Archive for the “meta-knitting” Category

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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This is the official end of 2016 tallying-up post!


Incoming fibre in 2016:
Split half of an eight-pound MDSW fleece with Caroline

4 pounds, not accounting for weight lost to the washing and carding process

2016MDSW_with_fleece

Outgoing fibre in 2016:
6 ounces of Ashland Bay Merino Tussah became 353 yards of two-ply yarn
4 ounces of Sheepish Creations Merino/Bamboo/Nylon became 348 yards of two-ply yarn

10 ounces / 701 yards

20160710_wheel-and-tour


Incoming yarn in 2016:
1 ball Sugar ‘n Cream to make Michael a new washcloth (150)
1 ball Red Heart Buttercup to make a stuffed sheep (63)
1 skein Valley Yarns Huntington for white toes on the Tiger socks (218)
1 skein Cascade 220 for Karlin’s hat (220)

4 balls / 651 yards

tiger_sock

Outgoing yarn in 2016:
1 skein Cascade 220 for Karlin’s hat (220)
half a ball of Red Heart Soft, so my SIL can learn to crochet (128)
Leftover Jacob handspun for Dave’s Sheep (50)
Leftover Andean Treasure for Dave’s Sheep (25)
Half a ball of Red Heart Buttercup for Dave’s Sheep (30)
1 ball Sugar ‘n Cream to make Michael a new washcloth (150)
1 ball Opal Rainforest, for the Tiger Tiger socks (465)
2 balls Loops & Threads Impeccable for the Such a Square afghan (192 each)
1 ball handspun Fiber Optics yarn for the Gradient Hat (152)

7 balls / 1412 yards


The Year in Crafting:
I feel really good about my projects this year! I got a lot done, and more yarn out than in. (Can’t say the same about fibre, but hey, I bought half a fleece…) Everything I did this year is all together on a 2016 Projects page.

Favourite project:

Without a doubt, the Wee Sheepie.

20161018_sheep

Plans for Next Year:
More knitting! :D

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On April 4, this blog will be TEN YEARS OLD. Ten! Can you believe it? As my grandma used to say, “Who’d’a thunk it?” (And, as I’ve heard elsewhere, “how much could there possibly be to write about knitting?!” Quite a bit, as it turns out.) I’d like to release a new pattern to celebrate this significant “blogiversary,” but obviously that means starting now so that it has a chance of being ready for release in a few months.

I knew I wanted the hat to be stranded colourwork using four colours of yarn, which is outside the realm of my usual knitting – but a special anniversary calls for a special design! So I opened up Excel and started slapping colours into cells. Then there was a lot of rearranging, cutting-and-pasting, scowling, adjusting, centering, shifting, and re-adjusting. Eventually I had something I liked, so I retrieved the yarn I wanted to use (Jo Sharp Classic DK Wool) and some US size 4/3.5mm needles, and started knitting a swatch.

I knit several inches of stockinette to get a feel for the yarn, and then decided to swatch one of the motifs I’d charted. Unwisely, I failed to record the colourways and dye lots when I bought the yarn a few years ago, but the colours are a rich brown, cherry red, pale blue, and creamy white. It doesn’t quite matter, as I’m writing the pattern in two different sizes that will work with four different gauge tensions, so knitters will be able to pick the yarn they like best. This is the colour combination I like for myself, but I’ll offer a few other combination ideas in the final pattern.

Yep, I think that’s going to work just fine. The back side of the swatch is nifty-looking, too.

Once I’d measured and taken pictures, I unraveled the yarn and wound each colour back onto its respective ball. The swatch is pretty, but ultimately useless – and I might need that yarn before I’m done with the hat!

The hardest part of designing a pattern isn’t the charting, the writing, or the test-knitting… it’s coming up with a good name. “Four-Colour Hat” is all right for a working title, I guess, but it won’t do for the long term. Suggestions are welcome, of course! (Just not “Blogiversary Hat”. That would be silly.)

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Hello, friends! It has been a while, hasn’t it? I’ve been super-busy! Most of the year so far has been swallowed up by the process of packing, cleaning, fixing, selling one house, and moving into another. Whooo! But now that is pretty much taken care of. The mountain house has been sold, and while I miss it, I know it was the right decision. The new house is lovely, but a time-consuming work in progress as I unpack and arrange everything just so. But today I took a break from all of that and went to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival with a friend.

We bought a fleece.

2016MDSW_with_fleece

I hadn’t had plans to buy anything in particular; packing up my yarn to move had helped me realize that my hobby has become more about collecting yarn and fibre than actually doing anything with it, and that’s not the road I want to go down. So I haven’t actually purchased any yarn since my birthday in January, when I bought just one 50g skein of white sock yarn for a specific project and purpose. It’s not that I was opposed to buying something today, it’s just that I wasn’t planning to. I was open to the possibilities, of course.

So we went into the fleece show and sale, and were ooh-ing and ahh-ing over one too-expensive merino cross in particular, when a lovely volunteer whose Ravelry name I promptly forgot (sorry!) came over to ask if we had any questions. The next thing we knew, we were following her all over the barn, sticking our hands into giant bags of fleeces and discussing their relative merits… and then we found The One.

It’s an eight-pound merino/rambouillet cross, it’s a lovely dark brown with silvery bits, and it was in our budget. So we bought it. I took a couple more pictures after I got it home:

2016MDSW_fleece1

2016MDSW_fleece2

Anyway, we dropped the fleece off in the car and did a bit more shopping, and then I tried out my camera’s zoom lens on the herding demonstrations. I think it worked pretty well:

2016MDSW_herding1

2016MDSW_herding2

2016MDSW_herding3

We couldn’t hear a word of the explanations, but it was still really cool to watch the dogs happily doing their work. They’re obviously having a great time out there; border collies need to have a job and these dogs were just so eager to get out and do what they were meant to do. At times I could swear they were laughing at the sheep!

The fleece-cleaning will begin in a couple of weeks, and then we’ll decide whether we’re going to comb or card. Our goal is to have it all ready for the Tour de Fleece in July – how great will it be to do the TdF with an actual fleece this year?

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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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This is the official end of 2015 tallying-up post!


Incoming fibre:

None. Zero, zip, zilch. That took a lot of willpower!

Outgoing fibre:
4 ounces Bonkers merino-tencel, spun into 250 yards of two-ply
4 ounces Bullens Wullens merino-silk-bamboo, spun into 105 squooshy yards of chain-ply
4 ounces Rambouillet, spun up forever ago, finally chain-plied into 268 yards
quite a lot of mystery wool, spun longdraw, 922 yards of two-ply

12 oz plus however much mystery wool there is; I didn’t weigh it.

20150711_tdf15_plying


Incoming yarn:
1 ball Cascade 220 Superwash in gray (220)
2 balls Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed in Serpentine (294)
2 balls Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed in Peppercorn (294)

5 balls / 808 yards

Outgoing yarn:
1 ball Cascade 220 Superwash, Dave’s Hat (220)
.66 ball Lily Sugar & Cream in Pink Camo for a washcloth (100)
1 ball Knit Picks Andean Treasure for Stef’s Handwarmers (110)
1.5 balls Jo Sharp Classic DK wool for my own handwarmers (160)
2 balls Patons Kroy in Summer Moss Jacquard, sold (332)
2 balls “Starry Night” handspun given to Mom (256)
.33 ball Knit Picks Andean Treasure and half a ball each of gray and white Cascade 220 Superwash for Michael’s Bicolour Hat (37, 220)
2 balls Noro Silk Garden sock for the Rhinebeck Shawl (656)
1 skein handspun merino/silk for Mom to make a hat for Grandma (170)
2 balls Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed in Peppercorn, Michael’s new Fleeps (294)
1 ball Berroco Sox for a pair of mindless stockinette socks (440)
1 ball Loops & Threads Impeccable for the Such a Square afghan (192)

16.5 balls / 3187 yards

Plus, Dad gave me this awesome yarn bowl:
dad_yarnbowl1


The Year in Crafting:
I feel really good about my projects this year! I got a lot done. They’re all together on a 2015 Projects page.

Favourite project:
It was a tossup between the Bicolour Hat and this, but I gotta say… it’s the Schultertuch. I loved making it! I still don’t know when or how or where to wear it, but it’s gorgeous and I love just looking at it.

schultertuch_finished


Patterns Published:
Only one this year, the Carved Lines Armwarmers – I’m really happy with the shape of these! I have a bunch of ideas for new patterns too, including a colourwork hat that I charted out a few weeks ago, lacy socks, cabled socks, mittens… it’s a long list!

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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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I’m very excited to be able to share my latest design, the Carved Lines Armwarmers! This project has been in the works for several months and is finally ready for release.

Inspired by the sinuous shapes that skiers and snowboarders leave in the snow as they carve down the mountain, the Carved Lines Armwarmers are meant to close the gap between your jacket and your gloves, keeping the snow off your wrists and keeping you out on the slopes longer! The slipknot cast-on and sewn bind-off are stretchy without being floppy, giving neat finished edges to your work.

~~~~~~~~ IMPORTANT NOTICE ~~~~~~~~
Through August 2015 the Carved Lines Armwarmers will be available at a discounted price of $1.49.
On September 1, the price will go up to $1.99. Get your copy today!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Check out the Carved Lines pattern page on Ravelry or click the button to purchase the pattern:

carved_lines4_1200

carved_lines2_1200

carved_lines3_1200

YOU WILL NEED: A set of five US 4/3.5mm double-point needles (or the size needed to get gauge for your particular yarn), and a darning needle to weave in ends. Optional: stitch marker to mark the beginning of the round.

FINISHED MEASUREMENTS: The stitch pattern has some stretch to it, and should fit hands 7 to 7.5″ around.

YARN and GAUGE: Approximately 1.5 skeins (160 yards) Jo Sharp Classic Wool DK, or any DK-weight yarn you like, to get a gauge of 26 stitches to 4 inches/10 cm in stockinette. To make a larger size, a light worsted weight such as Cascade 220 and US 6/4mm needles is recommended.

Important Copyright Information: The Carved Lines Armwarmers knitting pattern is © 2015 Knitting Pirate. You may not sell or otherwise distribute copies of this pattern, but you may absolutely sell the armwarmers you make, and Knitting Pirate would very much appreciate it if credit is given for the design. If you have any questions about what you can or can’t do with this pattern, please feel free to contact the Knitting Pirate.

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My dad’s gotten into throwing pottery in the last few years, which is pretty awesome. As with any craft there comes an inevitable surplus of finished objects, so he’s been offering me pieces and told me to pick out anything I want. I’m in minimization mode as I’m getting ready to move at the end of the year, so I didn’t want a purely decorative bowl (although they *are* very pretty). Instead, I asked him if he could make a yarn bowl for me, and sent him descriptions, preferred dimensions, and links to several examples on Etsy and Google Images search.

This is what he’s come up with. It’s lovely!

dad_yarnbowl1

I’m trying it out with a ball of Cascade 220 Superwash, which is just the right size… and it works perfectly, as you can see in this video (click to play):

Thank you so much, Dad! This is great – I’m sure I’ll get many, many years of use out of it!

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Here we have the twenty-five yards of my very first attempt at a woollen longdraw, knit into a twenty-six stitch swatch. I started first on size 10.5 (6.5mm) needles, decided after a few rows that it was far too loose, and went down to size 9 (5.5mm) for the rest of it. That’s why the bottom of the swatch appears to be flaring out; it actually is slightly bigger! After deciding that the size 9s were just about right in terms of how the fabric felt, I experimented a little bit with a few cables and a little patch of seed stitch. I wanted to see how much definition I would get with the textures, and the answer is “very little.” I’m relieved, as if they’d stood out nicely I would be tempted to knit a cabled sweater! Instead, I can plan for plain stockinette with a bit of ribbing for shaping, which should be a quicker project.

longdraw_swatch

After the swatch had soaked and lightly blocked – just stretched into shape, no pinning – I measured 14 stitches to 4 inches, which puts the yarn solidly into the bulky/chunky range. The fabric isn’t next-to-skin soft, but that’s okay for the kind of sweater I’m thinking of knitting. I’d like to see if I can get down to more of a worsted weight yarn, though. More test-spinning and swatching will certainly be required! I have enough of this roving to do as much testing as I need, and still have plenty remaining.

The only issue (which isn’t really an issue) is that testing takes a lot of not-spinning time. Spin the singles and give them a day to rest. Ply them, soak them, and give them a day or two to dry. Knit the test swatch, block it, and then wait for *that* to dry. Meanwhile, the Tour de Fleece is starting in two weeks! I’ll need to know exactly what I’m spinning, if I want to make this roving into my TdF project. It’s looking like I’ll end up doing a bit of this, but also working on some of the pretty dyed top I have in the stash – which I won’t mind doing at all.

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