Saturday, July 29, 2006

Where'd this past week go???

I can't believe it's been more than a week since I last posted. I do know why it's been that long; I just can't believe it's actually been that long. It's been very hot here for the past week or more. Temperatures of 40ÂșC have been the norm (that's in the 100's F for the rest of you). The heat wave that's been hitting a large part of the country hit us, too. Up here in my bedroom, where the computer resides, it gets very warm as we don't have a functioning air conditioner. It's simply been too hot to be up here for any length of time. And so, I haven't posted.

That doesn't mean I've been doing nothing. Quite the contrary.

Compare this picture to the one in my last post and you'll see I've made pretty good progress on the copper Icarus (from IK Summer 2006, using Jaggerspun Zephyr). I've done all the repeats required for chart one and am two rows into chart two. I'm really pleased with how it's knitting up. It looks "solid" (for lack of a better word), but in actuality, it's light and silky and the yarn has a nice sheen to it. I wasn't sure I'd like it knit up, but I do. I'd like to get my hands on more of this yarn.

Then, last week, in order to escape the heat for a short while, John and I made a trip to the library. Guess which section I headed straight for (the first two guesses don't count). I was prepared to be disappointed.... again. But I wasn't. I came home with three knitting books. One was Barbara G. Walkers "Mosaic Knits", which I flipped through, read a bit of, and then put aside. The other two books, though... Well, see for yourself.

"Stahman's Shawls and Scarves" and "Shawls and Scarves" from Knitter's magazine. I want them both. I've been wanting Myrna Stahman's book for a while now, but didn't want to order it without being able to look through it. Now, I really want it. Already I've designed my own Seaman's scarf, using the guidelines in Myrna's book.

I also started a shawl from the "Shawls and Scarves" book, but frogged it when I realized it called to slip the first stitch purlwise, with yarn in front. Did I catch that the first time? Nope, of course not. I read that about 30 rows in. So I frogged it. I really want to get the Icarus off the needles before I start another shawl. This book has some really nice patterns in it. The pictures are a little dated, but shawls don't really go out of style, do they?

Speaking of shawls, John asked me one day what I was working on and when I told him it was a shawl, he asked how many shawls I could wear? I told him.. one... at a time. Right now, I have four shawls...the clapotis, the Flower Basket shawl, the Meadow Blossoms shawl and the Kiri Shawl. Icarus will be #5. Do you think that's too many? I'm really enjoying the process of knitting them.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Into the Frog Pond


That's where the Icarus shawl went. I was at the point of moving to Chart #2. I did a stitch count. Just to be sure. I counted again. Yup. 12 stitches short. I looked at my work. I looked at Chart #1. I know what I did wrong. I started each of my pattern repeats one pattern row too soon. That's four stitches increased for the last three repeats. I'd have to frog back three full pattern repeats. If I was going to do that, I might as well frog back to where I'd made a mistake in the first repeat of the pattern, right? Then I decided that if I was going to frog it that far, I might as well just frog the whole thing and start fresh.

With a different yarn.

I'll put the Skacel Merino Lace back into the stash for now. I'm sure another shawl pattern will come along for the Merino Lace. This time, I'm doing Icarus in a copper coloured Jaggerspun Zephyr. It's 50% merino wool and 50% silk. It's a touch heavier than the ML, so I've changed the needle size from the called for 3.25 mm to 4.0 mm. That will make the shawl a little bigger, but that's alright. I'll knit it as written. I had planned, originally, to work one more pattern repeat to make the shawl a little bigger than it was in the pattern anyway.

Right now, I've completed one pattern repeat and am almost done the second repeat. This time, I'm not making stupid mistakes. I'm paying attention, and not assuming I know the pattern.

I've also completed a sweater design... well, the design concept part, anyway. I've drawn out the design and have a pretty good idea of the yarn it will require and the stitches I'll be using. All I'll say right now is that part of the sweater will incorporate a diagonal rib and cables. I'll be keeping my eyes open for just the right kind of yarn.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Double, double... double your knitting

Have you ever tried double knitting? Do you even know what it is?

Well, it's a way of knitting that's knitted flat, but makes a tube of fabric that is stocking stitch (or garter stitch, if desired) all the way around (double sided). I try it every so often just to see if I can still do it; I haven't actually used it in anything yet, but perhaps one of these days.

Here's how to work a swatch of double knitting... just for the fun of it. Give it a try!

Using any yarn you want and needles appropriate for your yarn of choice, cast on an even number of stitches. For my swatch, I cast on 30 sts on 4.0 mm needles, using Sirdar's Country Style DK. Now, work every row as follows:

*k1, slip 1 pwise wyif; repeat from * to end of row.

Do that row for about two inches or so. Now, just because we're swatching, pull the swatch off the needles and separate the front and back. See? It should be a tube! Pretty cool, huh?

How it looks on the needle.

Showing both sides--identical

And with the two sides separated. I tucked the needle inside just to show you that it truly is two-sided.

So, I did that. Then I looked at it. Studied it. Realized that the band on my Mop Top Toque pattern looks very much like this little piece of double knitting. But it was done in the round using a provisional cast on and then, when it was the right length, folded up and knitted together with the working stitches (did that make sense?). I wondered if I could do a double knitted hat band and achieve almost the same results.

I tried it on double-pointed needles. It works. It becomes a two row pattern, though.

Again, cast on an even number of stitches. Divide your stitches evenly on double-pointed needles and work as follows:

Row 1: *k1, slip 1 pwise wyif; rep from * to end of round
Row 2: *sl 1 pwise wyib, p1; rep from * to end of round

Repeat these two rows for desired length.

BTW, for those of you not familiar with the abbreviations:
pwise - as if to purl; purlwise
wyif - with yarn in front
wyib - with yarn in back

Give it a try. Let me know what you think. Suggest applications for this stitch. Some of the ones I've thought of include a scarf (worked on thicker yarn with large needles... no right side or wrong side...always good on a scarf), the band on a toque (as already posted about), slipper soles, perhaps cuffs on sleeves?

Oh yes... Lizardknits asked what yarn I'm using for the Icarus shaw. It's Skacel's Merino Lace on 3.25 mm needles. Everyone seeing it tells me they could never work with yarn that fine, but I'm not finding it difficult or even frustrating at all. As a matter of fact, I find the stitches easy to read. I just have to pay attention to what I'm doing; I can't "feel" the stitches like I can with heavier yarn and so, I have to actually look at my work as I'm knitting.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Adventures in a Night Garden

The Night Garden Noni bag is done. All the leaves and flowers have been sewn on. I'm not doing any beadwork, as the pattern calls for. I like it; it's cute, it's different.

I'm not sure that I would actually use it; it will make a good gift for just the right person. It certainly was a fun project. I apologize for not taking a before picture, but this pretty much shows it. In all, there are three roses, 2 in the bright pink and one in a softer pink.

I could be tempted to knit up one or two of her other patterns, but not until I have a few more projects completed. I'm really trying not to start any new projects. Already, I've been asked whether or not I've started knitting anything with my kool-aid dyed yarn. No, I haven't. It's languishing in a bag at the moment, waiting patiently. It can wait for a while.

There are two projects I'm putting most of my time in to right now... Oceanna's Tropical Punch cardigan (haven't worked on it today) and my Icarus shaw, the one in the latest Interweave Knits.

This is an older picture. I'm into the fifth pattern repeat right now (Chart 1). I'm going to work one additional repeat because I like my shawls a little wider than 72". One more pattern repeat will complete the main body of the shawl; then I get to start some knitting that will be a little more interesting. I'll keep you posted.

Oh yes, I'm still working it on straight needles, rather than a circular. Right now, there are over 300 stitches and I've got room to spare on the needle. As long as that's the case, I'm staying with straights. I like them much better!

Now, the guys are playing crib and dinner's on the stove (I'm not cooking it). I think it's time for a glass of wine and a little more knitting before dinner.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Stuff and Such

There she is... Kiri #2. Finished. Not perfect, but finished. She's now hanging around on the sofa in the living room, just in case my shoulders are a tad chilly. I love her! I love the colours, I love the texture. If my daughter ever decides she wants it, she'll have to fight me for it (just kidding.. but this one's MINE!).

And the obligatory closeup...

Want to see another FO? I've already mentioned this one.

The ever patient spaghetti squash (who's still hanging around) agreed to model the second Baby Beret. I made the trip to Michael's on Sunday to pick up the ribbon. This beret is now on display at the store while the other one, for Oceanna, is waiting to be mailed. I want to finish her Tropical Punch cardigan first. It's coming along, a little slower than anticipated, but right now, I'm almost at the point of dividing for front and back. I have one more project to turn into a FO and then I'll concentrate on the cardigan.

The trip to Michael's, and Debbie Stoller's crochet book also inspired this little project.

It took about 20 minutes to put the whole thing together; it took longer to attach the clasp (magnetic) than it did to crochet the bracelet. And it was fun! Now, I'm looking at my bead bucket and going..."hmmmmmmm..." While I had the wire out, I decided to experiment a little and did this...

That's 10 stitches on 3.5 mm needles. It's about 1.5" square. I know there are books about knitting and crocheting with wire, but I've not really studied any of them. I've shied away from working with wire (other than "normal" beading with wire) because I thought it would be very hard on the hands and the needles. I was surprised at how easy it really was (other than the occasional struggle to keep the wire in my fingers.. it was curling off the spool). I used beading wire and a 6.0 mm hook for the bracelet and jet glass faceted beads. It's a simple foundation chain with a bead snugged into each stitch (except one, if you look closely). It was my first attempt, so I wasn't even trying to achieve perfection. The next one will be better.

Ok, I'm realizing that this will probably be a long post. I hope you don't mind. I have lots to share today.

This weekend also saw my first attempt at Kool Aid dyeing. I'm probably one of the last to jump on that bandwagon. The only reason I did, other than the fact that I've wanted to try it just for the sake of trying it, is that I had the off-white Regia Silk 4 ply that I'd used to knit the lacy camisole from "the Knitter's Stash". Remember that one? The one I frogged at the neck shaping because I was way out on my count? That was three balls of yarn. I had one more of the same in my stash.

I turned it into this....

The one on the left, I'm not too sure of. It's been turned into center-pull balls now and looks a little better, but it's pretty muddled. It will make some pretty wild socks, wouldn't you say? The two on the right, I love. I love the colours. That was done with strawberry and cherry kool aid. The darker one was done first; the second dipped into the remaining liquid, which had lost much of it's intensity. I didn't realize it would do that. If I ever do kool aid dyeing again, I will keep that in mind. It was fun and quick to do, a great Sunday afternoon project but I'm not sure I'll try it again.

Now, on to what I alluded to in my last post. I have a plan for the fall. At the store, like most yarn stores, we offer classes. Our knitting classes are predominantly geared to beginner and intermediate knitters. Nothing wrong with that. There are intermediate to experienced knitters who come in, though, looking for something more. That's where I've decided to step in.

I'm planning on offering two hour seminars, in my home, for knitters who want to learn some of the more "advanced" techniques. For instance, there are a lot of ways to cast on; most knitters I've encountered always cast on the way they were first taught and aren't aware that different cast on techniques exist. Nor do they realize that different methods of casting on are suitable for different applications.

So far, I have six topics that I can expound on for two hours at a time. In no particular order, they are:

1. Casting on... casting on for differing purposes
2. Casting off... choosing the right cast off for the job
3. Button holes
4. Sock knitting... different methods of knitting in the round
i.e. dpns, Magic loop, 2 circs
5. Lace knitting, including how to read charts
6. Cables unravelled, including how to read charts

Minimum class size will be 2 people, with a maximum of 6 (that's all that will fit around my dining room table). Classes will NOT be for beginning knitters; a basic understanding of knitting will be required. I intend to have handouts prepared, with lots of room for taking notes. The cost for each 2-hour session will be $25.00.

Opinions? Suggestions? Suggestions for other topics to cover? Input!! Your comments are requested, positive or negative.

Friday, July 07, 2006

It's Friday... a title for this post eludes me

Where do I start? Hmmm.... ok, let's start with the weather. Cliché, you think? Perhaps, but this is not one of those "nice day we're having" things. The last three days have seen a change in the weather here. We've gone from 30C heat to about 20C and have had thunder storms each of those last three days. It's been considerably cooler. And, I must admit, it's been a great relief to be able to sleep at night. I was getting more than a little cranky and irritable.

We had the camera out on Wednesday evening, the day of the biggest thunder and lightning show. It was pretty spectacular. I managed (somehow) to catch a shot of the lightning. The picture's a little grainy (400 ISO will do that), but at least you can see the lightning. It was pretty amazing watching the storm roll in from the south, completely obscure the other side of the lake, move north and then see another wave of cloud, rain and lightning move in, again from the south. The rain (and hail) came down in sheets. John decided he just had to go out in it; he was completely soaked within minutes and laughing like a crazy man.

On to knitting...

Because it has been so hot, I didn't really get much knitting done, but that doesn't mean I haven't done any. I've made a second little beret, in pink this time, as a sample for the store and to test the pattern. I'd post a picture of it, but I need a little bit of pink ribbon first. With this one, I made a round of yo, k2tog after the ribbing; I'll thread the ribbon through the holes and tie it into a pretty bow. It can, of course, be tied to fit (as opposed to fit to be tied?... sorry, couldn't resist).

I sort of referred to knitting with 100% wool the other day. Here's what I'm doing with that wool, the project that I simply had to put down for a while because my hands were just too sticky from the heat. (Oh, if you read Lisa's comments from that post, you'll see a couple of great suggestions for summer knitting... check out her comments. Lisa? Thank you for those!)

Sally brought in the line of Noni Bag patterns; they're gorgeous! I couldn't resist this one. The finished size is approximately 6". It's a pretty simple knit, really, and the instructions are clear and well written. Of course, I'll post pictures when I have it completely finished. Before and after??

You can see the complete line of Noni Bags on Nora Bellows' website. Just click.

Then, I'll be teaching a crochet class come September. I've been talked into trying it again. Some of you may remember I was asking for suggestions for a class project simple enough for a beginner, but something that's interesting at the same time. I found that project. Sally lent me Debbie Stoller's new book "Stitch and Bitch Crochet, The Happy Hooker". Excellent book, by the way. I'd recommend it to anyone (knitters included) who is interested in learning to crochet. I've been crocheting almost as long as I've been knitting and I learned a thing or two from Debbie's book.

Anyway, I digress. She has some really cute projects in this book and I've chosen this one as the crochet class project.

In the book, the pattern calls for one ball of Paton's Classic Wool. The second picture is the one I did first, to test the pattern. It's long enough to wrap once around my neck and still hang to the top of my hips. I've done three of them already, each of them in about two hours. Once crocheted, my students will be comfortable in working into the foundation chain and will be experts at working a double crochet.

I'm also working on another pattern from this book. This one is for the store.

I've had a cowboy hat before; I doubt I'd wear one again. I must admit, though, this one's cute. It's worked with a double strand of worsted weight cotton and a 6.0 mm crochet hook. I'm using Sugar 'n Cream in a dark green. The one thing I'm finding is that it's pretty hard on the wrist. A double strand of the cotton doesn't have much give. I can only work a maximum of two rounds at a time; then I have to work on something light or give myself a break of a few hours and massage my wrist.

Wow.. this is becoming a long post. I have more to tell you, plans for the fall, but I think I'll leave it for another day. For now, I have a pile of knitting related detritus to clean up (I've just been letting it all pile up in a corner of the dining room, books, yarn, needles.... time to tidy up).

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

I'm still here

I have not forgotten about you; with the heat and work, I've not had the energy or the time to sit up here in a hot bedroom. The last two days, we've had some amazing thunder storms, but again, with me working full days, it's a little hard to blog. That doesn't mean I have nothing to blog about.

I'll update later this week, with pictures and all.

Sunday, July 02, 2006


Yesterday was Canada Day. There were way too many boats on the lake. There were fireworks last night. Mediocre at best. The boats all went home, a veritable highway of little green lights on a black field, churning the water so much, I was afraid the dock might be loosened from it's mooring. I'll be happy when this weekend is over. Enough said.

I did do a little bit of knitting yesterday, but working with 100% wool when the thermometer is pushing 30C is not terribly comfortable so I put it away. Today's going to be hot again, so I probably won't be doing much knitting again.

I'll post pictures and details when I actually have energy again.