Saturday, June 25, 2011

What do you mean it's not the same?

When I last wrote about my Making Waves cardigan, I was finished the body and waiting for my new Harmony dpns in the right size to start the sleeves. The needles arrived in good time...and then sat around waiting to be opened. (Troy almost couldn't stand seeing that unopened package day after day, but I knew what was in it and wasn't ready to tackle the sleeves yet.)

When I was ready, I moved the stitches from the waste yarn to the new needles and started stitching. The needles didn't feel right though; they felt too fat. I measured them in my needle gauge to check them against the needles I had been using for the body, and they matched. So I soldiered on. After about 3 inches, I couldn't ignore it anymore.

I got out my gauge ruler and measured about 7 sts/in on the top portion of the sleeve and only about 5 sts/in on the new portion. Gah!! That was not going to work. So I ripped back to the beginning of the sleeve and conservatively chose to work with one size smaller needle. Of course, that was one I already had and this meant I hadn't needed to buy a new set!

After only about an inch with that size, I could see that I was still getting too loose a gauge. So I went down another size. This one was "just right" as Goldilocks says and I marched on down that sleeve like nobody's business:
Things are quicker when it's only a 3/4 length sleeve! Here is a view of the ruching at the cuff:
I'm not sure it has enough gathers so I may try adding even more stitches for the front trim. We'll see.

I did cast off "firmly" as instructed by the pattern, but it was too tight to sit comfortably on my arm. I undid and tried again, and I think I found a good balance. The designer made the point that if you cast off too loosely, the ruching isn't drawn in on the outside edge and you get something more like a ruffle. (Could be nice, but not what we're going for here.)

After the first sleeve was done, I let the poor project languish around for a few more days. I finally got started on the second sleeve on Wednesday. I was so happy to have all the figuring of the needle size behind me so I could just knit and knit without thinking. I got between 1 to 2 inches done:
Can you make out the problem?
Ya, for some reason the gauge is way too small.
Can you see how it pulls in about an inch below the needles?

I don't ever have trouble with my tension. It's smooth and even. (That's assuming I'm throwing like I'm used to. If I'm picking, all bets are off!) I have never measured a difference between my tension knitting back and forth or knitting in the round. Usually I can just pick up the needles recommended by the pattern and go.

And now I can't even get the same result doing the same thing twice. Frustrating. I have read that your tension can change from the beginning of a garment to the end if it is a complicated stitch pattern because as you get used to it, you are able to do it more handily. (Knitting a large swatch will ameliorate this.) But this is bloody stocking stitch!!

Nothing to do right now but take it out and try the larger needles (after I moan and groan a little here, of course). I'm jumping up two sizes to the new ones I bought, however. It would be nice to be able to put them to use.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Red Stole Redux

I've been wanting to touch base here, but I don't feel like I have a lot to report. Such is the bane of working on large projects! (Never mind that I'm keeping one of them secret. And it really is taking a lot of my time.)

I can say that my red triangle stole is going much better since I ripped it back and refigured it.

Here is the old version of the stole:
You can see how after the initial shape (on the left), the whole things pulls in severely. That was the problem. The new one:
is so much better. But of course, with almost 50 percent more stitches, it is going slower.

Here is a view of the piece spread out: (just to remind you, I will be cutting it down the middle to form the left and right sides)
You can see the triangle shapes here, I trust, and I captured where the yarn is transitioning from one colour to the next. You can see the right side triangle was done first because the lower part of it still matches the previous triangle pretty closely. After the right one, the left one was knit, and you can see how much more it contrasts with the previous one on that side.

For you knitters out there who are wondering how I adapted this scarf pattern to a two-sides-at-a-time stole, here is an overview:

1. The fabric--essentially two scarves knit side by side at the same time:

2. Here I will outline the triangle shapes so they are very obvious:

3. The yellow lines demonstrate the direction of the knitting on each triangle:

4. After the initial shape is done (a modified bias square that I think I talked about in my first post), you begin the alternating triangles:
Starting at the bottom of the picture, I am knitting across both centre triangles as demonstrated by the lower yellow lines. There is an increase at each green dot which is what makes the knitting flare out and form the triangle, and the steek stitches are between the increases. When the last row is done (top yellow line), I start one of the side triangles.

Starting at the left lower blue lines, I again increase at the green dots. When that triangle is done, I swoop all the way down, across the steek stitches in the centre and to the beginning of the second (right) side triangle. Again I knit following the lower blue lines (this time on the right), increasing at green dots.

Once that side triangle is done, I am back at the center and can begin again. Easy, peasy, right?

One thing this project has going for it is that it is easy to pick up and put down. I've done quite a few sessions waiting in the drive through line!

I still have not worked through all the yarn that I raveled from the first try, but I'm getting there. Whenever I have to rip something back, I always feel a little unsettled until I've knit up all the raveled yarn again. Usually this makes me work on something long past when I should be doing something else, but in this case it was so much that I had to admit it was not going to happen in one sitting!

Friday, June 17, 2011


My socks are found!!

I hadn't stashed them in one of my many bags; I stashed them in one of my many containers.

It will only take me about 30 minutes to finish them (maybe 60 with the additional time it takes to make the video). I hope to get to that soon. Yeah! (They've only been sitting around waiting for weeks and weeks.)

These socks have produced their fair share of drama. Here are my Ravelry notes to summarize:

3/14 Gotta love vacation knitting. I turned the heel of the first sock. Lots of redesigning going on here...
3/22 Did I mention that I broke a needle on vacation last week and this project is now full-on stopped? Grrr. Oh, yeah, and all that redesigning? I left my pattern with all my notes at the restaurant at breakfast. Double grrr.
3/25 Got my new needles and am making progress again. This colourway is definitely too "lively" for the pattern but I'm going to tell myself that I don't mind.
4/1 I tried the Turkish (tubular) cast off for these socks and it completely did not work. The set up rows were way too tight. I improvised a new cast on (at least I don't think I've seen it anywhere else) and it worked great. I separated the stitches onto two needles--knits to the front, purls to the back--and then Kitchenered them together. Looks great; works great. Woo hoo!
4/3 Started second sock
6/7 I would like to finish these as I only need to cast off the second sock. They've been waiting for weeks. I can't find them. :(
6/17 I found them!! Should finish them soon now.
It's the "new" cast off that I hope to record on video and share on my "socks-are-finished" post.

Until then, keep your needles clicking!

P.S. My secret project is moving along nicely which is why I feel I have a little time to bob my head up for air and possibly work on something else like these socks!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

First Swap

I can finally share with you a project I did back in April.

On March 31st, I signed up for a "mug rug" swap in the quilters group on Ravelry. (What's a mug rug? It's a little placemat-like object to be used as a combination coaster and plate for a drink and snack.)

This was my first ever swap! I was excited. I thought the project was just the right size and commitment for me (small) and was also a good object to receive--no worries if it doesn't match or you're really not that crazy about it. (You may call me a cynic or a pessimist but I do worry about these types of things.)

Actually a bigger problem is that I don't drink or snack much while crafting, but I wasn't going to let that stop me from participating.

Anyway, when I saw the idea being floated, I jumped on the band wagon, and it's a good thing because it filled up fast! (Fast enough they had a 2nd and 3rd chance swap going in short order.)

The rules: make a quilted mug rug and send it soon enough to be received by June 1st.
The organizer matched people up, and for the most part you didn't receive from the same person you sent to. And, of course, it was a secret so it was all hush hush until the package arrived!

There was a thread for progress reports so people could share how they were doing and one person was done on April 5, only days after the signups closed! Most people posted pictures of the mug rugs that they received and it really was a marvel at the variety. So many lovely ideas!

and so many more...  There were 30 people in the swap, I think.

I finished my mug rug about the middle of April and finally got it mailed the day after Easter. I made a free form rose, of sorts, with a side panel in the "focus fabric."
and quilted it in parallel lines that followed the shape of the side panel.

The back was made of strips of the fabrics from the front and I signed it in marker:

I even had the perfect mug to model it with:
I was excited to finally send it off...but then it wasn't acknowledged in the thread for about a month. That took some of the shine off, unfortunately. On the up side, the recipient seemed to really like it and that is the main thing.

I patiently waited for my own mug rug and heard on the day of the deadline that it would be late. I waited patiently some more and yesterday received my mug rug: (It actually had been so long that when the package came, I assumed it was something my husband ordered and gave it to him. He was surprised to open "his" package and see a mini-quilt!)

You can see it's in the very colours that I did mine in!! (And she didn't see mine because the recipient didn't post pictures.) Perhaps she was spying on my projects and saw that I liked red. Or maybe she just got lucky. Or maybe we're both riding the same trend right now. In any case, I really like the bold colours and sharp contrasts.

She also sent along a nice selection of teas (I did specify that I drank tea over coffee).

She also chose to piece her back. I really like that trend.
Although I'd have to admit that I will only cautiously commit to another swap, this was fun. I enjoyed making my mug rug, and I very much appreciate the mug rug I got!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Where are You?

I would like to write a post but I'm awfully busy with a semi-secret project. (I'm still deciding how much I can share with you.)

I have a post I can share with you written in my head, but I need to make a video to go with it of my orange Hourglass socks.

I can't find the socks. I can't find them anywhere.

Please think some positive thoughts about me finding my socks. I would really like to know where I put them. I am out of possibilities.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Project Spectrum: May into June

The first month of Project Spectrum 5 has ended. May was the month to explore the colour red. I don't need any extra encouragement in that. (I thought about photographing just my red shoes, let alone the rest of my wardrobe, but decided against it. Off the top of my head, though, I could think of six pairs...and that's before I started digging!)

To my surprise, I did not see a lot of red in my daily life. No red front doors I hadn't noticed before. No surprise of red flowers in the ditch. I don't know...whatever I was expecting didn't happen. But I brought some red into my life.

I started the Making Waves Cardigan and got the body done. (It's now waiting for sleeves.)

I started a stole out of my slow colour changing Evilla Artyarn 8/2 wool.

I also captured a few flowers that did catch my attention.

Here is my May collage [click to enbiggen]:

Clockwise from top left: the first blossoms we've ever gotten on our peach trees!; trying on Making Waves; fuchsia buds at my BIL's family nursery; a "surprise" tulip in the yard that a squirrel must have planted; early bday present from my sister--a brooch and earrings in fire engine red enamel; Evilla Artyarn wool for my triangles stole.

June is a month of green. I don't have plans to start any new knitting projects but maybe a little sewing/quilting will find its way in and I just may use this as an excuse to finally fix my poor neglected Leaf Beret.

Here's collage of pictures I found in my archives to celebrate the many shades of green [click to enbiggen]:
From left to right and top to bottom: Pine bough in Kentucky; Leaves Beret; vintage thermometer; various threads; Texas Cactus Apple; Troy's sprig green soap; Outside In socks; necklace of green stones; palm tree, Dominican Republic.

May I suggest?

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