Archive for the “colourwork” Category

I’m fortunate to have friends with good cameras who are willing to point them at me and my knitting.

Just a week and a half to go!

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Moorefield Mittens (take two) – now with a cuff of a more appropriate length. I’m getting pretty good at the alternating cable cast-on, which is still a little fiddly but no longer frustrating to do. I like how the cuff looks with red as the consistent colour – it’s a different ‘feel’ than on the hat, but still nice looking. The wonky stitch tension will even out with blocking; for some reason I have more difficulty with stranding on DPNs than on circular needles.

The thumb stitches are being held aside, and I’m up to the part where I’m going to create the opening that will make these flip-top mittens. This is accomplished by knitting a row of waste yarn across the palm, then continuing on in pattern. This technique allows the colourwork to progress uninterrupted up the back of the hand.

When I made the Fleeps I knit the glove with fingers part first, and then picked up stitches across the back of the hand to make the mitten top. This time, the mitten top is knit first, and then the waste yarn across the palm will be pulled out to give me two rows of live stitches from which I can knit the glove fingers.

I made the stitches across the inside of the thumb in pattern, though it’s probable that they won’t even show in the finished object. The thumb hole seems a little large, but that might be necessary for a range of motion. When I go to knit the thumb, I could decrease by picking up just one stitch into both “corner” stitches – where the stitches on waste yarn meet the stitches I cast on to bridge the gap. That would bring the total from 26 down to 24, which might fit my skinny fingers a little better. Conveniently, it might also help to prevent holes in the thumb!

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The hat has been finished for a while now. The ends woven in, the yarn put away (sort of – more on that in a moment) and the styrofoam head located. The hat, finished but unblocked, has been sitting on the styrofoam head in my living room, where I’ve been admiring it on a nightly basis. “But,” I said to myself, “I can’t finish writing up the pattern without pictures, and I can’t take pictures without blocking the hat.”

So it had a good warm bath, luxuriating in the Eucalan suds for half an hour or so…

…and now it’s back on the styrofoam head, its stitches far more even (especially around the decreases) and looking good. The head is actually too small for the hat, so it doesn’t look as good as it might. I’d love to have a proper-sized blocking head. One day!

It has a name now, too: I’ve decided to call it Moorefield.

As for the yarn, which has been sort of put away (it’s in a cubby of the coffee table), I might be making some matching mittens. I got started but then had to rip back; the cuff on these isn’t nearly long enough. But they’re pretty, so I’m sharing anyway.

There might not be enough brown yarn left to make two full mittens, so I’ve changed the colours around in the chart to have the main stripiness be red instead of brown for the second attempt. I’m also going to do these as flip-tops, because flip-top mittens are the best thing ever. If I really focus on them, I might be able to get them done and written up in time to release along with the hat. That’s ambitious, but not impossible.

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So, this mistake where I swapped a brown stitch with a blue stitch had to be fixed. I couldn’t just leave it there, not if I ever wanted to be pleased with the finished project.

I placed a removable marker around the stitch below the offender and knit to just before that column of stitches. (I’ll note that I should have put the marker into the stitch, rather than around it. I learned from this small mistake and got it right in the second column.)

…and then I dropped the next stitch off my needle and helped it to ladder down. The marker is now where it should have been: holding the stitch just below the one I need to fix and keeping the column of stitches from dropping even farther.

It was surprisingly easy to re-catch the stitches and pick them back up to the needle. Here the first column has been fixed, and I’ve moved the marker to the stitch below the one that needs fixing in the second column.

When it comes to picking up the stitches in a ladder, I’ve found that a small DPN is easier for me to use than crochet hooks. This is a US 1/2.25mm needle that I borrowed from the nearest sock-in-progress. It’s a good deal smaller than the US 4/3.5mm needles on which I’m knitting, which is beneficial if the stitches are tight.

I slipped the DPN through the lowest stitch, then picked up the strand coming from the neighbouring stitch of the appropriate colour. It’s easy to find with a little bit of tugging on the yarn. Then I can either duck the tip of the DPN with the picked-up stitch through the lower stitch, or use my fingernails to lift the lower stitch over the new one. Either way, it’s important to be careful that neither stitch is twisted and that all the yarn’s strands have been captured.

Here’s the fix! You can’t even tell that it was ever wrong.

I was just as concerned about the inside looking good as I was about the outside! Whether it was dumb luck or skills I didn’t even know I had, the inside of the hat looks exactly as it should. Once it’s been washed and blocked, it will be next to impossible to find the fixed stitches.

Q: How long did it take to fix?
A: Not very long. Less time than I spent agonizing over it, anyway. The timestamps on the pictures say it was 24 minutes, but I also spent eight of those minutes on the phone and I also paused to take pictures of the process. So maybe, maybe, it was fifteen minutes at most.

Q: Was it difficult?
A: Way easier than I thought it would be! The colours have so much contrast that it wasn’t challenging to see which strand I needed to pick up. I did split one stitch on the way up the second ladder, but I went back and fixed that too.

Q: Will you spend so much time waffling over whether to fix the mistake the next time this happens? Because you know there will eventually be a next time.
A: Of course I will.

Q: Even though you really know, deep down, that you can’t leave a mistake like that and you’re going to fix it?
A: Yup.

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It was bound to happen, I suppose. I only wish I’d noticed it sooner. But there it is. A brown stitch where there should be a blue one, and then a blue stitch where there should be a brown one.

I posted to the Ravelry thread for the “Colour Your Winter” challenge to which this hat belongs, and everyone either said that it would be fine to duplicate stitch over the mistake, or that it would be fine to just leave the mistake and no one would notice.

But… I would notice. I’d never be able to not notice. I told the helpful Ravelers that I’d sleep on it and decide what to do, but I already know that I’m going to drop down the eight rounds and fix it. On the plus side, the floats in the back will maintain an appropriate tension since the two stitches will be swapping places!

If I can get good pictures of the fixing process, I’ll share them. Otherwise I’ll just fix it and move on – the hat is very close to completion! There are only a few more rounds to go before I start decreasing for the crown. On a design note, I don’t think I like the way I’ve charted out the top, so I’m going to work out some changes and see if they look as good in yarn as they do in my head. Stay tuned…

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Yesterday I hurriedly left the office because it was starting to snow, and while the forecast was only for a little accumulation that can really cause rush-hour troubles here in northern Virginia. (You’d think we’d learn, but no.) Any excuse to hurry home and knit is a good one, right? The snow turned out to be nothing much, but I decided that a good soup was in order for dinner anyway… partially because hearty soup is so pleasant on a cold night, but mostly because soup is practically effortless and leaves more time for knitting!

So I chopped up some veggies and meat, tossed it all into the pot, set it to simmer, and settled in for the evening. I’m so pleased about how this hat is coming out that I fell into that “just one more round!” mentality and stayed up past my bedtime. But look how far I got! I measured it up against an existing hat that fits perfectly, and it looks as if the new one is also going to be just right for my head after it’s washed and blocked. The overall height may need to be adjusted, so I’ll put in a lifeline before I start the next motif.

I’m hoping to have it done soon, and then I’ll refine the chart if necessary and knit another hat in the larger size to test that out, and then I can work on typing up and laying out the actual pattern, and can you tell I’m just a little bit excited about this one?

Anyway, here’s my non-recipe recipe for the soup I made. It was pretty much just thrown together from what was already in the fridge and pantry, but it came out absolutely delicious:

Spicy Split Pea Soup

Ingredients

2 cups dry split peas (I used yellow pigeon peas)
8 cups stock (veggie, chicken, beef, bouillion cubes & water, whatever)
8 ounces spinach, roughly chopped
1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes, cubed
12 ounces ham, cubed (optional)
spices to taste:
kosher salt
black pepper, coarsely ground
red pepper flakes
cayenne pepper
Jamaican curry powder
vegemite or a couple of anchovies (optional, for flavour)

Directions

Easy enough: Put everything in the pot. (If you put the liquid in last, there will be less splashing.) Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cook uncovered for about two hours, stirring occasionally. Soup will continue to thicken after it cools, and may need additional liquid when reheated.

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To bring 2016 to a creative finish, I knit this quick floppy hat for a friend. She ordered the yarn and had it sent to me, and I knit it up in a few days. It’s amazing how fast knitting goes when one doesn’t have to spend eight hours in a cubicle away from the project, isn’t it? The yarn is Cascade 220 in a surprisingly sedate gray (I’d expected her to choose a bright pink), and the pattern is the Basic Hat Formula that I keep using because it just works. The hat got a soak in some expensive hair conditioner and dried on the boot-and-glove warmer, and though it’s still a bit stiff now, it will get more floppy the more it’s worn.

Michael also finished his own floppy hat (same pattern as above, same Cascade 220, but in a muted heathery blue). Of course that means that his lost hat will turn up at any moment, as is the way of lost hats.

After the hat, I think his fingers must have been itching for something to do, because he pulled out the sock yarn and half-a-sock he’d started knitting almost a decade ago. It had a few problems, primarily that it was going to be too large (blame me for that one; I’m the one who suggested the stitch count) so we frogged it, wound it into a skein, and left it to soak. He got started on a new sock with the second ball of yarn while I recharted sections of the still-nameless colourwork hat design.

By the end of the long weekend he’d finished the ribbed cuff and was moving on to the stockinette leg of the sock. He says he’s doing this so that he’ll have something to keep him occupied when we fly out west in a few weeks (snowboarding trip, woo!) but I’m starting to think he enjoys the process enough to keep going even when we’re not on an airplane.

Meanwhile, with the house to myself again, I’ll have the quiet I need so that I can concentrate on getting each of those four colours into the right place. I adjusted the chart to see if I could avoid a nasty jog at the start of each round, and I *think* it’s going to work, but only actually knitting the hat will prove my theory. More pictures should be coming later this week, when it actually looks like something!

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Over on Ravelry, the Remrants group is hosting a Colour Your Winter Craft-A-Long challenge – to finish a colourwork pattern before 31 March. Works-in-progress are acceptable entries, but I decided to start my year off with the challenge of designing a new hat in four shades of DK-weight yarn: brown, tan, red, and light blue.

My first attempt at two-colour ribbing didn’t have a nice edge, so I started over. My second attempt curled up far too much, so I started over. For the third attempt, I changed tactics and tried a two-colour brioche rib, a technique that’s completely new to me. Unfortunately, the instructions I found had left out a bit of important information, which is that even on knit rows, stitches are slipped with the yarn in front. So I started over. Again.

20160110_brioche_fail

The fourth try was the charm, and I have some two-colour brioche on the needles now. It’s reversible, so my plan is to knit enough to have a fold-up brim, which allows for the wearer to adjust the length of the hat…

20160111_brioche_win

…but my gauge for the width was totally off, and I think the finished hat might end up being two or three inches too large for my small head. That’s okay, because I’d wanted to write the pattern for two sizes, so I guess this one is going to be the larger. I’m also planning to design and knit a matching set of fingerless gloves and/or mittens!

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Knitting the bicolour hat went quite a bit faster once I transferred it from the DPNs over to a 16″ circular, though my colourwork tension still leaves something to be desired. There’s a little bit of a difference where I switched needles, but blocking helped make it look less obvious. Something to note for next time: even if you’re not using the most ideal needles, stick with them for the rest of the project.

(Did anyone else hate having to change pens in the middle of an essay? I never liked to see half a page written in one shade of blue, and the other half written in another shade.)

20151120_bicolour_hat_blocking

This project’s trial and error has taught me a lot about designing colourwork hats, and I will definitely be putting the lessons learned to good effect the next time. The lined brim came out exactly how I had envisioned it, but the ‘seam’ where each round ends and the next begins is not something I’d expected. A solid colour at that junction would have hidden it better. It took me a few attempts to figure out how the crown of the hat should come together, and I’m happy with how it looks – although I think I might need a larger model head! I have my fingers crossed that it will fit Michael’s head perfectly, and I’ll find out in just a few days when I see him at Thanksgiving.

20151122_bicolour_hat_finished

Since I only used about half of each ball of yarn to make this hat, I’m planning to make another in a slightly different pattern. I have lots of other partial balls of Cascade 220 left over from a number of previous hats, and I’m thinking about branching out into something with more than just two colours in the future!

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