Monday, September 21, 2009

Not Much Knitting, but Some Thinking of Knitting

It's a busy time of year, so I haven't gotten as much knitting time in as usual. I haven't been to the yarn shop, and I went on a mini-vacation over the weekend where I did more beach combing than knitting. Not a bad thing to do, of course!

I have knit a bit on my second mysterious Koi sock. I have new directions for the second one, so we'll see if this one comes out right! I have already received some lovely beaded stitch markers from the pattern designer as a thank you, so I do want to actually test the directions I helped with! It would be nice, huh?

I also got to the edging, finally, on my Andromeda shawl. Interestingly, it's the hardest part, and has a lot of symbols I have never seen before. Naturally, the rest of the shawl has written out instructions, but not the edging! (Unless I lost it when my printer got everything out of order due to not having a paper feed tray, which IS a possibility.) And I could not find a legend to explain some of the abbreviations (I figured out that one was K2tog in garter stitch and another was knit in front and back in garter stitch, but by trial and error). I had to figure out a few things and read a fairly complex chart, but persevered and now have half the edging done. I decided that the pattern is at least a "medium" in difficulty!

Because the shawl ends in points (see photo--sorry to steal the one off the pattern page, but you can't see it on mine yet 'cause it's not blocked and I sincerely doubt it will be that big when it IS blocked) you have to attach the yarn at various points, then bind off and reattach it. That leaves lots of little ends! Mostly I am proud that I got it all straightened out and arranged such that I think it will resemble the picture fairly closely, only much more colorful and with much thinner yarn.

One thing that helped, once I realized I'd have to be changing which end of the needle I'd be working on, was to put the second half of the shawl on a holder while I worked the first half of the edging. That made it a little easier to manipulate the stitches.

Speaking of Thinking, and Shawls...An Edging Question

One of the readers of this blog (which I originally typed as "blob"), landofmisfitknits, asked me on Ravelry for some ideas for other edgings to try out on Dianna, because she'd like to make one like mine, but doesn't have access to a copy of the Knitting on the Edge book. I suggested that her library might have the Barbara Walker treasury series or the Harmony Guides, and I found a website with links to knitted lace edgings. Hey I should share it with you so, go here to see if any of them are any good--I was working so I didn't check. But, if any of you have any ideas for online resources or other books she might check into, please share! I know that my books on Shetland lace and other shawl books have a few, too. That Heirloom Knitting book from England is wonderful, but expensive and takes a while to show up. What are your favorite edging sources?

I did notice that there are a LOT of pages on the Web about how to attach a knitted-on edging, so if you decide you want to do that to a shawl like mine, you will be able to find plenty of help by just searching for the right terms ("knitted edging" should do it). Remember, you can either attach an edging to live stitches OR directly to an edge--you just have to try to get the right number of rows so that you don't pucker the knitting or make a ruffle. Luckily, blocking can be quite forgiving!

OK, as rambly and imprecise as this is, you'd never peg me for an editor or technical writer, but let's just call this a creative writing exercise and forgive me. I'll try to write a bit more often in the next week or two--I think work may be less busy, but I have evening engagements for many, many days in a row now!

PS: If any of my old Bluebonnet friends are reading, I miss you and hope you keep in touch while I am not over there much!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Koi Sock Up Close and Reviews!

I promised I'd show you how the Koi sock yarn knits up, once I had a sample. I can't show you the sock, but here are two views of it's components. This is how it looks in a twisted slip stitch. Note the lack of pooling or striping. It's a real variegated yarn, with many shadings and not a lot of sameness. I love that.

And here is how it looks in plain stockinette, 64 stitches to a row. I think it looks really nice. I love the light and dark versions of each color, and the little blips of other colors popping in and out. This is good, since my Andromeda shawl won't use up my first skein of laceweight, which means I will need to figure out something big to do with the rest.

As for those socks, I re-learned a common lesson with reading knitting patterns. That is to READ the instructions. There is a three-row pattern in the foot of the socks I was knitting, which I read the first time, carefully. Then I figured I understood it and didn't read carefully the second and consequent times, and missed a few key words. They made the sock a nice thing, but not the one the designer was going for! The second sock will be a fraternal twin!


I haven't had a chance to look at the new Knitty, but I will. However, I have just purchased two new books that I was impressed with, so I thought I'd share some thoughts on them.

Knitted Socks East and West: 30 Designs Inspired by Japanese Stitch Patterns, by Judy Sumner. What a useful book. First, there is all kinds of interesting information on some stitches that I have never tried before. I minored in Japanese, but can't read well enough to figure out those Japanese books (I can handle the crochet ones, but didn't understand the knitting charts). Sumner helps a lot with the charts, and the execution of the interesting stitches, like ones with wraps and long lifts. My favorite part of the book is her descriptions of how she learned the stitches and the technical stuff. However, there are plenty of lovely socks in the book, too. Most are very textural, with bobbles, wrapped stitches and interesting traveling techniques. They are definitely candidates for solid or semi-solid yarns. I liked the very tall socks, stirrup socks and toe-less socks. It was nice of Sumner to include a variety of styles that would appeal to old and young. Many will work for men, too. I'd say if you are interested in trying some new techniques or adding new stitches to your own designing repertoire, this book is well worth getting. Oh yes, and the photography is pretty clear, so you can get a good idea of what you are aiming for in the unfamiliar ways of making socks!

The Joy of Sox: 30+ Must-Knit Designs, by Linda Kopp. Whoever wrote the title was not kidding. There are really, really a lot of designs in this book that I would like to knit. The only ones that didn't intrigue me much were the ones in worsted weight yarn, but even some of those look like they'd be fun to knit as holiday gifts for house socks, etc. I got the book originally because Melanie, the author of the Pink Lemon Twist blog has a pattern in it (Chick Flick). But once I started looking at the patterns, I was glad I got it. There are some really, really lacy options that I loved (Sweet Nothings and Zhen Zen, for example), but also some wonderful uses of color--some of the colorwork socks are just breathtaking. And if you like cables and twisted stitches, there is plenty of that for you, too. Really, there is nary a dud sock in the book. What got a bit old for me were the sexual innuendo passages and the silly polls that didn't add a thing to the knitting content. The whole "joy of sex" parallel really seems unnecessary. This is such a wonderful collection of interesting socks that I wish they'd come up with a catchy title concept that related more to knitting. Well, it's easy enough to just skip the polls, sex content and such, and enjoy the patterns and the parts about the designers and their experiences--those were interesting!

That's it for me! I have not been feeling very social and am putting most of my energy into work and my knitting. I'm trying to figure out what to do next--I really enjoyed teaching last week and need to figure out a way to get back into that!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Do You Hate Short Rows?

If so, stop reading this lame ole blog and click quickly over to Fleegle's Blog and check out her brilliant inspiration. It's a new way of doing short rows. It looks good and is easy to remember. That Fleegle woman is a genius, I tell you!

My next pair of socks will definitely have a short-row heel so I can try it out!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Pretty Slip Stitch Socks

I had a lot of sock knitting time this weekend, so I managed to finish my Slip Stitch socks. Here is a close-up of the finished product. I really love how the slip stitches make a cool pattern on the leg, though they look good on the foot, too. As you may recall, the yarn is Handmaiden Casbah in a colorway from last year that honors the Loopy Ewe's anniversary. The yarn is a thick fingering weight and has cashmere in it.

Here you see all of the socks. I made them pretty short, since I was concerned about running out of yarn. That's also why I did them toe up (that and because I like the slipped stitches to be running up, not down the socks). I'm really happy with these because I got the best toe-up cast on I ever got on these--the toes look MAHVELOUS, and the heels are very pretty, too. I didn't miss any wraps or anything.

Here you can see what the tops look like. The slip stitches really break up the spiraling stripes of a typical hand-dyed yarn. This is easy to do for yourself. Just cast on a multiple of four stitches, and do k1, p3 for a row, then slip 1, p3 the next row. OK, I sort of lied here. I actually did 33 stitches per side and adjusted so that the stripes centered on the front. I had one purl on each edge. This made me have the right number of stitches on the foot for Wendy Johnson's heel. I then adjusted when I needed to for rejoining at the leg, so I had 32 stitches per side. It just required a couple of strategically hidden decreases.

For the ribbing, I continued slipping every other row where I was doing it, and substituted a knit for the second purl in the pattern. I don't think you'd have to do it. The pattern is ribbing enough as it is. I just wanted a change at the top.

And in case you are interested, here is a photo of my Wollmeise. The colorway is actually roter Himbeermund, which is very similar to the one I linked to last time. They have a number of fairly similar reds. Maybe if Sewing Karen reads this she will tell me what Himbeermund means.
While Saturday was a bummer, due to the LYS closing without letting any of the regular Saturday folks know, Sunday made up for it, because I enjoyed teaching knitting to some very nice folks at the Lonestar MENSA conference. I took a bunch of projects and answered questions about them, and gave them some knitting trivia in addition to teaching. I decided to not hand out the donated Red Heart yarn, and instead gave them that weird yellow KnitPicks yarn I rejected for the second Lady Jane vest. I hadn't spent much money on it, and it gave them a nicer tactile experience. We used donated DPNs for the lessons, which was a bit of a challenge due to some people's 35 stitch garter stitching being about as long as the needles. But, it all worked out. I really enjoyed meeting all the new people, and was impressed by their margarita machine in the headquarters room! Since I've missed teaching knitting for the past number of months, this was especially fun!

Onward and upward, I started a Super Secret project with my Koi sock yarn. I am test knitting a pattern for my friend Jodie in Ohio. It is a great pattern for the yarn, so I am looking forward to how it works out. And I haven't messed up the Andromeda shawl any more. I am on the last pattern row in chart 3, leaving me just chart 4 and the borders to go. I DO hope this thing blocks a lot bigger than it is now!

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Little Oopsie, and a Score

If you are an IRL friend and were at the LYS on Wednesday, you'd have seen me concentrating quite hard on my Andromeda shawl, and having trouble with the only row I managed to knit that evening.

I now know why!

I had made a fairly substantial error 3 pattern rows (6 rows) down from that row, which had all sorts of things not lining up. Because I often knit without counting (just looking at the previous row), I guess I'd missed the lack of an increase section. Well, no WONDER things weren't working out.

I had hardly any lace knitting time last night, because I had a meeting of a new women's group I joined (a lovely bunch of whom most were old enough to be my mother). But I did manage to a) spot the mistake, b) rip it back, c) get the wiggly lace back on the needles and c) knit a correct row.

The result is that, since there is no lace-knitting time tonight due to high school football chaperoning, I will be less far along next time I am at the yarn shop than I was last time!

Ah well, it's all in the process, right? And I learned I can find my mistakes and remedy them, which makes a person happy. By the way, folks at the shop assured me that my pattern DOES show up in the Koi yarn and that it will look fine when blocked. So I am continuing.

I did get through the heel on my second slip-stitch sock and hope to get some leg done on the bus/at the game tonight, which means that, as soon as I can get a printer driver that will work, I will be able to print out the pattern for the socks I am going to make with my Koi sock yarn. You'll get nothing but super-close-ups of those, since they are test knitting for a friend, but you will get to see how it knits up in socks.

A Score

Sorry I don't have any photos of it, but I did make a score on Saturday evening. Sherri at the Loopy Ewe did a major act of kindness, and posted on her Facebook status that there was some Wollmeise yarn available. Now, usually only the people who stay up all night and press F5 on their computers (or who order directly from Germany during the middle of the night) get a chance to buy any of this stuff, because it is apparently the Best Sock Yarn on Earth. There is a sizeable cult of knitters out there who feel compelled to own every color. Many do not plan to knit with it. I guess it's like an investment. If you need money, you can sell it for very high prices on Ebay or Ravelry.

Well, I love sock yarn very much, as you well know, and I have indulged in a few limited edition models that I am glad to own (such as the yarn my current socks are being knitted from--anniversary special for the Loopy Ewe last year) but I can't get THAT hyped up about any particular one. This means, as lovely as it appears to be in photos and the ones Bernina Karen (thus named because she teaches sewing) at the LYS has shown me, I didn't own any. Still, I can respond to a Facebook notice at a reasonable hour of the evening! So, when I saw the status, I went over to the site and purchased myself one skein. Yes, one. So I can now say I am no longer a "virgin," as Karen said. On the other hand, California Susan apparently found out the same time I did and got three skeins. I wonder whose stash will soon be larger than mine if she isn't careful?? (I really love how the yarn shop denizens pester and tease each other--it feels like one big happy family sometimes, complete with irritating siblings and crazy aunts (and uncles).)

I got the yarn in just a couple of days! Ordered Saturday evening and arrived Tuesday. I must say the colors are rich and deep. They are an intense violet-red and red-violet mix. It could be this color, though I seem to remember my color started with "rot" not ended with it. I want to make them into socks, even though it's almost too nice (and expensive) for socks. Maybe they will be some fancy Cookie A socks, worth the expense!

I must say, it was fun to feel the rush of knowing I had to order fast or it would all disappear. Probably my biggest excitement for the week!

Things to Come

Think of me on Sunday. I will be teaching knitting at the local MENSA convention. Sometimes teaching smart people is easy; sometimes it is hard. I need to make up some handouts AND figure out a way to print them (my printer refuses to install its driver, all of a sudden).