Passing it on
Through a variety of other activites, I didn’t get much knitting of my own finished this weekend, but I did tutor others.
I met up with some friends I hadn’t seen in a while. And I knew they liked yarn, so I brought the part of my stash that’s up for grabs.
I taught my friend Laura how to knit and purl. She crochets with a very unusual throwing method, so I tried to teach her continental, but she still ended up throwing (although with her left hand). And, I saw how natural it is for a new knitter to take to Eastern Crossed knitting. She’ll have to work on recognizing her stitch mounts so she can uncross them. However, after about a half-hour of knitting (during which time she took to it really well, and had very good tension), we played video games for an hour, so she claims not to have retained much. Laura ended up with 2 big bags of yarn from the stash.
A month or so ago, I also taught my friend, Emma, to knit. She’d been working on a wool/eyelash scarf. But I didn’t give her much guidance about how much to cast on, so she cast on 50 stitches and ended up with something far too wide. She also knit with eyelash on each row and ended up with something very fuzzy instead of with fuzzy accents. So we frogged the whole thing. Based on her gauge, we reduced her cast on to 25 stitches, and I advised her to only pick up the eyelash every 3rd row to space it out.
Emma also grabbed a couple of balls from my stash. She choose some sport-weight yarn and plans to make some preemie caps with it. So she’ll have to learn to decrease and knit in the round. I gave her a small tutorial on the differences between double-points and magic loop. I know I’m biased by magic loop, but after watching me work the 15-stitch example tube both ways, she’s pretty sure that she wants to try magic loop herself. We’ll work on that next time she visits.
I also made a little progress on Zig Zag since I last wrote. Coming back from CA, I knit more rounds on the plane. I’m about a dozen rounds from dividing for armholes. I still have a bunch of things to catch up on from my time away, but that includes a lot of TiVo’d TV, so I think I’ll get to it.
Adventures in Crafting
Yesterday I went over and watched football with Stitch Bitch. She’s in the process of moving cross-country and so I went to look at some issues of an Australian magazine that she wants to destash: Embroidery and Cross-Stitch (more on that later). I also added about 25 rows to Zig Zag. Here it is now, about 9 inches long:
And I got to the point where I started thinking about the next step in the process. Remember how I said I needed to do some more math to know how many more rows of the body I need to knit before dividing for armholes? Well, I did the math and got somewhat confused. Ironic, because after football, SB and I watched “Numb3rs”, a new TV show where some Caltech math whiz solves crimes and says things like “Numbers solve everything”.
Now, I’m a scientist and a fan of numbers, so why am I having a problem with Zig Zag?
Well, the pattern lists two gauges — before and after blocking. And even though I used a different yarn, my gauges match up. I think that the elements of lace in the pattern helps explain the growth.
But I digress. There are two gauges. The introductory text clearly states that the pattern gives measurements for the pre-blocking gauge and that the schematic has the final measurements. All well and good until I double-check and it turns out that the pattern and the schematics give the same numbers! Doing a little more math on the suggested sizes, I figured out that these numbers are for the post-blocking gauge. That’s fine, I’ll use a different formula to calculate how many rows I need to do. I’m just really glad I caught it now, before starting sleeves that would have been an inch and a half too long!
About those magazines:
I’m an intermediate cross-stitcher but I don’t do any embroidery. I thought I’d take a look to see if there was anything that caught my fancy in the magazines. Well, I didn’t know how much I didn’t know about decorative stitching!
The magazines are really stellar quality, much better than any knitting magazines I’ve seen. They have thick, glossy paper and contain well-written articles about a wide variety of techniques that go far beyond beginner. There were many projects that involved embroidered smocking or 3-D embroidery. And a lot of embroidery on wool fleece. Stitch Bitch has about two dozen issues of this magazine from 1998-2000 if you’re interested. These are far too good to let go to the yard sale.
A few issues featured the next craft I will try: Temari. Temari is a form of Japanese spherical embroidery. I was immediately entraced by the balls with brightly colored shapes on them. I think it looks like Origami with thread. SB thinks I will be good at it, “It’s very geometric and you understand all that”. As luck would have it, she also had 2 books on it in her Yard Sale Closet. Those books and the magazine issues came home with me. I think some form of Temari will be this year’s holiday ornament.
I was very good and didn’t stop at any stores that sell the necessary supplies, so I can’t show you any of my own work yet. But here are a couple links to sites with lots of Temari to give you a taste:
Charlotte’s Web anyone?
Just wondering if anyone who reads this has ever done a Koigu Charlotte’s Web. I’m starting to think ahead about a project for my MIL and thought she might like one. From the pictures I’ve seen, I know that you use 5 different colors, but the thing I haven’t been able to glean is how you switch between them. Is it an abrupt switch after a certain number of rows? Is there a series of fade rows where you knit with both colors for a while (and so do you have to knit double in the non-transition rows?)? Or do you alternate rows in a transition section? I’ve looked at dozens and dozens of Charlotte pictures online and I haven’t been able to figure it out.
If it is a nice fade, I thought my MIL might really like this done in a variety of purple hues. So maybe some Purple-ish KPPPM with some solid purple KPM mixed in. Or maybe just the whole thing in purple shades of KPM.
New Year, New Site
Welcome to the new home of Needles & Hooks!
Please update your bookmarks and site feed.
All of the archives and content is here. Some facelifts will be forthcoming. Please bear with me.
Zig Zagging Away
I spent a good chunk of time working on Zig Zag on the plane. I’m about 50 rows in, and I think about halfway to the armhole shaping (but I need to do the math again to make sure).
Here’s what it looks like:
I picked up a rhythm with the pattern pretty quickly and only made one error that I’ve noticed so far — for some reason, I skipped a yarn over. But I noticed it a couple of rows later and I was able to pick it up and there was enough slack around it that the proper hole is there and it doesn’t look funny. Yay!
A friend of mine needed a tiny tam hat for a photo of her ferret. Of course, I stepped up to the plate.
This wasn’t just any tam, it was supposed to copy this one:
Armed with a crochet hook and some DMC Pearl Cotton 5, I set to work. At first, I tried to crochet in the round, alternating colors to create the 8 panels. However, I couldn’t achieve the feeling of the original, where the primary color was brown and the yellow and brick were accents.
Then, while at the gym one day, I had an epiphany. What if I borrowed a page from knitting and tried a form of entrelac? With a little short-row technique? And what if I doubled the thread, so that sometimes I worked with just one color, but sometimes I worked with 2?
It worked like a charm. I started with a base of 12 stitches, and decreased on the inside edge of each row until I had 3 stitches left. This created a right triangle with a long diagonal, ending with the thread to the outside of the work. Then, I worked back across the diagonal of the triangle, working 12 stitches down along the previous rows as a set-up for the next triangle.
Here’s a few different shots of it from different angles, with and without flash.
It turned out to be a really neat technique. If I thought tams were stylish, I might try to make a human sized version and write out the pattern. But it was a lot of fun to do for a ferret. If I get a photo, I’ll post it.
And I made some good progress on Zig Zag. I’ve joined the two flaps and I’m working in the round for the body. It’s all ready to be worked on the plane tomorrow. I hope the movie is decent.
I finished up knitting the extra rows for the 3rd grafted section of the Squiggles Sweater last night. I need to kitchener it back together, but didn’t feel up to the task last night. So I started swatching for Zig Zag instead.
I’m using Rowan’s Wool Cotton, single strand (the pattern calls for doubling) in “Ship Shape” which is a greeny-blue. Despite people calling this a DK weight yarn, it’s matching gauge just fine.
I have a bunch more rows to go before I bind off the swatch and wash it, but it’s looking very nice. And I started learning where I’m going to have issues with the pattern, because my swatch zags instead of zigs in a few places. Clearly I’ll have to use some guide strands every dozen rows or so in case ripping back becomes necessary.
And I’ve solved the winding dilemma. I’ll wind a half-dozen balls or so (need plenty for the flight) and I’ll toss several more in my luggage unwound. If I need them, I just use them as is and hope for no knots!
Oh no, more travel
I have to head out to L.A. for work for 2 weeks this time. There’s no way I can take the Squiggles Sweater with me — far too tedious and I need a lot of room to spread out. Definitely not a project for the plane. And my other projects are all either too close to finishing (the gloves) or require more concentration (Marcel’s sweater). So I guess I have to start something new. (darn)
The candidates are the Zig Zag sweater from knitty or the lavender Adrienne Vittadini sweater. I think I’m leaning toward Zig Zag. But the more important question is whether I wind all the yarn balls before I go, or to bring my winder with me!
Yesterday I made it most of the way through seaming the second graft back together on Squiggles. And I made a bunch of swatches for a secret project and tossed them in the washing machine and dryer. It’s for a baby project, so I wanted to make sure that the yarn I chose would hold up to the abuse a mom (even a knitting mom) might give it.
The results were fascinating.
The candidate yarns: Mission Falls 1824 Wool (100% Merino Superwash), Cascade 220 Superwash (100% wool), and Lion Brand Wool-Ease (80% acrylic, 20% wool).
Each yarn was knitted into 6 inch squares on size 8 needles. Interestingly enough, I had identical gauge on each.
The abuse: Machine wash warm (All Free & Clear detergent); tumble dry medium heat (no fabric softener); mixed in with a bunch of socks and undies.
None of the swatches shrank noticably. All of them came out very staticky as could be expected without softener. But the rest of performance varied.
Mission Falls: the swatch became decidedly fuzzy. So much so, that I took it out of the running immediately. To be fair, the label says “cool to lukewarm water” and “tumble dry low”. I guess they really mean it.
Cascade: This swatch got a tiny bit fuzzier, but it also became incredibly soft (I brought this swatch and the Lion Brand to work today, and all my co-workers immediately said it was super soft). And where my knitting was a tad irregular before washing, it looks flawless now.
Lion Brand: This swatch also got a tiny bit fuzzy, perhaps less so than the Cascade. However, where my knitting looked nicee and regular before tossing it in the washer, the fabric looks jaggedy and crisp now. I think the acrylic is showing itself. To be fair, it looks just fine, but it is a striking difference when compared to the Cascade.
Clearly, the Lion Brand was more forgiving when I knit it (so I’ll use it for my Master’s swatches), but it didn’t hold up as well to the abuse.
In the end, I think I’m going with the Cascade. While I will recommend to the mother that she take care in washing it, it’s good to know that if she forgets, it’s not the end of the world.
I’m still working on inserting new rows into the Squiggles Sweater. It’s slow goinging. Working in the needles to hold the live stitches is rather quick.
Ripping out the row between them is a little more challenging because the yarn has tendency to felt.
Knitting the new rows is a breeze. Then comes the kitchener. Total pain the ass.
The section you see in the photo took me a good two hours to do. Many, many times I had to undo a stitch I had just done because I put the needle in the stitch the wrong way. The night after I took that photo, I finished up the seam. I didn’t time myself because I didn’t want to know. Eventually I got into a rhythm and I had to undo fewer stitches. But it was painful throughout.
I finished it and it looks pretty good. And then I went to the next section and finished the knitting. Now it’s waiting for the grafting. And suddenly cleaning my house is very attractive. Is that the laundry I hear?