Sunday, September 30, 2012

More on the "Little Projects"

I will update you on the commission sweater soon, but meanwhile what else have I been doing?

I started some plain socks from the yarn I purchased in the U.P. As planned, I am doing them two-at-a-time.
I went ahead and bought a long Addi Turbo cable needle in the size I've done my last few socks in. I couldn't use my interchangeable cable set because the needles don't come that small in my set, none of the cables are long enough, and the cable join isn't nearly smooth enough. Plenty enough reason to buy a new needle! :)

I've been enjoying the needles and the "magic loop" method isn't bad either.

I was disappointed that the colours are just knitting into regular variegated stripes instead of the agate look that the wool label promised. Then I looked at the picture again:
The feet on these socks are just regular stripes too. There's hope for my "agate" socks yet.

Usually this would be a perfect project for taking out with me: simple, small, and no loose needles to lose. But instead of winding two balls from the two strands on the roll (which is a bit of a pain by yourself), I set it up so that the roll can spin and I can work on the strands at the same time.
No re-winding necessary! It's been working really well. And even if it's not quite as portable, I take it out with me anyway. They didn't wrap the yarn perfectly so although I had the two strands lining up perfectly for a while, a couple of double wraps of the yarn have made them slightly misaligned. That's alright though; it's close enough. And I still think it's fun to work them two-at-a-time.

I did quite a bit of work on these as I waited on word back from my sweater guy on the redesign we had to do. Now that that project is up and going again, I have put these to the side.

Another project that has been going like gang-busters is a brioche scarf. Last time I talked about it, it looked like this:
It was using too much yarn, so I started over with fewer stitches, larger needles and two colours. It's going really well. Here's the "blue side" where you can see the original yarn:

and here is the "green side" with the new green yarn:
It is a wool/cashmere blend and much softer than the 100% wool variegated yarn. I figure the nice soft cashmere can be worn against the skin, and that will leave the pretty blue wool to show on the outside. Should be very nice.

With the changes, it now looks like I will have plenty of yarn. I haven't even knit up all of the blue that I had to frog back and the scarf is about 22 inches long. No more worries there.

The brioche stitch was a little bit of a slow start. There are two main ways to do it--one with yarn overs, the other by knitting in the stitch below--and I had previously done it knitting into the stitch below. I got Nancy Marchant's brioche guide book from the library to read through. It is pretty much the bible of brioche stitch and she teaches the yarn over method so I thought I would give that a go.

I soon discovered that knitting continental is the way to go with all the moving of the yarn from front to back. Here let me show you the difference:

So the only thing I don't like about it is that I have to watch my knitting because it is done continental style (it's still not "automatic" for me) and because of all the yarn overs I have to make sure I catch. Other than that, I wish I could work on it all the time!! It's very compelling.

PS: If you want to see that Norwegian purl better, I did specific post about it (with video) here.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

New Blind

Our new kitchen has one window, so I want to be sure to do a good job of dressing it. During the construction process, I threw up a scrap piece of fabric. I folded it over at the right height, sewed a large casing and hung it off a tension rod. This gave us the privacy we needed, and it was a cheerful orange, but it wasn't overly pleasing. And, of course, by the end of the process, it was dirty, splattered with concrete, and just done.
By the time the cupboards were in, it just wasn't doing it for me. But it wasn't a priority while we were still putting the kitchen together. I told myself that when I got the tiling on the back splash done, I could reward myself with the new curtains.

I had bought some great fabric last time I was in Missouri visiting family.
I just love these "lollipop" trees and the printed bias stripe.

So when the tiling was done, I set to it. I made a darling little valance. It was lined. (I strongly feel all curtains should be lined--use the same lining for your whole house, and it won't looked so mismatched from outside. Plus the lining helps protect your fabric from UV damage.)
I also did a relatively large hem with the blind hem stitch. I know, it's the standard way to do curtains, nothing new here. But I am still amazed by the effect of a blind hem. Flat and perfect.
For the actual working part of the curtain, I bought a roller blind kit. Once I had the hardware all set, I sewed together a width big enough for the space. Before I actually finished, though, I taped the fabric to the roller with painter's tape and tried it out to make sure I liked it. (Once I fused the fabric to the backing, there would be no going back!)
So here was the final result:
I thought I would love it. But it's a good thing I tried it out, because it just wasn't right. Both my sister and my mom happened to visit while it was up, and while they both were polite, I could tell by their reactions that they agreed it just wasn't right. Although I'm using some bright colours as accents in the room, the yellow and pink tones of the fabric were completely wrong. The print size of the fabric and curtain design didn't seem to do much for the room either. :sigh:

So it was back to the drawing board, and now with a lot less confidence that I knew what was going to look good. But we had to have a curtain, so I had to press on.

Recently while shopping for something else, I noticed the decorator fabrics were on sale--as good a time as any to look around. What I settled on was quite different from my previous choice:
Both Mom and my sister mentioned blue would be a good choice since it was a dominant colour in the tiles, so that was part of what put me in this direction. I also like the geometric feel of all those circles.

It doesn't really set off the tile design by the stove, but I don't think it competes with it like the lollipop tree fabric did.
And with this heavy fabric, I skipped the valance. (Plus it blocked Troy's view out the window.) When the blind is up, you just see a couple inches of the fabric hanging down:
As a final observation, I will say that I couldn't have done this roller blind without the kit, but that doesn't mean I liked it!

1. The lining fabric was applied to the decorator fabric with an iron-on adhesive. Of course, it wouldn't stick to my fabric! I was ironing for more than 30 minutes and I'm still not sure I got it all secured.

2. There's a flat stick encased in the bottom hem of the blind. The kit gives you some 1/2" fusible tape to secure the hem. It was completely useless and I sewed the hem instead.

3. It was also one of those kits that told you to trim the sides to the right width without sewing a hem on the side. "If" your fabric raveled (as if it wouldn't), they suggested applying fray stop. I didn't even try that method, but turned over a 1/2" hem on each side and sewed it down before applying the lining fabric.

I guess "no sew," "so easy" or whatever you want to call it just doesn't suit my style. It doesn't make it easy when the adhesives don't work. It's lying to people to tell them they don't need to sew. They certainly won't get a good result!

Anyway, my blind is done, it works, and I am pretty happy with the result. (I think I may have to come up with a better "reward" for finishing the tile, however!!)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Hat for a Cowl with a Point

When I finished my Cowl with a Point, I had enough yarn that I decided to try and make a hat to match. I'd use the same stitch pattern, but convert it to a circle so I could make a tam-style hat. Then it was a race to see who would finish first--the hat or the yarn. Lucky for me the yarn outlasted the hat.

I started at the centre back with a little bit of I-cord, then increased out while repeating the pattern. I increased eight times in a round, and maybe I should not have lined up the increases because I ended up with wedges instead of a smooth circle. But it's pretty close to a circle.
When it seemed like it was big enough, I stopped increasing and started decreasing. If I wasn't worried about running out of yarn, I would have worked an inch or two straight with no shaping first.
Then when I had decreased enough that I thought it was the right size for the band, I cast on some more stitches and worked in the perpendicular direction, taking up a stitch of the hat on every other row. Working in perpendicular garter stitch is as good as using ribbing in most cases.
Project Stats
: 24 Jul '12
Finished: 1 Sep '12
Pattern: my own design
Materials: 35 g of Fleece Artist Blue Face Leicester Socks (Hercules, I think)
I was convinced the hat was way too small before blocking, but I decided to put it on a plate anyway (also known as "blocking") figuring that I had to know how big/small it really was before I could know how to change it. I had about 8 grams of yarn left over, so I did have enough to adjust the size some if needed.
But after blocking, I tried it on and decided that although the band is pretty snug, it isn't too tight. That sounds like a good recipe for keeping your hat on!
So I'm not going to change it at all. Now I can tuck my matching set away for a few months (weeks?) until cooler weather comes!

For those who are interested in making their own, here's what I did:

Cast on 3 stitches and do 3 rows of I-cord.
Incr 1 st and beginning working in round
Kfb across (8 sts)
Continue in garter increasing 8 sts evenly on every other row.
Garter for 4 ridges, then switch to eyelet pattern (continuing the increases on every other row):
Knit 2 rounds
(K2tog, YO) to end of round
Knit 2 rounds
Knit 2 rounds
Repeat from beginning for pattern.

Continue increases until third eyelet row, then start decreasing (8 times per round) on every other row until 64 sts remain.
Do one extra knit round, then start garter band, as follows:
Switch to smaller needles.
Provisionally cast on 8 stitches at EOR.
S1, K6, P2tog with one stitch of main hat.
S1 knitwise, K 7.
Repeat these two rows around hat.
Kitchener end to provisional cast on.

Send me a link if you make your own...I'd love to see it!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Filler Project (or, My Own Stitch n Pitch)

I mentioned in my last post that the commissioned sweater is soaking up all my knitting time at home. But that still means I need projects I can take with me.

I had either finished up or gotten stuck on several things and actually had nothing to bring to church last week. That's a long ride without any sticks in my hands!!

On Tuesday, the student worker at our office was singing the anthem at the local minor league baseball game, and the whole office was going. There was no way I was going to a baseball game without some knitting!

I looked at several skeins of sock yarn that I have but didn't really have time to search out a pattern. I had the yarn from the U.P. that is going to turn into plain socks, but I want to do them two-at-a-time with the magic loop "method." And I don't have a cable needle that will work for that. So I dove a little deeper, and came up with this yarn--two black and white balls and a red one from the same company:

As soon as I saw them at the Red Purl "Green Sale" last spring, I knew what they had to be (and that I had to do it)!

So I grabbed the yarn, grabbed my most used size of sock needles and was all set.

I had one person ask me if these were socks for an adult, so I will show you:
Yes, they fit my foot. I got as far as the paperclip that night during the game, and have done a little bit since then. Now I'm about at the point where I have to start the gusset. Then I have to figure out the heel. Even though my new favourite is a flap style, I think I'm going to have to do a short-row heel to make the red look right.

Meanwhile, I had a good time at the game. Impressed my boss with my baseball knowledge and he got to instruct me on what a "hit and run" was. He agreed when I said it should rightfully be called a run and hit, but that is not as catchy. And the anthem? It went great; she did a fantastic job!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

You Can't Afford Me.

That's my standard response when people ask me to make things for them. (You know, when you're knitting in public and they "joke" that you should make one for them, sometimes even if you've never met them before.)

In the same way, I have put off anyone who says that I should "make money" at knitting. They obviously have no idea how many hours go into a project and how cheap it is to get "something just like that" at Walmart.

Despite all this, last fall when the owner of the local knit shop had someone come in that wanted a sweater knit, she game me their name. I put it off for months (fall being my busy time), but at some point called and said we could talk in January when I had more time. I also named a ballpark price in our first conversation to see if that was a deal breaker. It was not.

Through one thing and another, our meeting was postponed until February. It turns out that she used to knit sweaters for her son (and others), but now her hands are not up to the task. For Christmas, she wanted to get her son a hand knit sweater, and I was going to be the one knitting it.

From there, she directed me to her son to ask him what kind of sweater he wanted. He was surprised by this and completely unprepared. We exchanged emails for six months to finalize a pattern. We did not find any ready-to-go pattern and worked on making one of our own. The process was both interesting and painful. I think I used up all my wages in email/design time and am making the sweater for free. But even with the price I named, I knew this would not really be a money maker. It was an experience I decided to try. A new sort of challenge.

The real problem with all this is that I am now committed to knitting a big sweater during my busiest season. I put them off last fall because I was too busy to even think straight, and here I am the next fall. Need I remind you I work for a haunted house? Busy time--it is now. (Although I try not to think about it, we open in less than two weeks.) Plus it's canning season. I could be doing a lot more with the garden right now.

Anyway, I do knit all year. I just have to do "thinking" knitting now, even when I come home fried from nine hours of go, go, go.

On the plus side, the client decided on an alpaca blend and it is quite lovely to work with. A little warm, but I'm not one to mind that too much. The first picture above is the swatch I did last spring and emailed the client pictures of. He didn't like it exactly, so we had to adjust from there. I finally got the go ahead on July 31st with our revisions and have been working on it quite a bit since.

So much so, that I have this much done---->
Unfortunately when I remeasured it, I found out the armhole is too large and I'm going to have to rip it about half way back. That means I redo all the colourwork. despair

There are a lot of long floats in this pattern, too. Tricky, yet I thought I was nailing them. But they will all disappear. sadness

So if it seems like I haven't been doing anything but little projects around here for a while, this is why. I have been saving myself for this big project that I kept thinking was next in line. Now it's here and taking all my knitting time at home. It's sometimes hard to get myself started on it, but once I get going, the colourwork  carries me along. Then I just have to stop myself from worrying that I'm making it the wrong size or that it won't fit in the end or any of the other million things I can worry about while making a sweater. (Just like my grandmother, who at one point told me she couldn't knit things for a particular person because she worried too much about whether it would fit and whether they would like it.) Send me good thoughts--I could use them!

May I suggest?

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