Sunday, April 29, 2007

Are those empty needles? How did that happen? Now I am literally down to two projects (one of which we do not speak of because it was cast on well over a year ago and I don't want it to get any hope of seeing the light of day anytime soon). I did, however, just take a drop spindle class yesterday at the LYS. I enjoyed it immensely, purchased my own spindle and have embarked on a new fiber arts trail. I wanted to try drop spindling because it's more portable than a wheel and a significantly smaller investment. I bought my spindle for $16 ($5 was taken off because I was in a class) and now I can see if this spinning thing is really for me. Now onto the good stuff:

The traditional pre and during blocking pictures of:

Pattern: Icarus Shawl by Miriam Felton
Source: Interweave Knits Summer 2006
Yarn: Jagger Spun Zephyr 50/50 Silk/Wool, Daffodil. I used just over 1.5 balls
Needles: Size 3 Addi Turbos
Alterations: I followed the pattern pretty much exactly. I don't know the finished dimensions because I didn't measure. It is around 6 feet across the top, and probably about 3 top to point.

This yarn is delightful to work with, the silk gives it an interesting texture that I enjoyed immensely. The pattern is pretty easy and I would recommend it to anyone. You start at the center of the top (if you notice my pre-blocked picture is more of a parallelogram its because of where you start), then you do all the boring stuff then as you finish in a blaze of glory you get to do all the exciting stuff. Basically you get miles of practice that all makes good sense before you have to do anything tricky.

This was made for my mother to wear to my brother's wedding in June. She was worried I wasn't going to finish on time. I wasn't. I was worried when my mother had a pattern all picked out that was going to use 16 balls of Jamieson cobweb weight, but then she changed her mind.

I don't know if you can tell in picture, but I strung a cotton string across the top before I washed it, stretched the string out and secured it with pins. Then I pinned the point and equal points in between and sort of worked my way around. Using the string meant I got a straighter line at the top and I did't have to use so many pins. I blocked it right on the carpet in my bedroom, after I vacuumed. That worked great, and I really don't think it does any real damage to the carpet, but I could be wrong.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


The latest installment of the Rockin Sock Club came today! Woot! I was worried that I was going to have to wait all weekend when everyone else already had theirs, but luck was on my side and I didn't. I love it. Love it.
No pictures or anything because I can't be bothered and it is dark out but the colors are gorgeous. I kind of want to buy another hank so I can knit one and admire one, but alas my budget says otherwise.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Done and Done

Pattern: Mystic Kelp by Cass White
Yarn: BMFA STR Mediumweight in Lunasea
Needles: Size 1, two circs
Finished: 4.24.07
Notes: medium size, no significant changes to pattern. Quite possibly my best gusset stitches ever. This was achieved through a pure fluke and while I managed to repeat it on the second sock I don't really know why it turned out so well. I usually pick up the whole slipped stitch along the heel flap and knit through the back loop. This time I picked up only the outside loop, picked up all the stitches before knitting them and knit them so they were twisted. The strange thing is that both sides match exactly, and I've never had that before. Usually one side is clearly going the opposite way of the other.
I also did all my SSKs in the new fancy (read: tried and true for many folks) way I learned at camp. I slip the first stitch as to knit and the second as to purl and carried on as normal. Now my SSKs match my k2togs much better and don't look nearly so wonky. You can admire them in the picture above along with my gusset.
Like I said before this is not yarn that I would have chosen if it weren't for peer pressure, but I'm pleased with the outcome. I like the striping/pooling thing I've got going and the delightful squishy-ness of the fabric in the snakes and ladders (or mystic kelp) pattern.


If was a(n?) historian and I was going to write a book it would be about the color red. While not my favorite color, actually not ranking too terribly high, I think red is the most fascinating of all colors. It is also a very important component of purple, which ranks significantly higher on my list.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Spent a large portion of yesterday felting and finishing another genius Cat Bordhi design. That woman continues to boggle my mind with her brilliance. I'll put a picture up when I can be bothered to get the camera, the cord, and the computer all in the same place at the same time.

That Cat though, genius.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Turns out my reinvention of the wheel is complete crap. Neanderthal I am not, knitter with resources I am. Luckily I have the Interweave Knits everyone references when talking about Intarsia in the Round. I gotta say maybe given a long winter above the arctic circle I would have figured out how to really do intarsia in the round, but otherwise I just don't think I would have thought of it.

If anyone wants a totally bonk method of intarsia in the round, I am more than happy to oblige.

In the round?!

That's right folks, intarsia in the round:

The only weird thing, and I'm pretty sure I'm doing it right, is that I end up with 2 rows of red for every 1 row of green. This isn't that big of a deal when there aren't that many rows, but over time it would add up. I'll also have to see the difference gauge makes. Oh gauge, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Lunasea is right

So, like most campers, I picked up my Lunasea yarn and my pattern to make our whale-watch socks. While it isn't yarn that I would necessarily have chosen I do enjoy immensely the way it is knitting up. Being the (occasional) rogue knitter that I am I didn't do a guage swatch. I cast on for the medium size on size 1 needles. After about 4 rows I tried on the sock and it seemed huge. Like child hat huge. So I ripped it out and tried the small size on size 0 needles. This time I waited for a whole pattern repeat to try the socks on, too small. Like child sock small. Then I tried the medium size with size 0 needles. This time at least I could get it over my heel, but still too small. Now I've just turned the heel of my medium size socks knit on size 1 needles. The irony of the colorway being called Lunasea and the pattern being called Mystic Kelp is not lost on me.

Now that I have myself all sorted out I can say that I definitely like the fabric on size 1 needles better than on 0s. I think the mediumweight str really likes 1s or 2s best of all. I haven't tried lightweight, but I have some waiting patiently (my first Jaywalkers I think) and I suspect size 0 will be perfect.

In other news I tried intarsia in the round last night and while some of my stitches are a bit wonky(I blame the funny needles and lack of passion for the yarn, certainly not user error), I gotta say those Swedes are really on to something. I definitely see argyle socks in my future.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

More Camp

Camp Cockamamie was such a great experience that it is basically impossible to only talk about it in one post, so I'm talking about it again. Here are a few of my favorite moments from camp:
In Tina's class about color and dying and what goes into it all she says something along the lines of "If you don't like gauge just stop." Not stop doing swatches but stop hating them. I thought this was a very straightforward approach to the gauge swatch thing. (I just recently got into swatches and I love having my little basket full of them.)
Any moment with Cat was pretty classic. That lady is like the Darwin of knitting. Everyone is happily knitting their socks from the top down, or the toe up, whatever and she comes along and not only says you don't have to do it from either of those directions but you don't have to do in/decreases like that either. She's a very clever woman that is not quite right in the head and I only wish that it weren't more expensive to print longer patterns and books because I think the limitations on print space are what really make patterns sub-par. If you don't have one or all of her books go now, right now and get one. My favorite is the Second Treasury of Magical Knitting.
When, during the show and tell of fabulous handknits, Stephanie was not only proud of designing her fabulous wedding shawl because "that makes her super smart" but also that she got the yarn for only $3.50 Canadian. Not bad.
Then there was the time that Stephanie told us about Intarsia in the round and you could almost see the brain matter melting out the ears of everyone in the room. I've yet to try it, but man oh man the possibilities. Words are insufficient.

Monday, April 16, 2007


Before camp started we all got a package in the mail with five or six tiny balls of yarn of all different colors, textures and fibers and instructions to make a chicken mascot and bring it to camp. There would be awards for different categories but the only rule was the chicken had to be made of fiber.

I put all the balls of yarn out and looked at them, and pondered what sort of chicken I wanted. I waited, looked at the yarn some more. Opened all the drawers of my stash and looked at all my yarn, rememberd my college pottery professor and his obsession with texture and finally started in. I decided immediatly that I wanted my chicken to be felted. I am on a major felting streak right now and a felted body would give me a nice sturdy form to attach things to. (I am also currenty slightly obsessed with needle felting so that added to the allure.) I chose some stash alpaca (I have felted it before and makes a lovely, but very difficult to describe texture) and off I went. I knit a great big tube and cut it after I felted it enough that it wouldn't completely unravel. And I came up with this:

Not too bad a beginning. While that was drying I thought to myself that every well dressed chicken needs a shawl so I went looking for some suitable lace. I wanted a pattern that started from the tip and worked its way up so it would be easy to knit until it was a good size and stop, no tricky math. I found one in Victorian Lace Today (if you don't have this book you should get it...right now), the Shoulder Shawl in Cherry Leaf Pattern. I followed the pattern as written, except I did significantly fewer repeats. Then I did my very first knit on border, of which I am extremely proud. I am still constantly amazed out how simply clever knitting often is. The bottom tip of the shawl is a bit wonky, but it's for a felted chicken so I wasn't overly worried. And I came up with this:

I gotta say knitting small things never gets old. It's like lace instant gratification, none of the knitting rows with thousands of stitches in them, on and off the needles in two days.
Now that my chicken had clothing, but still no body parts it was time to actually assemble the poor girl. (I don't have any pictures of this part). Basically I folded one corner down so the sides met, trimmed the bottom and had a triangle. I used my mad crochet skillz that I had just learned on the shawl, and sewed her up. But not all the way (my 5th grade sewing lessons at least taught me to leave an opening for stuffing) and I stuffed. And stuffed. And stuffed. There is a lot of stuffing in my chicken. I immediately made a cute little red ruffle for the dangly chin part that has some proper name I don't know and sewed that on. Then I made the tail. The tail is where I put all my texture and color and craziness. I wanted to use the yarn Blue Moon sent me but not all over my chicken. So I made ruffles. Lots of ruffles with different gauges and yarn combos, but all sporting some sort of color combo or textured yarn I wouldn't normally do, ever. (For a ruffle case on some stitches, I did 9, knit 2 rows, k1 yo across, knit 2 rows, k1 yo across, knit 1 row, bind off, or something similar. Basically you want significantly more stitches on the last row than on the first.) I sewed them on. Then I made cute purple legs with little chicken feet. At this point my chicken had no head and I debated never giving her one and calling her a chicken with her head cut off. I thought this was hilarious, but every last person I asked said it was dumb. What do I know? Eventually I cobbled together a head, with eyes and a beak and everything. The last hurrah was the socks. I think these are my favorite part and they took probably the least amount of time. I knit basic socks on a very small scale and it is pure fluke how they turned out, but I love them.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

I'm Back!

And this time it's with a vengence.

I just got back from Camp Cockamamie hosted by Blue Moon Fiber Arts of Socks that Rock Fame and man oh man was it great. Life simply does not get better than hanging out with the Blue Moon gals on Orcas Island talking about knitting and socks for 3 full days. Socks were knit, skills were learned, a dpn v. circ smackdown occurred that may very well go down in knit history, and the SSK was discussed in much depth. But most of all I came away completely inspired. The main thing I have realized is that, along with all things in my life, I need to blog on a level I am comfortable and happy with. And frankly that isn't going to involve a lot of pictures; I just can't do the pictures and, now, that is fine with me. So now I am going to blog for me and do it my way, that Sinatra was really on to something.

Now I will continue on to my thoughts on camp. I am not going to do a blow by blow because a lot of other people have and mine wouldn't be much different. My thoughts though are all mine. I think what I loved most about camp was that not a single person was there alone. Many of them, like myself, may have physically gotten on the plane or in the car alone, but they weren't truly alone. I heard time and time again stories about how someone wasn't going to come but then her husband said she really had to, or her husband gave her the trip to camp for Christmas, or, one of my favorites, an old friend from across the country flew out to help take care of the kids after the childcare fell through so she could go to camp. There were also plenty of husbands there who were more than willing to entertain themselves for the day while their wives went to camp and meet up for dinner. In this day and age the actual act of knitting is somewhat inconsequential (no one knits socks because thier feet would freeze or their children would go hungry otherwise), but it is our passion and the support of those around us, knitters and muggles alike, that makes knitting of consequence. Simply knitting in a blank room with no one to show lace shawls to or no one to congratulate you on your first Fair Ilse sweater wouldn't be enough for anyone, even those process knitters. Knitting is inherently social (it really only occupies your hands, leaving your mouth and brain a lot of time to keep themselves busy) and I love the social support every single person came to camp with.

When I wondered whether I really should go to camp for a myriad of reasons it was my mother who didn't even hesitate to say that I should go, there was no question in her mind. She knows (it's no big secret) how much I love knitting and that this would be an awesome opportunity. It was also my family that sat quietly and listened to me go on and on (and on and on and on) about camp and fabulously wonderful it was. It is my friends (a lovely mix of muggles and knitters and some that fall in between) that eagerly await my report on camp and wonder how it was. I honestly feel that without them it simply wouldn't have been the same. I know that the web-based community of knitting is awesome and has a special power of it's own, but I think we all need to also recognize the community in our tangible lives. The family that doesn't blink when more yarn comes in the house, the friends that admire your new cardigan (or in my case the friend that bores her family to tears about the details of a sweater I am knitting her, the web is bigger than we think) and the co-workers that no longer wonder at your only wearing handknit socks in slightly radical colors.

We salute you supporters of knitters for you make our passion consequential.