Monday, February 27, 2006

Edgings, I need edgings!

I'll show you pretty pics of the crazy socks as soon as I get my notes in order. I got gleeful at the heel turn and kept on knitting the lovely gusset. I looked down at my notes to make sure I would know what to do for the next one and the page was blank. Yep, I was that excited, didn't pick up that pencil once, I was on a roll! So tonight I will do it again - with pencil this time.

A special note to all of you that have designed an article and created a pattern from it - more power to you!!! I love knowing exactly what steps I took but when the fire takes over, whooo, all thoughts of paper and pens seem to fly out the window. So to speak. There aren't really flying pens and paper out there, although that would be kinda cool too....anyway.....

That luscious stuff is the alpaca that I picked up to make a scarf for my friend Amanda. The project goal is lace practice and I picked out a couple of lace motifs that I would like to use. The problem is edgings. I don't know where to find examples or how to go about creating a knitted on edging so that the design will look finished. I need something without a lot of points, something simple in appearance, and workable in more of a fingering weight than cobwebbish. Love that word :) Any suggestions for resources? Beuller??

EDIT: Recommendations have included the following -
Knitting Lace by Barbara Abbey
Classic Knitted Cotton Edgings by Furze Hewitt (o.o.p.)
Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara Walker
Heirloom Knitting by Sharon Miller
Knitting on the Edge by Nicki Epstein
Lace from the Attic by Nancie Wiseman
Knitting Lace: A Workshop by Susanna E. Lewis (o.o.p.) by Sarah Bradbury
Knitting Counterpanes by Mary Walker-Phillips

Friday, February 24, 2006

A Quick Note

Interviewer: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself? hobbies, interests?
Me: Well, this past summer I wanted to knit a sweater
Interviewer: Oh? Did you buy a kit?
Me: No........I researched sheep
Interviewer: Ummm, sheep??
Me: Yeah, sheep. I couldn't keep a sheep because the homeowners association won't allow fencing. So I bought a fleece instead.
Interviewer: a fleece........
Me: Yeah......

While the content is true, I didn't actually say that in my interview. Maybe I should have, it does give an idea of how I approach things. I want to know how it all works, analyze it, experience it, and take from it and give to it the best that I can. Unfortunately, Texas came back with my being over qualified for what they have, but now that they have met me, I may get called back for future positions. I wonder what they would have said if I told them the sheep story?

Well, I have yet to design my first handspun sweater but I think I need a bit more study before I give it a go. I am currently back to my vest. I made up my charts for the armhole and neckline shaping so I'll be happily knitting away at that for awhile. I really like the graphic qualities of this design. Duplicating the chart and drawing out the shaping makes it very easy to follow with just a quick look. My row gauge is a little off compared to my swatch and I'm short, so it looks like I won't have the same number of pattern repeats as in the original pattern. I'm not sure but I think the change is just because I became more comfortable with knitting stranded so my tension relaxed ever so slightly.

I picked up a ball of an odd dyelot yarn for my MSFIFFAS socks by mistake so I took it back this afternoon. One of my favorite ladies at my lys said I can't wear the socks this year until I enter them in some knitting competition they are having. I got a pleasant chuckle out of that one!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Kepler Cables, Shetland Lace & my Calendar Girl

Kepler she is done, fini!

Knit, seamed, woven ends, washed, blocked and dried! Whew, that took forever. My first cables, first charts and actually my first sweater. The knitting was quick, the only reason it took forever is because it is actually such a dark blue it is near black and the seaming made me blind! I did find that if I only worked on the seaming for a few minutes at a time, early in the day and with natural light, I could work on it with ease. Other than that it was a LOT of eye strain. So it spent a lot of time staring at me from the knitting basket begging for it's day of glory and here it is!! It is a nice sweater and a flattering style. The sleeves are set in and those seams are nice and smooth. The yarn is Rowanspun Aran in Midnight which washed up very nice and bloomed enough to soften it up a bit. The pattern is free from Emily at Fathom Harvill. It is well written and very easy to follow.

I've also been working on testing out some lace weight shetland. The fleece is from a very sweet sheep named Mariah that I had the pleasure of meeting last summer. I love her moorit coloring even though I don't really wear browns. I spun it two ply and definitely achieved a lighter weight than the fingering weight used as comparison in the photo. The issue I'm having is that there is so much loft and a little fluff that it seems much thicker than it actually is. I spun it woolen with a long-draw after preparing the wool with hand cards. I am interested in seeing how the loft works in the knitted lace fabric. I just did about 70 yards for a sampler. I'll knit it up for a test to see what kind of adjustments I want to make for spinning the rest of it. This handspun shetland from Michigan sheep is softer than the fingering weight shetland from Shetland island. Part of the appeal is also in the memories of meeting the flock and a great day with Leslie and Terri at Grace Farm. With all that is going on hand carding everything is taking too much time to get a whole lot done, I can't wait to get a drum carder :)

And last but not least, Kya, my "Calendar Girl". She's a retired racing greyhound from Daytona Beach and starred in the 2006 Greyhound Pets of America-Daytona calendar. She's almost 4 and spent all of her life on a race track until last June. The tricky thing with track dogs is that they aren't exposed to any normal day to day life so everything is new and can make them skittish. I do my best with my girls and foster dogs to show them as much as possible of their new world so they can make the transition from track to family easier. Kya was my third greyhound foster and became Lily's "sister". Lily was my first rescue and has helped me help 28 foster dogs since. Kya hates the cold but loves slippery snow :) She will fit in great if we go to Texas. Speaking of Texas, I think the whole interview process went well but as I've mentioned to some of you, it was such a whirlwind I'm not even sure what happened anymore! I hope to hear something soon, very soon, like hopefully tomorrow. This waiting thing is not the fun part.......ahhh well, back to packing, pooches and fiber.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

I'm Back!

This may be a bit confusing because I ran out of time getting ready and never posted the "I'll be gone" post. But I was gone, and now I'm back. I took that trip to Austin, TX for the job interviews I was telling you about. I left my house Thursday at 12:30pm and with no direct flights, flew in to Houston, caught a connecting flight, picked up a rental car and made it to my hotel in Austin at 10pm. Spent the next hour in search of food since everything I could find closed at 10pm. Finally hauled my find back to the hotel, ate voraciously and got to bed by midnight. Up Friday at 6am, began a series of 9 interviews starting at 9am, added 2 more for a total of 11 interviews by 3:30pm, race back to the airport, turn in rental car, fly out to Dallas to catch a connecting flight, land in Michigan at 12:30am, at a different terminal than I left from and spend the next hour trying to get to my car. Airports are ghost towns in the middle of the night, even on Fridays. Finally make it home at 2:30am to be greeted by 2 loving pooches that exploded in glee at my return and we all collapsed into sleep by 3:30am. What a whirlwind. I am still tired.

The loving pooches spent the night at "grandma's" house and she was kind enough to bring them home so they would be here when I got back, very sweet!! This is the first time the greyhound, Kya, has been separated from me for more than a day since leaving the racetrack in June. She was scared and skittish at her sleep over, but mom tried to help her out. I need to do some more work with her to help build up her confidence in my absence. She is such a sweetheart even if a bit shy.

"Grandma" on the other hand loved her scarf! It is very flattering on her and I hope she enjoys it for many chilly days to come. It was my first design effort and I am very pleased that she likes it.

IT all minimum. a to progress the kept exhaustion and turbulance but MS-FIFFAS of cuff sock second on decent some make could I thought be. not was this me, is woe knitting for great be would time travel that seemI also attempted to turn the heel on the first sock. I think I have the concept down of how to do this two stranded but my first attempt at execution was less than desirable. Getting the tight shaping and even stitches on the heel is the current hurdle.

Now to catch up on what everyone else is up to and cheer on some of the Knitting Olympics stars!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Finish Lines and False Starts

First Finish:
I did finish my Jaywalker socks. They give two sizes and I knit the smallest one but they are a little loose. The original cast on is 76 stitches and 7 stitches between each increase and decrease. I think I can get away with 68 stitches, and reduce it to 6 stitches between the increases/decreases, I will try that next time. I will also eliminate the cuff ribbing and just start them in pattern to eliminate a slight bubble that occurs when switching. The pattern stitch really does keep them up. Overall these are great socks. The simple rhythm of the increases and decreases go much faster and enjoyably than pure stockinette but there are wide stretches of stockinette that could show off numerous types of yarn. They knit up extremely quickly because of the rhythm and because you can grab them and throw in another row anytime, anywhere. I enjoyed them.

Second Finish:
Mom's Mosaic and Cables scarf is finished, washed and blocked. I love it and it is very soft indeed. The Queensland Katmandu has a lovely finished drape that was perfect for this project. I wouldn't think it would be as nice for tight cables but it works beautifully for the eccentric cable pattern here. I can't wait to give it to her, she will be quite happy. It is one I will do again even though that surprises me since juggling 3 balls of yarn was a bit tangle-y. The mosaic stitches and cabling give it body that holds it up against your neck and face to block even the worst winter winds and I think it looks great. I want one :)

False Start:
The heel flap on the MS-FIFFAS is knit flat back and forth so I have had the opportunity to use stranded purling more than just for the corrugated ribbing. I was paying so much attention to making sure my tension was consistent and my floats were good that I oops'd and forgot to read the pattern backwards as well. So that row has got to go and I have my first frogging on the MS-FIFFAS and a false start on the heel flap. I will begin again later when I can pay more attention.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

MS-FIFFAS - First Installment

Meg Swanson's Fair Isle Form Fitted Arch Socks - they need a simpler name don't they?

I am a little obsessive about these right now. The pattern for them is in the back of Meg Swanson's Knitting. The book includes 4 different socks. The instructions are written for an Aran sock that uses gansey weight wool at a gauge of 6.5 stitches per inch. The instructions for the two color socks use 4ply or lace weight but a new gauge isn't listed, it advises you to follow the guidelines for the Aran sock. The 6.5 spi just didn't seem appropriate for a lighter weight yarn so I am making modifications to accommodate my gauge on my favorite sock needles. Part of the instructions also include directions to 'make decisions on the color stripes when you get there'. I will be posting a few blog entries with the results of my adventures with these. I anticipate that there may be more than one attempt to get them right so enjoy following along or skip as you see fit. The part that makes these so different from any other fair isle socks I have seen is the way the arch is shaped. So far I am still working on getting to that part. This is also my first fair isle sock so I may not be too quick to start with.


  1. Pattern is for knee socks - first modification is to make them ankle socks. I prefer a 5 to 6 inch cuff prior to working the heel stitches.
  2. My gauge is 9.75 stitches per inch in pattern on Addi Turbo size 1's. I have asked many people about what they prefer for knitting fair isle and the one consensus I have found is that they prefer what they are comfortable with. I love knitting socks with my Addi's. I love my slippery needles, they work for me. Use what works for you - knit happy!
  3. Yarn used is Heirloom Baby Wool. This stuff knits like a fair isle dream. It is 100% new wool and does not have nylon content. It has good body, stretch and is oh so very soft. It is comparable to Dale Baby Ull I believe.
  4. I recently knit the Jaywalker sock pattern which calls for a 76 stitch cast on and relies on negative ease. They were loose on me through the foot. I use 68 stitches for the foot in stockinette stitch for a gauge of 10 stitches per inch and they fit ok but would be ok a little snugger. For the sake of this adventure, using these statistics as references, I decided to allow for a variance of negative ease equal to 1/4th-1/8th inch per inch. I like snug socks.
  5. Top of cuff - 11 inches, Mid-Cuff - 9.25 inches, Ankle - 8.75 inches, Arch to Heel - 11 inches, Arch - 8 inches, Toes - 7.5 inches, Foot Length - 8.5 inches

Accomplished to date:

  1. First draft of measurements adjusted to .75 per inch and stitch calculations to use as guidelines. Stitch counts adjusted up to meet pattern requirements.

  2. Cast on 76 stitches and worked 1x1 corrugated ribbing for 10 rows. I used the long tail cast on out of habit and read recently that using the German Twisted cast on will prevent the corrugated ribbing from curling. I will use that one next time.
  3. Knitting right side out, one color in each hand.
  4. Worked one pattern repeat on the 76 stitches maintaining a gauge of 9.75 stitches per inch.
  5. I'm getting approximately 1/4th to 1/3rd inches of horizontal stretch per inch in pattern. This is accomodating the maximum stretch point across the ankle/heel of 11 inches.
  6. Decreased in pattern to 72 stiches for Mid Ankle measurement.
  7. Worked 10 rows in second pattern repeat.
  8. Decreased in pattern to 68 stitches for Ankle measurement.
  9. Worked 10 rows in pattern but modifying it to branch into the heel pattern and gusset stripes.
  10. Rearranged the stitches on the needles to divide for the heel stitches. The pattern does not split evenly so I have split it 33-35, working the heel on 33 stitches.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

You never call, you never write.........

I apologize to everyone that commented on that last post, for some reason Haloscan didn't send the comments to me. You had great comments too so I will acknowledge them here.

First off, thank you so much for the compliments. I'm glad to hear a lot of you like that yarn as much as I do. I even took her to meet one of my favorite ladies at the local yarn shop today who thought she was quite lovely. Actually I just took it with me to compare it to different colors based on your suggestions. It did not contrast well with natural colors but looked good with a bright cream or white but they had to be bright and clear. On the darker end of the spectrum, deep blue and forest green were very flattering but they didn't have the perfect shade. I may spin up a little in the forest green for accents to go with this yarn but I decided to stick with solid colors for the Form-Fitted Arch socks to get the highest contrast.

I don't know about you, but I have one heck of a time finding solid color sock yarn locally. I need to stash a few colors of Naturespun or something to cut down on the insanity that ensues when I think I'm not going to find anything. Lucky me, my favorite yarn shop has a punch card they credit all year and give you store cash to spend in the beginning of February. I managed to find a few goodies and it was like they were giving me presents. Like yarn isn't presents already I know, but free yarn that you get to pick?? Sweet! So I ended up with Heirloom baby wool in periwinkle and bright white. That should do Meg's sock patterns justice! Now I just have to finish the Jaywalkers and get started.

I picked up the stitch holders I needed to continue with Rosemarkie. All of my stitch holders apparently went on vacation because I couldn't find one anywhere. Or maybe they were just hiding? Either way, I can now do the armhole and neck steeks. I will start those tomorrow.

I also picked up some luscious prime alpaca for a lacy scarf for one of my girlfriends. She absolutely loves alpaca so I thought I would make her something out of it. She is always doing things to spoil us (me and the 'girls') rotten and I do my best to reciprocate. She even gave the girls their own huge jars of peanut butter and treats for the holidays. Obviously she is worth it. I don't have a pattern selected yet and I haven't decided when I want to start it. The yarn is approximately fingering to sport weight, 3 ply pure alpaca and approximately 650 yards. I want it to be lacy or textured, something with a really nice stitch pattern but not too delicate. I have to finish the Mosaic and Cables scarf for Mom and then I can start plotting a pattern.

And last but not least I grabbed a back issue of Interweave Knits with some patterns I love and a flyer for a workshop with Beth Brown-Reinsel that I would be estatic if I could attend and still get the job in Texas. Speaking of that job in Texas, I had the second phone interview and am waiting for the phone call to tell me what day I fly in. And I'm now prepared with knitting so I'm all set.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Purple.........and green, again

It never seems to fail - add a dose of something purple in my life and I have to balance it with something green. Since the Jaywalker socks are turning out purple, I made green yarn. It's hand dyed roving in several shades of green from an evergreen to chartreuse. I spun this one up with the intention of using it for socks so it is pretty high twist and quite elastic but balanced - but it won't split when knitting. It is approximately sport weight, a smidge over 100grams and 325 yards. I have been considering using it for the Form-Fitted Arch socks with natural as the other color or something like a deep blue. I'm not sure if it is subtle enough and it may detract from the color work, which I don't want to do. I was hoping for a soft variation like you get with a heathered yarn combined with a solid. I have such a hard time just using plain solid color yarns but I love heathered shades. And socks from handspun can't be beat.

Another option I am considering is handspun shetland in moorit and cream. Or I have a gift card to the LYS and I could get merino in solid colors. Any thoughts? I know I am overthinking it just because I'm hoping for something that can stand up to a bit of frogging if it becomes necessary while I'm trying to work out the fit.