Sunday, September 30, 2007

Folkloric Block Confession Time

What with steeking, and Fair Isle, and pattern adaptation, it's been a very long time since I knit a cardigan in the *regular* way (back, fronts, sleeves). It's so much faster and easier to knit the tube and snip (or combine the fronts and backs and eliminate the side seams). But I'll confess here and now: I don't block things the way we've all been told to- I never block before assembling a sweater (with Fair Isle, it's generally not possible, and I'm usually too impatient to wash/block pieces for a conventional pullover, plus I don't have the room to lay the separate pieces out to dry). I'm not going to block the pieces of this sweater either, but I can see already, that I'm going to have to block and pin the squares to make them square. Part of the problem is my own tension- the blocks are a combo of intarsia and stranding, and no matter how careful you are, there's going to be a bit of drawing in. But the bigger part is that this yarn is so inconsistant- with huge variations in yarn thickness (not actual thick and thin, but a gradual thickening and thinning from bulky to less than sportweight). I'm thinking of this sweater as a sort of wearable Folk Art piece anyway (it's not for me), but I still don't want those crooked edges to be the only thing I see when I look at it.

I wanted to see what the embroidery would look like- so I wove in all the ends (many many ends), and then worked cross stitches inside the blocks (much neater looking than satin stitch, I think), and did the other embroidery. I think it looks smashing. I'm almost past the lower patterning on one of the fronts, so it's knitting up quickly. I think I'll incorporate the lower borders into the sleeves as well (partly because I'm not sure how far the orange yarn will go). I'm rather surprised at how subtle some of the color changes are- in the skein, the contrasts really popped, but knit up, they blend into each other a lot more than I expected.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Freebie Friday- Paper Doll Fair Isle Mittens, Child Size

I made these mittens for one of my granddaughters for Christmas last year. She loved them and wore them all winter. There are 2 variations- one with embroidery, one without (frankly, I think the one *with* looks a little like a string of aliens, but that tickled my granddaughter). If I was going to knit them again, I would choose shades with a bit more contrast (the light pink and dark pink sort of blend into each other). But otherwise, they came out just fine.

To print the pages- click on the image to enlarge it, then right click to save it as a jpg, then print from any graphics program. You may make as many of these as you want, you may sell the finished mittens, but please don't repost the instructions. Link to here so knitters can download their own copies. Thanks.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Yarn I Forgot

Remember the yarn I forgot from the North Country Fiber Fair last year? It spoke to me this afternoon. Luckily the pattern I had in mind (Folkloric Blocks, from Knitter's Winter 2006) was in the bag with the yarn, and luckier still, I still like that design, though I had to go online for a good shot of the full sweater.
Of course, I have many other things I should be doing, so it's the perfect time to start a new project, right? My sweater isn't going to look exactly like the one in the pic, and not just because my colors are different- I made a copy of the chart without realizing that my printer had cut off the bottom 12 rows of the design. So I started in the wrong place with the stranding/colorwork. But what the heck- I'll just add those lines in now and it'll be fine (as long as I remember to make the fronts match). This sweater is a mix of easy stranding and Intarsia, so I'm going to work it back and forth. I don't know if I'll do all the embroidery or not- I am pretty sure that I'm not going to do the satin stitch in the centers of the squares- maybe a cross stitch instead.
The yarn was a pain in the patoot to wind- it felted in the skein, stuck together, tangled terribly, and broke easily, and I had an awful time casting on (I think the single came apart 4 times), but now that I'm actually knitting with it, it's coming along fine. It's Tibet 60% Wool, 40% Recycled Silk, from the Himalayan Yarn Co. My MC will be a tweedy orange, with black bands, and blue/yellow/green/purples as the squares. I have high hopes for it. My row gauge is off a bit, so I'm going to have at least one more row of squares than in the pattern, but that's okay. The fabric feels a bit loose as I knit, but this yarn blooms after washing, so it'll tighten up after blocking. I'm almost to the armhole shaping on the back (evidently I can knit Intarsia while I watch My Name is Earl and The Office).

Thursday Tab- Artcraft Campus Queens #1743, 1957

Even as a child, I preferred Glamour Girl paper dolls to the little girls and babies (though I had plenty of those sets as well, and many in my collection). When I started collecting, I looked specifically for paperdolls that I had as a child, and Campus Queens is one of them. This book is a reprint of Campus Sweethearts #4430, which was published in 1957. My reprint (from Artcraft, which was affiliated with Saalfield) was probably published a few years later. I love the outfits in this set- so June Cleaver/Sorority Sister/Circle Pin. Take note of the *cheerleader atmosphere* of the set (with pennants and silhouettes on the cover, etc) and then note that there are no cheerleader outfits. This seemed to be a paper doll trend- I have several cheerleader sets from that era (some of them with Cheerleader in the title) that have no actual cheerleader clothes. A strange omission, I think.
Also odd is the division of clothes in this set- the brunette doll has more outfits than the blonde, and only she has a formal gown (usually, sets are pretty evenly divided as to number of clothes, and every doll had formal wear). A lot of space was used up for Blondie's jammies, while the brunette has to sleep in her swimsuit, I guess.
Oh- and if you do cut these out, ignore the little slits in the tabs. They don't actually hold the clothes on the doll, and they always tear.

As always, click on the thumbnail to enlarge the image, then right click to save the image as a jpg if you want to print the pages out. Print the covers/dolls on cardstock if you want to cut them. You can use the bucket fill tool in any graphics program to whiten the background for printing, though check the page carefully before you print- sometimes the bucket tool will also whiten areas you don't want changed.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Less is.... okay?

I did knit last night, while I watched the debut of Reaper, which I liked, though not quite as much as Chuck, on Monday (and they're nearly the same show- 20-something slackers pressed into dangerous duty they neither asked for, nor desired, with goofy friends and Hot Chicks Nearby. Luckily, they're both quite funny and worth watching). Reaper is a bit more Ghostbusters than I was expecting (not that there's anything wrong with Ghostbusters- it's the best one in its row- I was just hoping for Dead Like Me ).
Anyway, last night I started a sock with my most recent handspun yarn. And then I started it again. And again. I wanted to make the subtle color changes pop with a textured design, but none of them worked. I tried Monkey Socks (for some reason, I can't get a link to work- the pattern is available at Knitty), but the yarn needed Size 3 needles, and the Monkey pattern can only be sized down in increments of 16 sts, so it was just too big as written, and too small reduced. I tried cables, but the yarn is pretty dense and at the gauge I needed for socks, it would have been like wearing iron lumps. I tried waffle and the texture just didn't show. So I went to plain stockinette. At first I thought it was a shame not to show off the yarn more, but as I knit, I realized that plain vanilla is a good showcase for yarn whose subtle color variations would disappear in a busier pattern when knit that tightly. I'll have plenty of yarn left over, for maybe fingerless mittens, which can be knit a bit looser, and then I can play with texture. The socks will be dense and comfy, and perfect for those below zero days when no house feels really warm.

Watermelon and Roadwork Sweaters

I hear that the new Knit Picks catalogs are out (mine always arrives 2-3 weeks after everyone else's, so I haven't seen it yet), and my Watermelon cardigan and Road Work Fair Isle pullover are on the back cover! I loved designing and knitting these sweaters and am really excited that I can now post a pic here.
Links to the patterns, available from Knit Picks, to the right (in the *My Patterns* section).

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Okay, so I lied...

I didn't knit while I watched a very funny Chuck, a totally kick-ass Heroes (Ned? Ned Ryerson?), and a slightly underwhelming Journeyman- I spun instead.

While I was laughing out loud at Chuck (several times) and his story line (which is a hoot), and his friend Morgan (who is hootier still), I plied the last bobbins of theTeeswater Cross from Aleta Van Kampen. The yarn came out beautifully- smooth, with a lovely sheen, and bits of jewel colors throughout. I have 3 hanks, about 400 yds of around 14 wpi yarn- plenty enough for a pair of socks. I think I want to do cables- that will show off the colors nicely. I think there will be a bit of striping in the yarn, which will be cool too (and the socks won't match, but that won't matter).

And then during Heroes (which came back with a bang), I started on some mystery wool that I found in my stash. It's not a total mystery- I know that I got it from Kelly Knispel, and it's one of her Spinner's Web blends (from South Dakota wool). The little tag says *mxd*- which I am translating as a Merino/Dorsett cross (it feels like that- soft with a bit more spring than pure merino- and I can't see any mohair in it at all), with silk noil. It's lovely gray/bright pink/purple and bits of other colors, with bright hot pink silk noil throughout. I have about a pound of this wool, and I don't know for sure what I'm going to do with the yarn. I spun it fine (though the noils make it a bumpy yarn). Kelly always has new fibers for sale, though I suspect this blend is way long gone (since I bought it more than a year ago).

And during Journeyman (which wasn't as good as I was hoping, though the storyline is pretty complex and the characters are interesting. I'll give it another couple of weeks to see if it finds its footing), I Navajo 3-plied it (a technique I need to practice anyway). This hank is about 50 yards, at about 12wpi (it's not heavy, it just bloomed really nicely during the wash). The colors are great and the yarn is soft, though with less bounce than I expected. It might work in a simple Fair Isle project (where a bit of nub in the yarn won't bother the patterning). Or cables (hat and mittens- it might not be strong enough for socks).

Monday, September 24, 2007

What I'll be Watching Tonight, When I Knit

ohmigod, ohmigod, oh oh oh- Heroes is on tonight! I'll give Chuck, and especially Journeyman a try (I loved Kevin McKidd in Rome ), but it's Heroes I've been waiting for. That and The Office. And My Name is Earl. And 30 Rock.

I have no idea if Peter and Nathan are still alive (though I'd bet on it), or Sylar (not so sure, but I'll bet he'll be around, if only in flashbacks). I want to know how Hiro is managing in ancient Japan, and Claire in the modern era. Is The Hatian with HRG, or not. And speaking of HRG (Horn Rimmed Glasses aka Noah Bennett), did they get Mr. Muggles from the burning house? So many questions, only 60 minutes to answer them.

And if you think I have excreble taste in TV now, just wait until January when American Idol comes back.

For the definitive snarky take on all of these shows (and an excellent excuse to fritter away an hour or twelve), check the Television Without Pity link on the right side of this page.

Hi, Howarya

Don't you wish your mom had made you a green yarn wig back in 1956?

Magic #3

Here's my 3rd pair for the Magic 28 charities (though again, it's 30 sts, 30 rows to the heel, about 25 to the foot because 30 looked way too long). I'm using up the last of that home-dyed self-patterning yarn (it didn't make the cut for Yarns to Dye For, and this is a great use for it) in these socks. Pair #4, on the needles now, has the last bits as heels and cuffs. These socks are fun to knit, and oh so quick. I might have 6 pairs done by the time they need to be mailed off (Oct 5, so the PO has a chance to get them to the coordinator by Oct 12). After that, I'll find another sock charity to knit for. So many small, cold feet, and not enough time to knit for all of them.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Follow the Arrow?

It's hard to know which is more frightening, inexplicably cheerful Miss Red's zig-zag and fringe, macramed smack over the hips, or the little appliqued tab pointing directly to Miss Green's lady parts. Women (and believe me, this magazine was talking only to women) were encouraged to send for Leaflet 595-B for the directions. If I'd been reading McCall's Needlework and Crafts in Fall/Winter 62-63, I would have been annoyed to have to send an SASE with a 4 cent (!) stamp in order to get the instructions to knit a sweater featured in a magazine that I already paid 60 cents for. Or maybe I would have been relieved. It's hard to know.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Freebie Friday- Easy Lace Fingerless Mittens

I love fingerless mittens- even in my new house, it gets chilly in the mornings at my computer, so I wear them frequently in the winter. But they're not just for indoors, or warmish fall days. You can pair handknit fingerless mittens with those little cheapo gloves for a great layered look. The gloves come in any color (and they'll be on the shelves soon), so you should be able to match any yarn you use. Sorry about the goofy angle in the scan- it's surprisingly difficult to take a picture one-handed.

To dowload the pattern page, click on the thumbnail to enlarge. Right click on the image and save it as a jpg. Print from any graphics program.

It's an open invitation to send me jpgs of anything you knit from a Freebie Friday pattern- I'll post them here.

BTW-I don't just knit with worsted weight yarn, but that seems to be a trend on Freebie Friday patterns. I'll try to dig out a fingering weight pattern for next week.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Thursday Tab- Saalfield Dora, #1545, 1951

This is Saalfield #1545 (a reprint of #2604), called Dora. It features the same girl (Dora, natch), at ages 6, 10, 14 and 16 (though to me it looks like 6, 10, 19 and 27). I only have one file for the cover, so I assume that the front and back are identical on my version. The earlier version has the dolls on the back cover, and a grown up Dora driving a car on the front.

This is a pretty well drawn set, and there are a lot of outfits given that there are only 4 pages of clothes (and 4 dolls). Though the date in my reference book is 1951- these clothes look more mid-40's to me.

Just in case you don't know how to do this- click on the thumbnail to enlarge, then right click on the image to save it as a jpg. You can print it out from any graphics program.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

More Arrrr!

Here be some piratical uses for sharp pointy sticks. The blarmy HTML be stubbornly refusin' to cooperate, so the naked link will have to do ye, whilst the HTML marches it's sorry behind off the plank.

Arrrrrrrr. And Yarrrrrrr.

Today be International Talk Like a Pirate Day, and scurvy landlubbers best be wearin' their eye patches, or they be walkin' the plank.
Portside, ye may spy Magic 28 Sock Pair #2. They be work'd from woolen yarns color'd specially for ye olde Dyeing book (...dying book... harrrr, that be a pirate pun), but alas, wuz cut down in their prime by Admiral Editor, who had the final say in suchlike matters. This charity woolwork be a perfect use for parti-color'd yarns as had not found a proper home otherwise.
I believe I may be watchin' this whilst I whittle away at the needlework this fall morn.

If ye be not familiar with Piratical talking, ye may be interested in yonder link to assist ye in complyin' with the command to be modifyin' yer speech patterns. And a bottle o' rum.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Busy Days

I can't show what I'm working on at the moment, because it's for a book proposal, but here's a snippet. Pretty colors, no?

I have several items that have to be knit and sent in by Friday, and if I am lucky, I will, once again, be gainfully employed. I'd cross my fingers, but it's hard to knit that way.

In the meantime, my other granddaughter (the one who doesn't like to wear sweaters) was thumbing through the Dale Baby Book (#152). She stopped on a page, and said, a little breathless, "Oh Grandma, I looooove this sweater. Will you knit it for me?" What sweater enthralled her so? The ladybug sweater that I already made for her cousin for Christmas. So I guess I'll be knitting another one.

Hey! I Know That Camel

My friend Dana's camels are pictured in the current issue of Spin-Off!(page 50, Fall 2007 issue). I've not only met the camels pictured, I have spun their fiber, and have a couple of bags of camel blends in my stash. My favorite wools to spin are longwools, but my favorite non-wool fiber is camel- it's so soft and it spins like butter. Dana's blends are fantastic- camel with assorted dyed wools, mohair, and sometimes glitz.

This is Lily, in 2001.

And this is a lace scarf that I knitted from Dana's camel blends (also in '01)- it's camel, wool, a bit of black alpaca, and some glitz. I loved spinning that fiber. Don't look too closely at the scarf- it was my very first lace project and there are mistakes galore. I still love the scarf anyway.

The Spin-Off article (by Carol H. Rhodes, who I forgot to mention also taught at NCFF last weekend- I would have taken her all-day Spinning for Knitting class, but I'd already committed to teaching my two workshops) is a really good one, with lots of info about the prep and spinning of camel.

Monday, September 17, 2007


I got a batt of Aleta Van Kampen's Teeswater/Cotswold cross Northern Lights spun, plied, washed, dried, and whapped a few times. It turned out reeeel purty. The skein is about 131 yds, 98 gr, and about 13wpi. I have another batt spun (this one was about 2ozs) and ready to ply, and the one in the pic left to spin, so I'll have plenty for a pair of socks. The yarn has a nice sheen, and it's smooth and sturdy. There isn't any bounce in it, but that's fine. I'll use some sort of texture (rib or waffle, or suchlike) when I knit my socks, and I predict that the yarn will behave perfectly. I'll probably use size 3 needles.

I could have kept the colors separate by spinning a finer single, and Navajo plying, but I wanted the yarn to have bits of color here and there, rather than specific stripes. I think it's going to knit up beautifully.
I do love to spin, I just haven't had the wheel out for a very long time (this is the first skein in about a year), but I've got the bug again (and a wool/roving stash that rivals the yarn stash, so I'm not going to run short).

Sunday, September 16, 2007

NCFF 2007

You know what? Spending 7 hours in classrooms severely limits the amount of shopping I can do in a single day. But I managed to buy some fiber anyway, and I squeezed in an hour or so spinning between and after classes. It has been far too long since I had the wheel out, and it was so lovely to sit in a circle with other spinners and play with wool. This batt is dyed and natural Teeswater/Cotswold Cross from Aleta Van Kampen's Da*Ko*Ta Patternworks and Fibers. It's beautifully prepared and spins like a dream. It should make lovely, sturdy sock yarn. I also bought a 3oz baggie of freshly plucked angora from an entreprenurial young man who made the rounds from spinner to spinner, looking for a purchaser for his last bag of the day.

But I spent most of the day in a classroom- the morning with 4 intrepid ladies who bravely cut their knitting and completed their doll-size sweaters in 4 hours. Together, we tested out my new workshop directions, and only found a couple of places that need additions or more illustrations. I hope they learned as much from me as I learned from them. Note the beautiful red shawl in the 2nd pic- it was an Extreme Yarn Makeover, with the yarn recycled from an old sweater and knit into the most beautiful lace shawl. I should have taken a class from her.

In the afternoon, another 7 ladies (well another 6, and one who also took the steeking class) tackled short-row heels. We learned that my instructions need some photos (I'll do another heel and scan every step), but each of the ladies completed their heel, and we had a good time (snapped needles notwithstanding).

After classes, we had a buffet meal, and a fashion show from entries in the competition (narrated by none other than Rick Mondragon, editor of Knitters magazine.) My Pheasant Gloves took 2nd place in the Knit with Commercial Yarn category. There were some absolutely beautiful knitted, woven, and felted items entered, and lots of happy ribbon winners.

It was a lovely festival-with 21 vendors (I'm sorry I didn't get to spend more money), demos all day (I watched angora being spun directly from the rabbit), good food, good friends, and roomfuls of people who really do understand when wool asks to come home with you. Can't ask for more than that, except maybe more people attending. See you all at NCFF next year?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Knitters Etc- Sept '07

We had a wonderful time at the Red Rooster today- I miss our group during the summer. A few of the regulars had other obligations, but we had a nice crowd anyway. And everyone had something fun to show, or talk about.
This is Susie, who talked about her several Purple ribbon winners from the fair, but came straight from work so didn't have any knitting to show. Maybe next time, she'll bring one of her felted birds- they're wonderful. Laura was working on an alpaca scarf. Tammy was finishing up a reversible cable scarf made from luscious terra cotta alpaca.

Here's Tammy again. Marcy showed us a really unusual scarf with raised ridges (knit with Bamboo/Wool). LaVerne had felted a bag that didn't shrink as much as she expected. Esther showed everyone the pattern for a Ruana she intends to knit.

Carolyn had several completed and uncompleted sweaters to show (including a breathtaking red cabled project), and a Moebius shawl that didn't Moeb (no twist), and some very cool socks with Fair Isle on the heel flap (note to self: make very cool socks with Fair Isle on the heel flap). Karen showed her prize winning felted Finnish mittens, and a very clever adjustable-size baby hat. Ginger wore a handknit shawl, and showed us parts of a sweater she is working on.

Marci talked about her motorcycle trips this summer (and whether or not she should try to knit while riding), and she showed the afghan she is knitting from some yarn she won as a prize. Jean was making wonderful lace fingerless-mittens (I won't say for whom, just in case they check in here). Pat was knitting 2 socks on 2 circs.

Dana popped in late, but brought the most amazing, wonderful, beautiful felted Intarsia bag- fully lined, with a leather bottom, piping and handles. I wanted to steal it, but I'm pretty sure that she would have caught me. Ginger wants everyone to know that she wasn't picking her nose in this picture.
As always, it was great to get together- we'll see everyone, same time, same place, next month.
Oh- not pictured: Sue, who was making fingerless mitts for kids at the hospital (where she works) to cover IV needles. And I forgot to have anyone take a pic of me.

Freebie Friday- Niblet Socks

To save this pattern- click on the thumbnails to enlarge them. Then right click on the image, save it as a jpg, then you can print the page in any graphics program. Do this with both pages. I tried to reply to everyone who asked in the comments, but a couple of the e-mail addresses wouldn't work. So I hope everyone sees this. Thanks for all the requests!
This yarn was dyed by my friend Betty, and I don't know if she has any left, but the colors look like a drying cornfield to me- the perfect East River (Eas Triver, in the local parlance) fall colors because while we don't get much red here, we do get plenty of gold and fading green. I decided to knit heavy socks with a sort of *corn* texture (a blend of waffle and basketweave). I call these socks Niblets. They're quick to knit, very cushy and warm, and they'll be comfy in boots, sandals or with your slippers as the weather cools.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Handspun Hat

I am totally incapable of judging how much yarn a project will need. I really thought that there was not going to be enough of the dark brown or yellow handspun yarn to complete the entire Nordic hat. It wouldn't have mattered, really, because I had more brown yarn (just a shade lighter), and some nice solid gray, both of which would have looked just fine with the mottled colors I was already using. But it turns out that there was plenty of the dark brown, and a few yards left over of the yellow (though the closer I got to the end, the faster I knit, as though I could outrun the end of the yarn).

I am inordinately pleased with how the design came together at the top- it took a little jockeying to do those decreases and make sure that the colors came out the way I wanted them to (translation: I'm not going to write this pattern up. It's one of those you gotta figure it out for yourselves kind of designs). The hat is already washed and drying, so I can't weigh it right now, but I suspect it took about 150 gr of handspun yarn (the yarn itself is fine, but heavy). I used Size 3 needles, 144 sts (6-24 st repeats), and it has a folded picot hem. It's a medium adult size.

I don't wear hats often, so this will go in the Gift Tub.