Wednesday, March 28, 2007


ADD Knitter on the loose

This is what happens when I get bored with monotone projects and have read too many Fair Isle blogs.......I crave colors like some people crave chocolate or Cracksilk Haze and I get a little cranky until I get my fix. The next band would pull out the greens and periwinkle-ish shade but I thought I should pause to assess. The stitch patterns aren't set, more placeholders for working out concepts and colorways. So what do you think? Interesting? Yay? Nay? Meh?

I used to paint my house. I could do that a lot faster than I can knit.

Monday, March 26, 2007

It's all in the tension.....

I had some interesting realizations this past week. It started out fairly ordinary as I succumbed to the influences of blogland and an overwhelming need to cast on another pair of socks. Not just any socks, I wanted spring socks and I really, really wanted to try and tackle a pair toe up. All of my other socks have been top down and I've refined that process to produce a perfect fit, something I have been loathe to stray from. So with some inspiration from Amy, I dyed up some sock yarn in colors that make me feel the whispers of spring. And with further inspiration from Brigitte and Wendy, I decided to try Wendy's standard toe up sock pattern.

Now, Wendy knits socks on Size 0 needles, same as me, so I didn't really pay more attention than that, I just dove in to try this toe swatch. Reading the pattern for the toe explained nothing to me. I had no idea how this was going to make a toe and had to blindly follow the instructions exactly to finally gain the understanding on how casting on 32 stitches was going to work. The whole time the little voice in my head is whimpering "but I don't want my toe that wide!" I got quite the laugh when I realized how the short rows were actually working and that that measurement was for half the foot, not the toe tip! That's when I realized what was wrong. 32x2 = 64 - that's a little bit tiny for a foot. Does Wendy have really skinny feet? probably not.....ummm, gauge, what's the gauge? 8spi???? I get 10spi on 0's, how is she getting EIGHT??

Then another little voice brings a tid bit of information to the forefront from something I read recently where the Knitter/Author stated something to the effect of "don't mess around changing needle sizes, any good knitter can get several different gauges from the same needles just by adjusting their tension." I swore this was AS but she mentions changing needle sizes for gauge often so I don't know where it came from. But the gist of it was, I realized I'm a rather snug knitter. I don't knit tightly, have a very relaxed grip on the needles, don't even bend aluminum 00's, haven't had any difficulties getting my needle into stitches, so I never gave it any thought. But there it was.

So I took this realization and played with it. By adjusting my tension ever so slightly while working on the Queen, I think I have achieved what I needed to get those floats to behave properly. Now I have to get a few more inches done to see if my theory is holding.

As for the socks, I'm going to try the same on the other toe. I think it will make the short row stitches lay nicer. If it does, I'll frog this one and make it match. This one is a little wonky anyway - somehow I got the short row wraps on one side fine, but on the other side, they are showing inside instead of outside. Not sure what happened there but Wendy's instructions are great and I'm having fun learning a new technique. And the yarn is pretty :)

ETA: Marina pointed out that the tension quote I was looking for was indeed AS, although she stated it a bit more eloquently, on her FAQ's page on the VY website.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

A little update

Chart rows = 47.
A little bit of progress on Ambassador. I'm liking the sweater much better than the graphic. It amazes me what happens when you start out with the traditional shetland Fair Isle X's and O's and just kind of stretch it from there. Can you see them all now? Lots and lots of little x's and o's. And only a few hundred more rows to go!

It is actually quite satisfying to knit a pattern I enjoy in only two colors. It will also work very well with my professional wardrobe which means it will get alot of wear. I think it would look equally cool in foreground and background shadings but at this time, I wanted to focus more on the actual blueprint of sweater design. If I do another one, I can play in the color box to my hearts content :)

And for Marina, the side shot results of the pattern placed the "Norwegien Way". Not bad, and definitely worth it to get the sizing I needed. Thank you very much for the information.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Ambassador to the Queen

I want to thank everyone for your support and suggestions for overcoming the challenges of the Queen. All have been very helpful and you will see them in practice as I get further along. As of now, I have managed to start the re-steeking for the smaller size and begin the armhole steeks and the neckline shaping. Not enough for a photo update but I am making progress.

There was a scary scary moment as I was knitting away and heard way too much clattering and clanging coming from the kitchen. I jumped up to check out what Mr. Puppy (he's almost 80lbs - he gets a Mr. ;) was up to. As I was picking up the coffee pot he knocked over in his curiousity and then walked back around the corner to the living room, my heart dropped to the floor and I uttered some unintelligible shriek as I saw him sail away with the Fortunate for me, whatever that scary noise was that I made, he dropped the sweater and she suffered just a hint of puppy slober and broken skein yarns. WHEW!! My oh my is he quick! I now keep the locking tub next to my knitting spot - that subterfuge is not going to work on me twice, uh huh! Mama's got your number Mr. Puppy!

Knitting on the Queen is being reserved for the weekend knitting and I decided I could play with other things during the week. So I put in a few rows on Ambassador this week too. Much less eye-crossing in knit. The true patterning won't show fully until I get at least a couple repeats in. See, I'm really good with the short floats - not a single ripple. Very refreshing :)

Monday, March 12, 2007

Royal Challenges of Anne Boleyn - "The Queen"

As most of you that stop by my blog are well aware, I am not a very experienced knitter. I'm talking the experience you aquire in doing something more than once and more than one way which gives you a bit of foreknowledge on how things will turn out. I am a rather ambitious knitter and trying things a bit beyond, or sometimes a lot beyond, my perceived skill set appeals to me often. Knowing this aspect of my personality, I have also learned to accept that I will frequently make some really significant mistakes that often have no recourse other than to start over. This is the stage that I had been at with Anne Boleyn and why I sent her off to the tower for an extended stay. So this weekend I had to see if she could be reconciled with or if it was a case as Lorraine put it "Off with her head"!

The Tussled Queen:

The Royal Challenges I faced with this sweater are as follows:

1. Long floats with short anchors - Some of the floats in this design are 16 stitches with 1 stitch between so 16-1-16. Most rows have floats of 9 or more. My comfort zone was floats of 9 or less, and not lots of 'em.

2. The knitted fabric appears rumpled - Most of the pretty pictures all over the net of stranded colorwork in progress all lay perfectly flat like beautiful fabric. The Queen was looking like she had been slept in, or slept with as the case may be. The dread that my floats may be too tight and that the sweater would never lay flat kept me in a state of anxiety when working on it. If it was wrong, I wanted to fix it *before* I continued to further the mistake. For the life of me, I still haven't figured out what I need to do differently.

3. Frustrating Needles - I know, I have so many needle issues. In this case, I was using Inox which have that bend where the needle meets the cable. I always end up with this bend going against the curve and feel like my knitting is all tangled up.

4. Long Charts - the pattern repeats are 48 and 60 stitches. I was finding it very difficult to remember the row and it is tough to figure out where I am at by reading my knitting in this particular design.

5. Size - Probably the most common beginner error. I went by the "To Fit" measurement and not the actual garment dimensions. My prior sweater worked out perfectly by the "To Fit" chart but this one will give me a cardigan with over 8 inches of ease. That's like super baggy sweatshirt ease, not elegant cardigan ease!

The Primped Queen:

And my solutions:

1. Practice - I worked on Alba and Ambassador for more experience and improved my confidence a lot. These floats are now easier to execute, although not perfectly flat.

2. I drowned the Queen - Seriously, I just spritzed her a little with water to dampen, straightened her out, and lightly steamed with the iron. I did the whole thing to make sure I wasn't just moving the problem or happened to pick a 'good spot'. It's beautiful!! I'm not a sucky strander!! Not great, but it doesn't suck. This is a *huge* weight off my shoulders and I am much happier now.

3. I switched to Addi's and very lightly scuffed the right needle only where I need to stretch the stitches for the floats. The tip and the join are still all nice and slippery. For me, this is the perfect tool for this task and should make things go quicker. Up to this point, it has been taking me an hour just for one row, a very time consuming knit.

4. I colored in the charts. I'm very visual but the distinction of the symbols was not enough to keep the actual picture of what I was knitting clear to me. The colors do. I also wrote in the actual number of stitches on the very long sections. Again, 9 seems to be my magic limit of what is easy for me to glance at and *know* what to do as opposed to having to think it out, squint alot, and stop to actually count little boxes.

5. The big one - the way too big one! Well I am nearing the row where all decisions must be made and I have to choose where the armholes and neckline decreases will be. I have decided to take the plunge and remove 3.5 inches from the front. This will mean the Falcon pattern will be like the instructions say for the smaller size but the Hounds pattern has different placement so I will have to refigure the charts and decreases for these. The bright side to this is that the front of my sweater will start with Hound Heads - instead of Hound Butts as the design is written.

Doing this means I have a 4.5" "steek" for the first half of my sweater, oy! So I will cast off the extra ones so there will be 2 separate steeks for the front. The only problem I see with this is that when I go to pick up stitches for the button band, I won't have edge stitches and may go blind trying to make sure I am always in the same column. Am I missing anything that is going to bite me later on this??

Oh, and the Apprentice* doesn't have matching shoulder seams on this one so I'll be tackling that too. See, with more experience I would have had the foresight to see that coming - I do now, thanks to all of Marina's experience and the analysis from working on Ambassador.

*While Jade Starmore is indeed a master knitter and accomplished designer, in the book "Tudor Roses", published in 1998, Alice refers to her as her Apprentice. "Anne Boleyn" is the pattern from this book, designed by Jade, that I frequently refer to here as "The Queen".

Friday, March 09, 2007

Pandora's Box

Behold, Pandora's Box!! In it I have sealed all of my knitterly woes and left it in the dark caves to gather dust for time on end. In my naive unknowing, I was bold, curious and desirous of beauty. I drew to me the glorious writings of icon and apprentice. I brought forth the richest of threads in royal hues from many lands. I engaged the spirit of the masses to rejoice with me as birth was given to this tribute to a fallen queen. I set about my labors with delight as the magic unfurled and form began........

....then I awakened and came to realize that one so humble as I had not the fortitude to endure the long nights and tedious, interminable floats wraught by the apprentice. I came to know the truth of my brashness and was brought to my knees in humility at my presumptuousness that lowly I could execute the visions of the icon's offspring. Loathe to continue on this wearisome quest, I withdrew from the support of the masses and secreted away the evidence of my shame.

Many moons have passed since I discovered the folly of my ways and I am drawn once again to wipe off the dust. In reflection I have learned much in the eons since last I beheld the beautiful queen. I have dared to open the box and release the buried woes, praying that there is indeed a bit of hope left in the bottom..........

........underneath that huge pile of yarn!!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

My crafting has gone to the dogs!!

Well, one dog in particular. I got a call from the greyhound rescue group I work with and they had a beautiful white guy coming up from Daytona that needed a place to stay. Being the supportive person I am and since the house seemed a bit empty after Rocky was adopted, I said sure, sounds like fun. Well, they didn't know much about him before his arrival other than the obvious, he is white and male. Well, his name is Remix and he is also TWO....and three feet tall....and 75lbs....and TWO.

Typical Remix:

Most of you have known a two year old in some form during your life so you understand that two is very very busy, very very persistent, and very very stubborn. Yes, all the 'very's are necessary, it's either that or a whole bunch of exclamation points! He is just one big bundle of enthusiasm for life, ready to Go-See-Do anything and everything. He is also sweet, lovable and charming and makes me laugh all day long because his antics are hilarious, and let's face it, he is too darn cute. At least my Kya thinks so :)

And his favorite thing in his new home (other than stealing dishes out of the sink)? WOOL seconded slightly by ALPACA. While I give the guy credit for having great taste, the fact that persists endlessly trying to taste all of my projects is really cramping my knitty spinny style. On the bright side, he occasionally naps and as long as I don't move, he may stay that way for a few rounds on something...... shhhh...... I think he is about to doze off ;-)