Sunday, January 31, 2010

Knitter School: Chevron Panels & Beyond!

I'm not quite caught up on the month's VK stitch-patterns-of-the-day, but I endeavour! I've decided to start knitting the day's pattern and then work on the back catalogue when I've got time. Here's a few of the ones I've done lately, plus a bonus chart.

First, for the 4th, "Chevron Panels". It was a little tricky at first, but by the seventh repeat I was actually able to knit the pattern without looking at the instructions (once I could tell where to knit the knits and purl the purls on the WS, it was a lot easier). I tried this one in some Nature Spun wool (colour: bamboo).

For the 5th, the pattern was "Chevron Rib" (lots of chevrons going on). This one is nice because it's effectively reversible - it's nigh impossible to tell which is the right or wrong side if you're not in the know!

And the 6th was a diagonal basketweave, which I really liked. I found the written instructions hard to follow, so after a while I did a chart for it, and it was much easier - visually - to make sense of how the pattern works. I've included another lo-fi chart (on paper, photographed instead of scanned)... chart begins on the RS with row one. Dots are purls on the RS, knits on the WS, and, as I like to do, the rest of the stitches were coloured in magenta to make for easier reading. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Knitter School: "Anemone"

The pattern for the 2nd & 3rd of January is "Anemone". While my swatch doesn't quite show off the scalloped, tentacle-y quality embodied on the calendar page, it was kind of exciting tackling something that at first seemed kind of intimidating. It requires a multiple of four stitches plus two, and it's basically four rows of garter then two rows that make up the "anemone" - k1, *k1 wrapping yarn around needle twice*, rep. to last st, k1. On the next row, you slip four stitches to the right needle, slipping off the extra wrap (it doesn't drop through the knitting, rather it makes the stitch much bigger), slip those stitches back to the left hand needle, then k4tog, and without slipping the stitches off the needle, p1, k1, p1 into those four stitches again. When all is said and done the stitch count should remain the same, but you end up with a quasi-eyelet and the wrapping effect. It's quite neat. I can't think of any practical application for it personally, but it's always nice to jump a hurdle: the fear of faffing up your knitting when you try something new, only to realise that it did, after all, work the way it was supposed to!

In other news, I've been working on another Laila scarf for the store (this one in a stony charcoal grey) and finished a version of "Miss Urchin" in cotton. Am I the only one that seems to generate mounds of fuzzies when working with cotton? It was pilling so much that I was afraid by the time I was finished there'd be no hat, only a pile of cotton fuzz. Fortunately, the hat made it through the knitting process and is ready for shipment/pick up by its new owner :)

I'm also learning some very exciting things about cables. Stay tuned for nerdy excitement!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Knitter School: Vogue Stitchionary Calendar

When the calenders went on 50%-off clearance at work, I got about three for the walls but passed over the page-a-day desk sort: I never use them as they are intended, which is to actually strip off the day past and throw it out as the week progresses. I've had the Knitting-Pattern-A-Day Calendar in the past, and while I love the idea and have made use of some patterns, this was during the dark ages when my desk was upstairs and rarely used. I'd go upstairs in October and realise my calender was still in February! So I didn't get that one this year. However, as the calendars thinned out on the shelves, I found one I hadn't noticed before: The VogueKnitting Stitch-a-Day calendar.

I don't own any Vogue Stitionaries (yet!), but - despite a lack of charting in their books - have always admired the clear layout, photos, and variety of stitch patterns they offer. I also like that they offer a Stitch of the Day on their website (link goes to their complete online stitchionary). So, with the discounted price, I bought the calendar. As I was going about my business this morning, putting the calendar up and looking through the stitches I've missed for the first 22 days of the year, I decided on a small challenge for myself. To broaden my horizons, I'm going to try knitting each day's sample pattern - to learn a new stitch, a new technique, and get out of the rut of relying on a few standard stitch patterns that are easy to memorise.

Today's stitch pattern is "Alternating Diagonals":

Since my go-to practice yarn is an acrylic (it's nice acrylic - very soft, very vibrant, but nonetheless, not wool), I had to pin it out to show the shape, but there it is. I also charted it for my own amusement (I am wont to do these things) and, lo though I tried to manipulate an image-makin' software to do my bidding, I ultimately failed... so I bring to you a digital photo of my hand-written chart. It reads right to left, and I left out the WS rows as you simply knit the knits and purl the purls. Dots on the right-side row indicate purls; I coloured in the knits with a magenta pencil to make visualisation easier for me. Enjoy the crappiness!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dear CBS: Please Don't Sue Me, I'm Just A Nerd

Ok, as screen-grabs go it's pretty low-rent, but a gal does what she can with a DVR and a digital camera. This is my favourite moment from tonight's episode of "Criminal Minds" (Season 5, Episode 13: "Risky Business"). I don't know if Ms. Kirsten Vangsness actually knits, but I couldn't ask for a cooler representative for my chosen handcraft (or the handcraft that chose me). Rock the needles, Garcia!

On a side note, I wish I could pull off that super-awesome style she has. The woman is smokin' hot!

Speaking of smokin' hot acting womens, check out my brand spankin' new Etsy listing: The Laila Scarf in red, as modeled by my stylish (actor!) friend, Anna. Isn't she gorgeous?!

Ok, the lights are flickering... stupid summer-storm in the middle of JANUARY. Night, kids.

Knitting's Harshest Mistress

I am going to have this needlepointed on a cushion one day:

"Do not ever, ever, ever try to be the boss of gauge."

Because gauge will be the boss of you. Gauge is not static. It can change with the day. There's a reason that outside of the U.S., a swatch is called a "tension square". How tense or relaxed you are at any given time is going to affect how your knitting turns out. If you are, say, trying to complete a hat in a number of hours because you really need a practice run at one of your own patterns? Yeah, that might affect gauge. I can't believe how tightly that hat turned out - with super-bulky yarn on size 13s, no less! I'm almost afraid that I won't be able to replicate the relaxed, drapey feel I achieved on the last version of said hat... but I do know one thing for sure. I will definitely swatch before I cast on.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Small Steps Toward Conquering The Dithers

Per my resolution to "Stop Dithering and Knit Something", I will refer to those inspiration-zapping periods of inactivity as "The Dithers". I almost lost my entire weekend to The Dithers, having only managed half of a mitten on Saturday afternoon and nothing else for the rest of the day. I think what helped was finally getting our respective work/study places finalised: we put Nathan's desk in the corner by the kitchen, and moved mine from the second bedroom upstairs down to in front of the livingroom window. Clearing out my workspace Saturday and leaving it in a fairly organised yet still inaccessible pile would certainly have contributed to my malaise. It's hard to want to work on a project if your materials look for all the world like a yarn-festooned Jenga game.

Finally, though, I truly have a desk of my own. It's not upstairs covered in books and piles of ill-conceived yarn purchases; it's not temporary, as it was to use Nathan's desk. We both have independent places to put our stuff - his school things, my projects/books/accoutrement - and I think that small thing alone helps me concentrate and get to work, knowing I won't have to move anything to make room for his homework, or that I can leave out my notebooks and pens and even have room for a framed picture or two.

As for rescuing my weekend, since I had all of my stuff organised once more, I could spread out my books and work - finally - on retooling the shape of the hood on the Laila scarf (see here - the listing is inactive but will still give an overview). I must have wasted a month on just the hood alone; the first time I did it, I didn't have any faith in my gauge and measurements and made the hood too long, which made it do this weird pouching thing once the scarf and hood were on. This time I made a miniature version and then used gauge and conversions to make it translate to full-size. While I'm sure I'll tweak the pattern in the future, I'm much more pleased with how this one turned out! It's cosy and comfy and, with just a little more work on the edging, will look cute on anyone :)

(The above is a picture of it laid flat. The colour in the photo almost doesn't reflect the real colour of the scarf at all - it's actually a deep ruby sort of shade.)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Is There Such Thing As Too Many WIPs?

(WIP = work in progress, for those not in the knit-acronym know)

Though I have plenty on my to-do board (see photo at left, click to embiggen), I always have to have something new going. Sometimes a project is too big for some after-work knitting (see: Rachel's cardigan) or kind of fiddly and needs more precise measuring of a subject (see: Anna's glove-mitts), so I'll pick up something new that I know won't take very long, which is the case for Mel's mittens. Mel is my boss at my daytime job, and the lady deserves some mittens! I took a couple of measurements and a hand-outline a couple of months back, but what with Christmas and everything, it was postponed, but never forgotten. So I started those tonight. The design is a basic handwarmer with thumb (no delineated fingers, just binding off loosely at the mid-finger point) and a mitten-top... I seem to be getting a bit of mileage out of the skills learned from Andy's gloves!

I'm using a very soft, easy-care acrylic for machine washing and drying. Hope to get the first one finished tonight. Here is a picture of my lap-desk workstation. (As for the LOLmagnetz, my husband got a set of LOLcat magnetic-poetry magnets for his birthday, and the container is the perfect size for some knitting accoutrement - stitch markers, tapestry needles, safety pins, etc, etc.)

Well, onward. Let's hope I don't add another project to the queue before I get something finished that is actually on it. (Having said that, I already have plans for another houndstooth-patterened hat, another cowl, and great aspirations for my Friday trip to Hobby Lobby. The knits pile up but the dreams keep flying along.) G'night!

Monday, January 11, 2010


Well, the success is kind of speculative at this point, as I have not actually had Andy try the gloves on, but... I did it! I finished the glove-mitts for my brother-in-law! I even have pictures as proof - incredibly shaky, blurry proof!

I had to re-start the second mitten-top because I forgot that, in order for the tops to work, I would have to treat them as a mirrored pair instead of being reversible like the gloves would be without a top. I actually got in about 18 rounds of knitting before I tried it on my right hand and immediately thought to myself... "Uh oh." Luckily I was having some sort of period of clarity, and picking up the stitches on the other side of the mitt was actually fairly easy, and starting over wasn't the drama I thought it might be (or made out to be in my Facebook status message... heh).

The first mitten-top - on the left glove - was really awkward and misshapen. I attempted something like an anatomical sock-toe, trying to accommodate the shape of the hand, without really thinking about the comfort-factor of a mitten. I had also tried to look for a mitten pattern online that might be helpful, but I just couldn't find what I needed. So I took a look at one of my standard beanies, where the shaping is circular but if you lay the hat down flat it will curve at the top instead of having sharp slopes. In that fashion, I did some gauge/measurement stuff, and figured out how to do a series of decreases at the top that was more like the top of a hat, and it really seems to work. You get that nice, oval, typical-mitten shape at the top (no weird angular bits!) and it still accommodates the fingers. I did take notes at this stage, but I'm also documenting here for future reference!

Hopefully the gloves will fit and the, uh, brilliance of the mitten tops will exempt me from my Christmas-gift tardiness. A gal can dream, eh?

Having crossed this one off my list... it's on to the next round. Next up: Rachel's cardigan, Anna's glove-mitts, and a commission for Etsy as soon as the yarn comes in the mail! (P.S.: I listed two new hats on the store... Fairy Floss and Hamilton. Check 'em out! :) )

Additional pics of the gloves: one with the top pulled back, one with the top on:

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Lazy Sunday

In an attempt to at least knit something this week (I have a theory that the cold has, in part, frozen both my brain and my hands, so the major projects on the to-do list have hit a standstill) I cast on 120 sts and began work on a simple ribbed cowl. Just a little bit of stuff to keep the breeze out, without the work intensity of a long scarf (like the one I knit for Nathan - I've had the opportunity to borrow it a couple of times to test its windchill-blocking abilities and I am really happy with it!). I started it with the intent of honing a particular design I've been working on for the last year or so, but right now I really can't decide if I'll just leave it as-is or continue. I know, I'm being very vague - but a gal has to at least try and protect her intellectual property before she casts it out into the world, right? ;)

So, in the meantime, with no FOs or even pics of UFOs to compensate my lack of both knitting and content, here is one of my favourite LOLcats of all time:

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

UFOs becoming FOs at Long Last!

I finally finished my husband's scarf... that I started probably around the end of 2008. I remember this because I worked on it during many theatre-viewings of *mumble*"Twilight"*mumble*. Ahem. (I can't excuse myself, really, but I think Carter Burwell's understated yet incredibly emotional score got to me.) ANYHOW. While tearing around the living room trying to find a lost ball of yarn (as ever), I found the scarf and realised I didn't have that much to do for it to be finished. I weaved in some ends - not many, as I carried the floats from the stripes on the inside of the work (the scarf was knit in the round), then sewed the ends up using blanket stitch. It's made from acrylic (except for the orange panel stripe, which was leftover Mission Falls superwash wool), but since it was knit in the round it's double-thickness. It's also quite wide. So if anything it will have an insulating effect and keep a chill wind from acheiving total domination. Trying it on myself, I can attest that it's quite squishy and cosy... if I can get around to it, with all of the projects on my ever-growing to-do list, I might consider production for the store! :)

Pictured: Nathan and Dog enjoying the cosiness.