Sunday, March 27, 2011

Super Scarf!

It's a bird!

It's a plane!

I have finished my scarf for the Superbowl XLVI in Indianapolis. I was relieved to have enough yarn to make the center [striped] section long enough that the words were still visible even when the scarf is wrapped around the neck.
All I did for that section was 12 rows for each stripe. The stitch is K1 P1 ribbing which is offset every two rows. (In other words, each wrong side rows lines up with the previous row, but on each right side row you knit the purls and purl the knits.) I knit right up to the end of my blue. (In fact, I had to knit the last row with a smaller needle so that I had enough to be able to anchor the end!) And I had a couple meters of white left--that's it!!

Another thing that worked out was the shaped letters "XLVI." I graphed them with a curved bottom so that the 3" patch that the organizers are sewing onto all the scarves will fit under the letters. (ETA: actually, I've since learned that female inmates are sewing them on!) With a little help from Photoshop, I can show you that it should look something like:
I'm glad I found a way to make the patch belong instead of looking like it was slapped on later.

Project Stats
: 5 Feb '11
Finished: 20 Mar '11
Pattern: my own design
Materials: Alpaca with a Twist, special Superbowl blend, 2 skeins ($24)
I will remind you that I knit this scarf from the bottom up, doing each side separately. I started the stripes as soon as the letters were done and joined the two halves with a Kitchener stitch. Once I got to the striping, I actually knit both halves at once with the white going on one half and the blue on the other. This way I only had to count rows half as much: if one side was long enough the other side had to be too!

I started each half of the scarf with a two-colour version of a provisional cast on:
I'm very happy with how it came out. The blue and white stitches seem to just grow out of each other without a cast on getting in the way.

On the next pic I've drawn down the center of a few of the columns so you can see that the two layers end up being offset by a half stitch:
This doesn't really affect the final project, but it is a necessary piece of the puzzle if you want to understand how it works. If you don't really care how it works, but just want to see how to do it, try these two videos I have recorded for you.

Part 1: Getting Started.

Part 2: The First Row.

I hope that helps you get started on your next two-colour double knitted project! (And now that you know how to get started, that may be sooner than you would have thought!)

And since I couldn't put it on the scarf, I will say it here, "Go Colts!" Let's hope there are some NFL games played next season, and let's hope the Colts can pull off the never-done-before and play--and win!--the Superbowl in their home stadium!! Now that would be super!

Friday, March 25, 2011

That Wasn't So Bad!

My first March Mulligan is done! Woo hoo!

I finished this red plarn bag in January, 2009. After a couple years of service, a piece of the plastic failed and my handle started to ravel.
No need to panic...

I cut up another bag (one bag sufficed for this repair)

and started with a new strand of plarn in what is the top center of the hole in this picture:
I single crocheted to the side where the stitches were raveling and then chained a new chain to pull through the existing stitches. Then I continued the single crochet to where I started. Next I went around again with a slip stitch with a smaller needle to reinforce everything. All there was left to do was to work in the ends of the broken strand.

I then went around the other handle with a round of single crochet and then with a slip stitch even though it wasn't ripped (yet).
The second handle was quite stretched out and doing the repair on both made them match again. Plus I think they're both stronger now than they were originally.

My bag is slightly stretched out, but otherwise good as new again!

I am very happy to have it hanging with my other bags again (well, some of my other bags; I really do have a lot), ready to be useful.

When we put the coat rack in the entryway, I told Troy to leave part of the bar sticking out past the hanger for my bags. He finished it with a plastic cap and I have a perfect place to put all my bags.
Keeps them off the floor, and they are still very handy right by the door.

That makes one mulligan done; three more to go!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

March Mulligans

I am proposing a month of mulligans--do overs for some of my poor projects that need some help. Projects that didn't come out quite right, didn't work out right, or couldn't stand up to the abuse they were given.

Here are some projects I'm going to work on:
1. My Mariah sweater.

DONE! (Story here.)
2. Troy's Hat Fit for a Boyfriend.

DONE! (Story here.)
3. My Leaves Beret.
4. My red plarn bag.

DONE! (Story here.)

Whew...I think that's enough. Especially since the month is awfully close to over. (April might have to be my mulligan on March Mulligans.)

I've stated my goal here. Out loud. In public.
I'll start posting details when I tackle the projects.

How 'bout you? Got some things you'd like a mulligan on? Why don't you tackle them with me? Leave a comment and state your goal. Out loud. In public. I dare you.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Other Travel Project

You can never travel with just one project. (You wouldn't want to be stuck if you, totally hypothetically here, broke a needle or something.) In addition to the Hourglass socks, I also took along my Super Scarf.

We visited friends with children (2 boys about 5, and a boy about 3) the first weekend and they were totally intrigued with my knitting. (Ok, for completeness I'll tell you they also have a baby girl, but she couldn't care less about my knitting and doesn't feature in this story.) The boys were a bit skeptical at first that I was really making a scarf. The conversation went something like this:
3-yr old Ben: What are you making?
Me: A scarf.
B: No, you're not.
Me: Yes, I am.
B: No, you're not.
Me: Yes, I am.
B: No, you're not.
Me: Yes, I am.
B: No, you're not.
Me: Yes, I am.
B: A thoughtful silence.

The older boys were a little quicker to believe me and one of them (Andrew, in case you know them) started quizzing me on other things I had made. Did you ever make a shoe? Did you ever make a blanket? Did you ever make a chair? etc. I was surprised at how many yeses I could give to his questions and took that as a sign that he had a pretty good idea of what sorts of things a person could make.

At one point, I put my knitting away because I had made an error in the colours two rows back and had to go down and fix it. I didn't feel up to it with all the hustle and bustle going on. Ben asked what I was doing and I said I was taking a break. NO!! He was very insistent that I keep knitting. I think he has replaced David as my knitting coach. (Reference here.) Sorry, David, but he was really good; and dang, if I didn't pull it out a couple minutes later, fix the mistake and knit some more!

By Monday night, I had the first word done and had started the second side:

I had to re-graph the bottom letters ("XLVI") on the trip because I had originally graphed out XLV, which would have been correct for this year's Superbowl. Thankfully I realized my mistake before I knit it into infamy. The second reason was to make the letters curve around the place I am leaving for the patch they are going to sew onto all the scarves. (Probably so someone sneaky like me won't knit themselves a blue and white scarf and try to sneak into the Superbowl as a volunteer. Yeah, don't think I'm the only one who's considered it!!)
I asked in a couple places and eventually got an answer on Facebook on what size the patch is going to be. It should fit perfectly under the XLVI. Yeah!

I had been mostly knitting my sock, but once the needle broke I had no choice but to work on this scarf. Besides, I am getting a little anxious to have it done and sent off. Last night I finished the second set of letters:
Now I am working on the middle part which will join the two existing parts. I stopped double knitting and have started a textured stitch which I will stripe in blue and white.
This will keep me from running out of yarn too early (I hope) and make the scarf less bulky around the neck. It's going pretty well so I hope to finish soon!

We took a walk on Sunday and I did not knit while walking. For one, there was quite a drop off along the narrow path. And for two, Ben told me to "told his tand."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Worst Fear Realized

Whenever I make socks, I have to try on socks.

Whenever I try on socks, I leave the needles in the stitches. I try to put in as many needles as is practical (preferably five, but at least four) to minimize long straight lines and the resulting pressure on the needles. Every time I pull the sock over my heel, I wince inside thinking of all the force acting on my thin wooden needles.

But it has finally happened:
SNAP! Oh, I was very sad.

Especially as this is the size I only had four left (out of six). I am now knitting with three of the right size and one needle which is one size bigger. I don't think it'll make much difference.

I may, however, still "need" to stop in at the knit shop listed in the brochure...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Kentucky Check In

Yes, I am in Kentucky and having a good time. Not coincidentally, I'm working on some good driving/vacation knitting!

One project I brought along is socks I'm making with the wool I just got on my Ottawa trip. I'm doing the Hourglass pattern from I tried to get them going before I left (navigating doesn't always leave a lot of room for paying close attention to your knitting) but the first start was way too big. I went down a needle size and it was still too big. So when I restarted in the car, I took out a repeat of the pattern (10 stitches). I maybe should have gone up a needle size at the same time, but didn't think of it. Wool looks like it'll be fine.
Once again, red is nearly impossible to photograph, so you'll probably have to squint a little bit at that picture. As feared, the yarn is a little busy for the pattern, but I'm just going to go with it. I really like working with it and the colour is really pretty striking.

By the end of the evening, I had the heel turned and finished. Now I have to work the hourglass pattern all the way around the leg. I'm converting this sock from cuff-down to toe-up, so that is taking a little time as well. (Part of the time is simply recording what I did so I can repeat it on the second sock.) The design is completely reversible top to bottom so it is a pretty easy conversion.

We stayed at the lodge at Natural Bridge State Park last  night. Great views from the rooms. (Great park.)

I also have a new knitting bag I am trying out for this trip. I picked it up at Goodwill a couple weeks ago. The red handles are leather and it's still in good shape. It's also Etienne Aigner. That's some quality stuff!

It has three inside pockets: two on one side that each fit a piece of paper folded in half (perfect for patterns printed on my printer) and a zippered one on the other side for things you don't want floating around the bottom.

It's a nice size as it's not huge yet still holds my sock project and my Super scarf project comfortably. (More on that later.) And since it is a purse, I can easily carry it as a purse and not look like I'm carrying around a knitting bag. So far, it's getting a good grade!

All for now. Time to drive off to the next location!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Summit Conquered!

It's been a long long long trip getting this Summit done. It wasn't tedious or strenuous or even trying on my patience. I tackled this like you tackle a garden. All the work is not done in one day, or even one season. Everything in its time...

Enough Zen. By the time I decided this shawl was long enough (and it wasn't because I was sick of it, or because I was running out of wool; it just felt like it was time), I will admit I was only too happy to cast it off!

Neither the cast on nor the cast off are very pretty in this pattern. the designer insists on the backward loop cast on, and I can't figure out why. It's got to be the messiest one you could pick, and I haven't figured out why she thinks it's the only one that will do. But oh well, I'm not going to fuss about it.

The cast off was also a little different as you had to chain some loops to cross the gap where the yarn overs are. I either made mine too tight or I should have chained three stitches instead of two. She recommends puttingProject Stats
: 14 Aug '10
Finished: 26 Feb '11
Pattern: Summit by Mandie Harrington (free)
Materials: Fleece Artist Blue Face Leicester 2/8 in Smoke (free/trade)
the stitch on a crochet hook to chain two and then putting the stitch back on your knitting needle. How much better to do the chains with your knitting needle: Knit one stitch; slip it from the right needle to the left needle; repeat those two steps--BOOM two chain stitches. It's not the fastest chain stitching, but it's less awkward than getting out a crochet hook when the knitting needles are already in your hands.

When I was finally done casting off, I worried about how to block it. I have no sinks right now that would fit it! Then I realized I could use the washing machine as a really big sink, with the added bonus that the spin cycle would get the excess water out and produce the perfect wetness for blocking. Worked like a charm and I'm going to have to remember that quicker for other big projects! The other issue was the space to lay it out, but the judicial relocation of the couch took care of that.

I was dreading the blocking, I'll admit, because there were all those curves on the long edges. When I was bemoaning this to Troy, he did a quick calculation and pronounced that three pins to a curve would only require 108 pins. He thought I could manage that easily.

I decided to cheat a bit and just pass my blocking wires in and out twice at the apex of each curve. It's not perfectly perfect, but it worked. And I'm really not sure that after a little wear you'll be able to see any difference. Yeah, blocking wires!!

But enough of the details!! Let's have some pictures!
Hey, you!

You might call this style "over easy."

I thought maybe belted. (Celtic, Troy thought.)

Broken wings.

A surprise for me was that I could wear the shawl easily as a scarf. Nice double duty: I can wear it to somewhere, but then if I'm cold there I can wrap it around me. No need to carry something extra.

Thanks, Troy, for taking the pictures and for being so "directable." ;-)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Boot Cuff Socks

said I was close to done, and sure enough I was!

Friday evening and Saturday were spent at a retreat where I could do a lot of knitting. This project was still the right size and simplicity that I could do it with no problems.

I was glad when the speaker sat down beside me and introduced himself before we got started, and I had a chance to say that I hoped my knitting wouldn't offend him. No, no, he said. His wife is a knitter and he knows it helps her to be able to settle down and listen. He assumed it was the same for me. Very good!

By the end of the session on Saturday afternoon, I had the full length of the body knit and had prepared for the tubular cast off by knitting two rounds of "double knitting" (knitting the knit stitches of the 1x1 ribbing as the front layer and knitting the purl stitches as the back layer), and then literally separating the layers and putting them onto separate needles:
So you can see each "side" of the sock has two sets of stitches now. The next step is to Kitchener them together so they make a continuous tube. Here,
I am about half way around. The stitches on the right side of the picture have been "cast off" and I'm still making my way around to the stitches on the left. although the method does take more time, it is just so slick and perfectly functional that I'm going to have to consider how I can work it into everything I knit that needs a stretchy bind off.

Here is the final product:
The left 2 inches or so is that 1x1 cuff and the rest is 2x2 ribbing. There is a very smooth transition from the 2x2 to the 1x1 ribbing because I rearranged the knit stitches with twists (2-stitch cables) instead of just starting K1 P1 across a new round. After switching to smaller needles, I K1, left twist, P1 for one round. That set up all the stitches in a 1x1 rib for me.

I think you can see it here:
On the left, the knitting is stretched out so you can see the stitches better. In pair #1, the knit [red] and purl [green] stitches just continue as they were. In pair #2, the left twist reverses the order of the knit and purl stitches, with the knit stitch on top. Project Stats
: 13 Feb '11
Finished: 5 Mar '11
Pattern: personal design
Materials: Sandy's Crazy Quilt 2-ply, 124 grams, $31.50
(I do this by letting the knit stitch off the left needle and leaving it to the front, slipping the next stitch to the right needle, picking up the knit stitch with the left needle and slipping the purl stitch from the right needle back to the left needle. Now purl 1 and knit 1. I should also note that since my 2x2 ribbing starts with a K2, I started this round with the knit stitch of pair #1, not the purl.)

On the right, for comparison, the knitting is relaxed and you can hardly see the shift from 2x2 ribbing to 1x1 ribbing.

I had the foresight to weigh the ball before I got started and it weighed 124 grams. After the first sock, I had 64 grams left. Should be plenty for the next one right? (After all, that means I used 60 for the first one, and had more than 60 left for the second one.)

At some point during the retreat I noticed that it was going to be very, very close. This is how much I had left when I was done:
Phew!! I had a plan if I ran out by a little, but I was very glad to have enough!

I wore the boot socks out today and was very happy with them.

Here's a little peek of how long they are and how they fit into my boots:
If tomorrow's cold enough (as if it won't be) then I'll wear them as leg warmers and see how I like them like that.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Starting Again!

Lookie what I was up to last Sunday:
I used my ball winder to ravel the second boot cuff sock down to nothing. It worked pretty slick.

And after a week I am very close to finishing!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Last of the Travel Report...Getting and Giving

Before I even got my suitcase out of the van that had picked me up at the airport, I was buying yarn. My wise and understanding sister stopped off at her favourite yarn shop on our way to her house! We went to the Wool-Tyme which has been recently expanded.

And I can vouch that the store is very big!! and chock full of yarns!! They had a lot of of cottons and baby stuff that I was not into. And they had a lot of chunkies which were tempting but not the right thing for me right now.

They also had a bigger collection of Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend than I could have imagined. (This is what I used and loved for my Sahara sweater.) There were two variegated colours I came very close to bringing home, but I decided not to since I didn't have a project for them and then didn't really know how much to buy. And they didn't have a price for them posted with the yarn. That really irks me. And sometimes that is enough to not buy something.

Enough about what I did not buy! I did pick up a couple of skeins of sock yarn from Apple Laine.
It's called Apple Pie and I think it will be lovely!! The yarn is a blend: 65% Superwash Merino, 20% Kid Mohair, 10% Nylon, 5% Silk. It is very luxurious. It's a small company based near Russell, Ontario and their yarn is only carried in three stores (all in Canada). This is the type of yarn to buy on a trip!

Their website is the best I've seen for showing you what the hand painted yarns will look like when knitted up. My colour is here and the colour I first wanted is here. (They only had one skein in stock so I "made do" with the Arizona colour. I'm not complaining!)

Another thing I took home was a few skeins of wool that was leftover from a sweater my sister made for her MIL. I just took it because it should felt well. Maybe I'll feel like making a felted bag sometime.

Troy didn't really see how I could possibly use another bag. Maybe I don't need to have another bag, but I can imagine needing to make another bag. There is a difference.

I also took home some DK weight washable acrylic/nylon/wool blend that I will pass onto another sister who obsessively makes hats. She gives them as gifts and always makes a lot for the local library's charity drive.

Ok, so that's the "getting." How about the "giving?" In this case, that meant mostly advice and teaching. Both of my sisters there were curious about "that cast on" that I talked about on this blog. Even though both of them knit very competently, neither of them knew about the cable cast on. And, as you know, that is my favourite go-to cast on method. After a quick demonstration, they both had it. And decided they loved it too.

By the time I left, one had practised it quite a lot as she had cast on (and finished) four or five squares for an afghan she started with wool she bought at Wool-Tyme. (I love to increase knitting everywhere!)

That's all for this trip. Only two weeks til I go on another one!...

May I suggest?

I Say! or at least I did once...