy sometimes, IMO.

The sleeves are knit from the yoke down, either on DPN's or on a long circular using Magic Loop.  This time the Magic Loop method is working for me.  After the length is established and a few decrease cycles, I'll add 4 rows of purl in the variegated.  Then a switch to a smaller needle, US7, and finish off the ribbing.

Yarn, needles, sleeve stitches -- add Knitter, stir gently while
listening to a good book and . . .

Meanwhile, I'll be spending a bit of time to finalize the notebook to send to TKGA.  Really ready for that project to be in the mail.  It counts as a massive UFO, with not enough knitting to compensate for the other work that has to be done.  Groan.

The sun has gone the way the sun does in the Pacific Northwest (west side.)  Gray clouds have returned.  Good day for knitting (and working on the notebook.)

PS  I added a new tag/label -- SWEATER! Hurrah!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sunshine and Glubs

Finished!  One Glove!  Oh, and it's wonderful.  Plus I had such a good time working on it.
The sun shining on the left side.  Wonderful to see.
On to Glub2.  I know.  I said I was gonna switch back and forth as I completed each finger.  Well, I just got in a groove and kept going til this one was finished.

On the not-so-good-news side -- they may be a bit big.  I chose the large size, because I have large hands and unless I buy men's gloves can't find them to fit.  The cheap stretchy $1.00 gloves work until my fingers poke thru.  So I knit the large size.  Now I have gloves that fit and I don't think I know what that's supposed to feel like!

I will have some yarn left over when the other glove is complete.  Thinking I'll buy something to coordinate with this pink stripe and make some sox.  Maybe with a solid heel and a stripe across the instep plus a few stripes on the band.  Ideas and thoughts so far.

Back to the other glub.  These are great fun so I'm already looking at other patterns.

One more picture to show how the self-striping yarn worked out.  See the orange finger tips on three of the fingers and almost on the thumb?  Kewel, I think.

Point yourself toward some light and go there.  Tis a peaceful place to be.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Okay, so I couldn't resist . . .

I know what you're thinking.  I do.  You're thinking I broke down and bot yarn.  Nope.

A big YES to your other question.  Did she start YAP (Yet Another Project?)  Yup.   I did find another shawl pattern to begin.  This one is a square, intended to be folded in half when worn over the shoulders.

It starts with a circle loop cast on of only 8 stitches.  After a first purl row, you can pull on the loose end of the loop and tighten everything so it's neat and tidy.

Early days in this picture.
The 5th needle points to the center of the work,which
is the place the adventure began.  The purple marker is to
identify the beginning of the round.
This is a pattern from Knitted Lace, from Interweave Press.  I borrowed the book from the library to see if it's worth the purchase of a used copy.  Lots of great patterns for sweaters, scarves, and shawls, plus several sock patterns.  Still studying the idea of purchase.

The pattern is in a chart form and so far, has been easy to decipher.  The overall look will be eyelets, each with four little holes stacked in a diamond shape.  Then a row of just eyelets and then a border.  The 'rest rows' are purl instead of knit, making the body of the knitted fabric a garter stitch, as in knit every row (if you were going back and forth.)  At least there is a rest row every other round.  Then there is an all-knit rest row as the divider between each set of diamond eyelets.  Not tooooo bad.  Stay tuned.
Body pattern in upper left corner.
 The bigger chart is for the border.

I've transferred the stitches onto a long circular needle US5, and hope to be able to manage Magic Loop method until the shawl is larger in its perimeter.  At that point I will be able to knit in the round with ease.  This may make the border easier to manage.

Here I've pulled the tips of the circular needle out of the
fabric area so I can spread out the shawl pattern to
show off the eyelets.  Look in the segment on the southeast
of the circle and you'll see two diamond eyelets; the third in that
section is bunched up, but it's there.

Going back to the glubs, to cast on the ring finger.  My plan is to do the ring finger on each glove, then the middle finger, etc.  In this way, neither glove will feel neglected and when I finish the second thumb I'll be done, as in done-done.

Making great progress on the cream shawl.  It's my new knit to relax project -- easy to follow, easy to see, only a 3 row pattern.

Bags and baskets of knitting projects, some too neglected to be mentioned and others so new they beckon me whenever a few minutes present themselves demanding busy-ness.  Just one of the many great things about knitting -- pay attention or not, the big Whatever!

As a matter of life philosophy I don't subscribe to the big Whatever!  Instead I think life is more satisfying when
  • You do what you're supposed to do,
  • In the manner it's supposed to be done, 
  • At the time it's intended to be accomplished.

Think about it -- works for filling the tank as the gauge approaches the "E" and works for the big things in life like caring for others.

I'm off to do other things now -- using my 3 point philosophy listed above.  Hoping your day is the best.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Experts and Experiments

A good friend, whose father worked many years as a NASA scientist, shared with me her father's favorite scientist expression:  One experiment is worth a thousand expert opinions.

The goal of this experiment is to discover the combination of needle, yarn, and pattern that will result in a comfy and warm shawl for a friend who is going thru some tough challenges at work.  Here's where things settled out but only after an experiment that went awry.
Chunky yarn from Patons.  "Big ole needles" (size US 11) and
an easy pattern which is a variation of Feather and Fan.

The story begins a few chapters previous --

With the NASA aphorism as a guiding mantra, I pick up needles and yarn that speak softly to me, saying, "Yes, we will work in that pattern."  These speaking supplies are sometimes simply expert opinions.  The tale will only be told when I put yarn to needle.

In this case the 'experts' were wrong.  The mosaic knitting just didn't work.  Yarn was too bulky.  Maybe I had the wrong needle size.

See?  It's just not right, though I loved the Mosaic Knitting and had fun trading out colors to make my own series of repeats.  But it lacks serenity and finesse.  Just not right for an item intended to comfort.

Same chunky yarn in cream with forest green.  Same "big ole
needles" and an easy Mosaic Knitting pattern.  But it's just
not right.

So I unknitted both the cream and the green and knitted the lacier version using cream yarn only.  I was able to knit as I unraveled, rolling up the green and using the cream for the new pattern choice. 

It works!  And it's comforting for me to knit.  Remember, I'm a process knitter.  I want to enjoy the process, the making of each stitch.  I want to see the result unfurl as I knit each stitch.  But as much as I love the process, I do want the item itself to be as satisfying as the knitting I put into it.

The lace shows best here.  Those simple, but elegant yarn-
overs to add stitches;  then those handy K2tog to take away the
ones you just added (in the count, not in the fabric.)
It's a both-sides-look-good pattern so there's no right or  wrong side.  This makes it a good pattern for a shawl.  It's a 3 row pattern and easy to keep track of.

After the complex cotton shawl and the tiny stitches on the glubs, I can use a break.  Big needles, chunky yarn, speedy progress.  Reckon there's not an analogy to life here, except the importance of recognizing how we all need a break after complexity and chaos -- just like we need a break, with sun, after a week of snow, freezing rain, slippery roads, power outages, and food spoilages.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

This little finger went to market --

Two cuffs, two hand portions, two little fingers, and two thumb gussets.  That's the status of the Glubs.

White and beautiful
We've had awful weather.  After a thrilling 12-14" of pure white snow, we finished the week with crippling freezing rain and power outages.

Frozen and treacherous, with trees and wires damaged.

Meanwhile the Glubs are progressing nicely.  Quite fun.  They look downright silly, though, at this point.  Just a little finger on each and waiting for the other 8 to emerge (6 fingers and 2 thumbs, depending on how you label the flexible digits.)

Oh dear, but this picture doesn't show the other little finger.
All the other things are there -- needles, fix-it tool, and
handy row counter.
Yes, two glubs.

Here's the silliest pic of all -- two little fingers waving at one another across the empty landscape of a waiting hand.
Isn't there some sporting team who uses this sign language?

Also working on some Mosaic knitting and finishing up the frilly ruffle thing they call knitting.  That scarf may just be long enough already -- I wouldn't want the wearer to trip over it or have to wrap it 47 times to get it off the floor.   I've experienced just about enuf of that loopy process -- pun intended.  Picture in next post.

Can you tell I am not enamored of this latest fad?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

MAMA -- Mine And Mine Alone

Glubs for me!  Wonderful yarn -- such fun to knit, to see how the colors will settle.  I've finished the cuff, the thumb gusset and am working my way up the little finger.

Thumb gusset on the right, under the curve of the pin.
Little finger on the needles.
These are really fun and I recommend glubs to all knitters, even beginners.  They have some challenging aspects but all-in-all are fun to knit.  You can get intro or practice on these techniques, if you knit glubs

  • Using double pointed needles and knitting in the round.
  • Adding stitches for thumb gusset using the M1 technique.
  • Holding stitches until later.
  • Adding stitches by backward loop method.
  • Weaving in lots of ends, since you will be joining yarn when it's time to knit the thumb.

Here's a close-up of the cuff.  It's a smocking stitch, where the wrap is formed by knitting between, in this case, the 6th and 7th stitches from the end of the left needle.   This makes a very long stitch which you put back onto the left needle and knit along with what was the first stitch on that needle.  Quite fun and isn't it a great look?

At first I was worried that the colorful and varied yarn would keep the smocking from standing out, but I think it works so I decided to stick with it to the end.  I have a dark fuchsia wool coat for winter and the gloves will be a great accessory.  

Freezing rain here, after a horrible and unusually fierce snow storm.  Here in the Pacific NW on the west side of the state we tend not to get so much snow, especially at lower elevations.  But this one has us all at sixes and sevens.  The snow has ended and now the freezing rain begins to cement the slush and trenches formed by brave cars yesterday.  

I'll be knitting.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My own worst enemy

Don't we all make choices that just drive us crazy?  How did I get myself into this one?

You know those frilly ruffly scarves?  The ones that look like they took hours to knit?  Well, I'm probably the last person to try this 'yarn.'  Ran across it yesterday while chatting with a fellow shopper at a local craft store.  She was going to try it, was actually wearing an example.  It was lovely.  So with my coupon I plunged.

Not really 'yarn' but more of a mesh ribbon.

It's called Sashay, from Red Heart.  I urge you to check out the video for 'knitting' with Sashay, because I think the instructions on the back of the label are right next to useless in the list of how-to's.  The pattern on the label is also available at the Red Heart site.  It's shown as the Smokey Swirls Scarf, but I'm using the color Jive, which is shades of teal.  Great color.

Watching the video (also on YouTube) was essential for me to 'get it.'  I wouldn't really call this 'knitting.'  Instead the needles are the handy tool that allow you to interlace the folds of the scarf.  The mesh folds back and forth along itself along 6 or 10 stitches.

Of course, I'm trying to be much tooooo precise with an item that is intended to be frivolous and independent.  The writers should never have used terms like "every other loop" because I spend all my time searching for the "every other loop" when I could just as easily grab any of the next loops and the ruffle would still ruffle.

Nouns that become verbs: ruffle and friend.  

Monday, January 16, 2012

Promises -- the white shawl is done.

Yup, it's on the blocking board.  The white shawl has had every last stitch knitted and every last edge stitch crocheted into a ruffle.

<<<<<   Before blocking

And on the blocking board --
I blocked in sections.  First I dampened and pinned
the center piece.  Using that as a guide, I folded over
the left section, dampened and pinned.  Finally,
the last section.  The ruffle is in the lower left corner.

I broke another 'rule' but that won't surprise any of you.  I blocked before I wove in the pesky ends.  I just couldn't think of doing anything else with that shawl on my lap. 

Now here's my big 'what if' -- the fiber is mostly cotton, so I'm not sure how much of the shape will be 'set' after it dries.  But it is what it is.  Or rather, it will be what it will be.  It's a que sera sera thing, I reckon.

Meanwhile, I've started a pair of gloves for myself, if you can believe it.  The pattern is from Textured Stitches by Connie Chang Chinchio, published by Interweave Press.  I bot the e-book and have it on my iPad.  The gloves are called Giorielli Gloves; I'm using Regia 4 fadig color (Flusi), with an umlaut on the 'a' in 'fading.'  (I will have to discover the keystrokes for special characters, huh?)

More later but here's a quick peek.
Size US 3 sticks, Lantern Moon from Vietnam -- elegant and
smooth needles.  Yarn is intended to strip or pool but it hasn't
yet made up its mind.  Cuffs use a smocking stitch.
Note the long yellow orange threads across the pink
stitches in the bottom center of the picture.
We have a bit of snow here and more is coming down pretty hard in those flakes as big as small saucers.  Here in the Pacific NW we get all crazy about our snow.  We cheer and make snow angels using the 1/2" that covers our grass.  We worry about school closing and baby-sitting arrangements.  We hope for it and then we hate it.  Supposed to get 5-6" which is like 14 feet for us!

I'll be knitting and working on the notebook.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Train

I think I have discovered the mythical tunnel with the light at the end.  Yes, it's a train.

Yet another mistake on the white shawl.  Just about finished with the final pattern and ready to bind off.  I wanted to show myself that I could do just one more row.  And wouldn't you know, about half way into this final row (not counting the purl row to get back to the beginning), I discover a mistake.

Yikes.  The light IS a train and it's heading straight for me.  Several choices at this point -- too boring to describe and too traumatic to re-live -- so I decide to repeat the solution from the earlier mistake.  I decide to rip back by removing the stitches from the needle.

It's encouraging to realize I have actually learned
from my mistakes.  This time I use, not a needle and fine
crochet thread, but Hark, Batman, another needle.
It's a tiny one, a US2, and you can see it peeking out
just to the left of the (seemingly) large teal tip of the
circular needle.

So now all the stitches I want to rip back are sitting securely on the tiny US2 and all I have to do is
  1. Gently pull the yarn out and then
  2. Replace the stitches onto the larger needle.
Here's what it looks like when all the stitches are on the tiny needle and I'm ready to replace them to the larger needle.
Left to right:  Tip of larger needle US9 which I have removed
from the cord.  Next is the cord with a purple cap to prevent
the stitches from escaping.  The skinny gray needle is lying
across the other end of the circular needle.
I am ready to crochet now.  Instead of closing off the knitting by a usual method which makes a firm and finished edge, capturing all stitches one within the next, I will be crocheting some fringe as I seal off the stitches of the shawl.

Left to right again:  Knitting stitches on teal US9.  Then the
size H crochet hook inserted into a stitch, ready to chain
the fringe.  Above and to the right is the beginning
of the fringe.

The next time you hear from me this shawl will be completed and on the floor for blocking.  It's huge and I will need every bit of empty floor space available.  I'm thinking of folding into its respective thirds (remember it's 3 0f 6 sections, or half, of a hexagon) and blocking them one on top of the other.  Unorthodox, for sure.
Lacey fringe to match the delicacy of the shawl.

If I'm not able to make a go of it to the end, you'll find me riding on a train.  A kind soul will have wrapped my shoulders and head with a partially completed white shawl.  And you'll notice -- fashion folks that you are -- that the white shawl matches the long armed jacket I'm wearing.  Another kind soul will have tied the longs arms of my jacket around to the back.  There will be a light at the end but I might not see it thru the mesh of the shawl.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Thuh Notebook

Thuh Notebook is my entry into the TKGA knitting designation process.  As for scoring, who knows.  There is no baseline and who knows what work will equate to a pass or fail outcome.  I will have to wait and see.  But first I have to assemble all the items in just the proper fashion, as dictated by the you-won't-believe-how-precise-they-are instructions.

  • All the swatches are complete and have been blocked.
  • I've got the 2" notebook.
  • Each swatch has an accompanying page with specified information included.
  • Each swatch has a tag labeling it as mine and identifying the technique worked in the swatch.
  • Swatch and info sheet go together into a plastic page protector.

I created business cards with my demographic data on the front side,
including the URL for my blog.
The back side of the cards identifies the technique
worked in the swatch.  Swatches are numbered according to
TKGA instructions.

After blocking, the swatches look so much nicer.  Here's just one of them, inserted into plastic page protector along with info sheet.  
This is Swatch 1, with tag in upper left corner of knitting.
Swatch, tag, and info sheet into page protector.
Then into Thuh Notebook.
All the info sheets are done, just waiting for the last of the swatches to dry on the blocking board.

Info sheets for each swatch, plus one for the hat.
I'm beginning to see the final package forming itself into a nice presentation to TKGA.  If you've ever done a science project, a research or theme paper, or even a book review, Thuh Notebook process would be quite familiar.  Lots and lots of details and lots of places where you can miss a typo, or forget a bibliography cite, or confuse a page with its swatch.

When I started this journey I heard about a woman who did the entire thing in three weeks!  Whew!  I think I would not have enjoyed such a speedy trip.  I'm also fairly certain that my final product would have suffered in the quality area, either in knitting or in Thuh Notebook.

Remember those mistakes in reading the instructions -- the every other right side row instead of every right side row?  Careful re-reading and study got me back on track.  I'm applying that same principle -- careful reading and re-reading -- to create Thuh Notebook as a stellar example of exceptional work.

Meanwhile, the Strolling Mitts are done.  Just need a bit of steam to even things out and give them that finished look.  
I think they look like saguaro cacti.  Just need to
see Spike from Peanuts sitting in the shade.
 Thuh Notebook will be in the mail by the end of next week.  Then we wait . . .

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Strolling toward the end

The Strolling Mitts are working up quite nicely.  The right hand is ready for thumb knitting.  The left hand is in the process of shaping the thumb, which means that putting those 15 left thumb stitches on a holder is very close at hand.
Right hand mitt is waiting to have thumb completed, while
left hand mitt is in the middle of thumb shaping.
Scarf and mitts are nice together, I think, especially
with kitty pin as a blending accessory.

I checked my DPN's that say US 6 on the label.  Danger, Batman, Danger!  The millimeter measure is quite different and I was almost had by the manufacturer.  The standard correlating millimeter measure for US 6 is 4 mm.  But check out this label -- it says 4.25 mm.
Maybe you don't think such a tiny difference would
make a difference -- but it does.  All of the Clover
needles I own that say No. 6 are, in fact, 4.25 mm.

Luckily I located my other set of US 6 DPN's, which are labeled as 4.00 mm.  If you are not a knitter, by this time you're thinking:  Do these hand knitters really have to worry about so many details?  That would drive me bananas!  Yup, it might drive you bananas and yes, it now and then drives the knitter over the edge.  Very glad I caught this difference.

I will use the 4.00mm US 6 DPN's for the thumb knitting where I have only 15 stitches.  Three stitches for each of three needles and a fourth needle for knitting.  Picture will appear in a later post.

Meanwhile, the stroller mitts are serving as a wonderful and satisfying diversion from Thuh White Shawl.  Notice the title has now become official and I've added initial capitals to seal the deal.  It's quite a mission, this shawl.  I have 2 balls of yarn remaining, each with 218 yards.  I have a goal to knit until I use up one of the two balls of yarn, reserving the last one for the crocheted fringe.

The back length of the shawl in this picture is 24", from the
top point to the bottom of the holes / stripe pattern.  The
instructions call for 36" but I am sure that if I were to knit
to 36" you would have to call someone to take me away
as I babble about yarn overs and purls.
Here's a closeup of the pattern and you gotta admit it's gorgeous.
Thuh last pattern in Thuh White Shawl

But back to the mitts -- looking good and soon to be completed.  I'm loving these detour projects, after 2 hours and 4 rows of the white shawl.  groan
Close -- very close.
Detours and staying the course.  Both of them help us to make progress in knitting and in life.  Lessons learned in each case.  Detours are sometimes risky but usually give us quicker rewards, as in sooner completed.  Staying the course teaches perseverance and commitment, with a thing of beauty as a final reward, plus the confidence to tackle something else equally (or more) complex.

Choose your path.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Detour -- another set of mitts

Addey left a comment that pointed out how fun it is to take a detour into a small, quick project -- while working on a larger one.  I call this a detour and remember, not all detours are a waste of time and fuel.

I'm forever searching for new patterns.  Often they come to me in emails from the various sites I follow.  This pattern came from Red Heart, though the original site for the pattern is not Red Heart.  I'll leave lots of breadcrumbs so you can find it if you like.

Strolling Mitts are from Stitch Nation but I got them via an email from Red Heart.  Check out Stitch Nation cuz they have knitting and crochet patterns; many are free.

Does that hot pink yarn look familiar?  It's the same yarn
as the Hat for TKGA submission.  In the upper left of the pic
you can see the thumb section.  I'v added stitches and then
put the loose stitches onto a piece of darker yarn, so I can
finish the body of the mitt.

Mistake -- again I tried to do both mitts at the same time, using Magic Loop technique.  The mistake this time was that I was trying to use just one ball of yarn.  So for one mitt I was pulling the yarn from the middle of the ball and for the other mitt I was unwrapping yarn from the outside of the ball.  Major tangles, twists, annoyance, etc.  Tooooo much time spent on untangling and untwisting. 

So after a few rows one of the mitts was side-lined to a couple of DPN's.  The second mitt stayed on the long cord US 6 circular needle, which I am using for the Magic Loop method.  I do like the method, just that it seems to work with less chaos if I knit only one thing at a time.

The Mitts are knit around, so there's no seam.  My choices are a) DPN with about 13 stitches on each of 3 needles OR b) the Magic Loop method with 20 stitches as the front 'side' and 20 as the back 'side'.  For me, at least, 20 stitches allows for a bit of 'regular knitting rhythm.'

Here's the one mitt on the long cord and the other mitt being held by the two DPNs.
That's about as far as I got before I had to choose to reduce
the chaos.  On the left you can see the lovely wooden tips
of the long circular needle.   I'm ready to begin the pattern
'side' of the mitt.  The palm side is just plain stockinette.

Addey's right.  I've taken a break from the white shawl.  While lovely and with promise of great beauty, the white shawl work can be both tedious and boring.  Each row is so time-consuming.  Sometimes I just cannot face another row of that and then a row back to begin again.  So I decided to do these mitts.

Hoping your detour choices offer both relaxation and inspiration.  At the very least, a detour gives you a break from whatever routine your knitting -- or your life -- may have created to mire you down.  Lighten the journey with a trip to a new project.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Cross this one off the list -- the cowl

Finished the cowl (well, need to sew the seam, but . . .)

It's soft and I love the colors.  The ribbing pattern makes a cushy and pliant fabric, nothing tight and firm like ribbing at the bottom of a sweater.

Wound around a special piece of pottery we bot
at the Mud Brick Farm in New Zealand.
Yes, I would use the yarn again.  That's always a good test.  I noticed that Smiley's has it on sale, if you're interested.  The color in the cowl shown is also called Mosaic.  (But remember that Smiley's wants a $50 USD minimum purchase which can sometimes mean a big 'ouch' unless you can find friends to share the bargains.)

Back to the white shawl, which is really moving along.  I'm finishing both the shawl and the first Robicheaux story by James Lee Burke, by audio book.  The reader is remarkable.

A final pic showing the colors and the nice ribbing stitch.  This requires a K1B (knit 1 below) which means you put the right hand needle into the stitch below the one you think you should knit.  This is what makes the ribbing so pliant.  In some examples, the same result is created by using yarn-overs and then knitting them with the regular stitch on the way back.
. . . and it's washable.

Oh, that book arrived about the Brioche Stitch.  It's complete and thorough.  It covers the intro stitch for beginners and the complex ones to use after greater mastery has been achieved.  I'm studying.

Sunny here, blue skies, quite lovely.  I was able to take pictures outside so I'll put in just one of those.

Wind chime pottery by artist Mimi Wilce, KY

Friday, January 6, 2012

Oooo -- but it's very pretty

Quick update to show the pattern taking shape on the white shawl.  It's been a long and arduous road to get to this point.  Still a relatively long journey ahead to make this shawl the large and elegant wrap-around it's designed to be, but I'm finally peeking at the end.

Now that the strips of lacey holes are well-defined,
you can see that the transition row of eyelets-flowers-
eyelets forms a demarkation pattern.

Back to knitting -- each right side row with add-and-take-away stitches takes at least one half hour.  Ouch.  This one may not be finished when I planned.  Either I accept a later finishing date OR I knit for more hours each day OR I knit faster (and risk mistakes.)

Life is full of choices and so is knitting.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Blocking / shaping / finishing

My most recent history with the white lace shawl tempted me to title this one "Blockhead!"  After all, I broke most of the principles of knitting (not counting, wrong needle, etc.) and then moved blithely along under my own smug steam, believing I was working all stitches and patterns correctly.  Blockhead!

Blocking is the correct term for the next step in the Swatch process.  I have to prepare each swatch to be seen and/or used (as if each were a piece of a garment, to be sewn into a sweater, or vest, or armor.)  Words like 'shaping' and 'finishing' are also used, so if you're searching for help in somebody's book, look for any of the three words.

The idea is to shape the piece, adjust the stitches, even things out, smooth the surface without pressing it flat, and in all ways you can imagine make the swatch suitable for a viewing by the Royal Family of TKGA -- aka the knitting judges.

I've blocked 6 of the swatches, using a spray bottle of cool water, some pins, and several of the interlocking blocking shapes.
Each of these 6 swatches has been sprayed and pinned
down, then picked over to fix wayward stitches.

The Level I Master Knitter Designation requires a term paper about blocking, complete with bibliography.  I've blocked a few sweaters and scarves over the years, but -- away, ye smugness, away!  So I sat down with a pile of books and read and made notes.  On paper and in my mind I was organizing the paper I will finalize.  Right now it's in outline form, with a few special cautionary notes to include.  Lots of study, and more than you really wanted to know about blocking.
In addition to the books in this picture, I read several
articles from past issues of the TKGA member magazine,
Cast On.
Then I gathered the supplies I would need.
The spray bottle looks like it's upside down; it's not.
It's lying on the blocking board amidst the tape
measure, pins, and omnipresent stickies.

Here's the before view -- the swatch is curled at the edges and sloppy looking.  Not good for much of anything.  Some knitters avoid the blocking step because it's time-consuming and can be tiresome.  But ignore at your peril, my knitting friends.  Without blocking your work, you will very likely be disappointed in the final item / garment.  End of lecture (besides, each of the books has the same lecture.)

This is the backside.  This view is the most dramatic presentation
of the curling edges.  Also note, I have not yet woven in
those pesky tails -- each of which must disappear into
the fabric prior to blocking.  Groan.
And when it's on the board, it looks wonderful.
This is Swatch 1 (not the one in the picture showing the curling
edges) as it appears on the blocking board. The edges are anchored
with pins, carefully so as not to make scalloped edges.

I've fussed with each swatch.  I've pushed and adjusted individual stitches.  I've used the tapestry need to loosen the too-tight and tighten the too-loose.  I've been as particular as my patience and afternoon mood would allow, thinking all the time that "they are gonna be looking at this thing stitch by bloody stitch so it had better be the best I can make it."

And now it's time for a confession (as if this self-absorbed blog hasn't already alluded to a few mistakes and some sassy attitude):  I really am enjoying this challenge.  I am enjoying working on my knitting with intention, with the idea that I will learn something, and with a sense of purpose that, no matter the designation, will surely result in much improved knitting.

Now how's that for a life lesson, ladies and gents.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Moving along -- shawl, cowl, and scarf

Good news on several fronts, tho the weather is quite unsettled, wet, and gray.  Good weather for knitting.

The white shawl is growing.  I've up-sized the needle to the final size, a US 9.  I've confirmed that the pattern stitches are building upon one another in the correct fashion.  Pattern is from Victorian Lace by Jane Sowerby.

The cowl using Bernat Mosaic is almost complete.  The long side needs to be 28"; it's now 26.5".  After I reach the required length for the 'long side' I'll reduce the finishing end to a triangle, similar to the one that began the cowl.

The Rick Rack scarf from Purl Bee is just wonderful.  Despite the somewhat intricate nature of the stitches on both right and wrong sides, it is possible to develop some rhythm.  Rhythm makes the knitting satisfying and relaxing, IMHO.

Here are the update pix.
The handy fix-it tool is lying across the first row of the
challenging pattern.  The black cord, thru the stitches,
now has a US 9 on each end.  No more up-sizing....
. . . just lots of knitting (and keeping the pattern on track.)

Wonderful colors in this yarn from Bernat.  The little pink
pin tells me this is the right side (helps for keeping the
pattern on track.)  The book is a favorite:
Knitter's Handbook.  It's concise and quite portable.
Running between the book and the cowl is a tape measure.
It reads 26.5" as you will see in next picture.

The gray point is the beginning 3 stitches where the
cowl began.  I've measured the long side and it's at 26.5"

And finally, that wonderful Rick Rack scarf.  The yarn is Rowan wool and the needles are 6.00mm, Aeros.

The first time I showed this one it was a wider scarf.
I decided I didn't like it quite so wide so using Whit's
directions for the "multiple plus" number of stitches,
I reduced the size by casting on fewer stitches.

Each project offers something wonderful for a knitter.  

  • The white lace shawl is good for total concentration, blocking out everything while I focus on the 6-stitch repeat with its add and take-away stitches.
  • The cowl is an easy and relaxing 2-row pattern.  The yarn and needle size combo make for fast progress.  I can work on this while I watch football or listen to a book.
  • The Rick Rack scarf is so portable because of the size.  The pattern is only 2 rows, repeated over and over. The yarn is wool so it's wonderful to work with.  I can see progress, though not as quickly as with the cowl.

Knitting projects and their relative demands are selected so as to match both my mood and my place on the concentration spectrum.  Today I've worked mostly on the lace shawl, needing to get the pattern established as well as seeing progress when I shift to the final up-sized needle.

Today has been a heavy concentration knitting day.  Leftovers for dinner -- they take no concentration.  And meanwhile, I've left laundry in the washer.  Get it?  Some knitting concentration takes the knitter totally into a quiet world with only a lovely lace shawl sharing space with the knitter.