Archive for February, 2008

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A Knitter’s Library

February 26, 2008

In light of recent posts, I’ve decided to recommend knitting books.  Some of the books I might actually own, some I have fondled in BookStores or Libraries and others I am simply coveting from a distance.

The first featured book is actually two selections, a book and a pamphlet which I feel no Knitter should be without.

The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns and The Knitter’s Handy Guide to Yarn Requirements both by Ann Budd.

Each of these offer practical information regarding the crucial elements of gauge in your projects. The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns provides you with a basic template for common knitted pieces such as hats, tams, mittens, gloves, sweaters, vests and socks. While The Knitter’s Handy Guide to Yarn Requirements provides basic yarn yardage requirements for the same items. Each of these publications offer instructions and information for various sizes and gauges. Again, these are musts for any Knitter, Beginner to Experienced.

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Yarn Selection is Just as Important as Gauge

February 26, 2008

Just a few posts ago, I had mentioned my struggles in blocking the Flower Basket Shawl.  The issue definitely was not gauge – this was shawl after all.  The issue was the yarn I had selected.  It contained polyamide, which technically, is a compound structure similar to protein.  Silk is a natural polyamide, while Nylon is a synthetic polyamide.  Can we guess which type of polyamide my yarn selection contained?  Yup, the Nylon.  While I was able to block the shawl, it was not as simple as it should have been.  Lesson learned – don’t use yarn with synthetic polyamide for a shawl.  I won’t make that mistake again. (smug)

Oh but we must learn the hard way before a lesson is truly learned, right?  At least, I must.

This month, my favorite organized swap, Monthly Adventures, featured a theme titled ‘Tops and Pots’.  The idea is to knit a head covering (hat, band, etc) and send a recipe for a one-pot meal to your swap partner.  Easy-peasy, right?  I decided to knit the Calorimetry, as the weather is easing up and my swap partner is not fond of hats.  My first thought, after seeing a picture of my swap partner, was that her hair is so fine and a bulky knit would be too much yarn on top of her head.  I decided that a Calorimetry knit in lace or light fingering weight would be more suitable.  I did the math, OUCH!  I would have to nearly double the cast on stitches and do additional math to obtain the correct results.  Since my soon-to-be-three-year-old was pounding a plastic toy against the tile floor of our highly acoustic house as I attempted the math, I decided it was best to use the suggested yarn.  And, since my stash is well-stocked and I really can not justify to WMH why I should go and purchase more yarn, I decided to make a substitute.

Well, little ole me started feeling ‘o-so-smug as I selected a yarn from my stash that had the same WPI as the suggested yarn.  I knit a swatch, obtaining the same gauge as well.  Feeling extra smug now.  I CO and began the Calorimetry, which is a relatively quick knit.  In a few hours I was nearly finished and inspected my work.  Wow, this thing looked like a feminine pad for an elephant, I am not even kidding.  I would show you pictures but I was so horrified that I frogged the thing immediately.  Trust me, your mental health and suffering has been spared by lack of photos.

What was the dealy-o?  I mean, I did everything right, right?  Why was this happening to me?  Wha, wha, wha (the sounds of violins in the background)

Well, lets examine the yarn itself: 

imgp1175.jpg 

This is the yarn I used    

  imgp1177.jpg

and these are two strands of the yarn   

If you consider that the end is curling back in the top strand, then you would realize that the two pieces, which are the same length, are almost exactly the same length when one is stretched and the other relaxed.  There isn’t much ‘give’ to this yarn.  But, how is it that the WPI and the gauge are the same as the suggested yarn?  Well, WPI is WPI… you can’t change that fact.  If I get 8 WPI, then I have 8 WPI, unless I want to squeeze another wrap in there.  Gauge however, well that gauge is a tricky thing.

You can knit a piece that is 4″ x 4″ and it will look, feel, stretch in just the way you expect it to, as in this case.  But, if you knit a piece that is 22″ x 22″, you may get very different results.  Why?  The added stitches will weigh the fabric, particularly if it is a dense fiber, and you may find that you knit differently when you are knitting a larger piece such as a sweater or afghan than when you knit a smaller piece such as mittens or scarves.  In my case, the yarn I chose to substitute, while it was 8 WPI and I did obtain the same gauge of 20 sts x 22 rows in a 4″x4″ swatch, seemed to g-r-o-w as I added the stitches necessary for CO.  The fiber itself is very dense, resulting in very little stretch in a larger piece, making a heavy fabric.

What to do now?

Well, I went with my original idea.  I mean, if I was willing to spend my precious time knitting a piece I was only going to frog later, then I can spend 5 minutes to do some math, even with noisy toddler in the background.  Using lace weight yarn, I figured I would have to CO 210 sts and the results are working out great:

imgp1179.jpg

I have one gripe about the pattern, it does come out a bit wide for an average person’s head.   Of course, if I just do a bit more math, the problem is solved.  If I make this again, I will definitely shorten the width.

I am nearly finished, then off to the Post to send out to my swap partner… :) 

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Just Knitting?

February 21, 2008

happy 

When I started this blog, it was with the intention to keep my rants, observations, experiences, coveting and such limited to knitting.  Recently I realized that this little blog is severely neglected, I post occasionally or in spurts.  I have a ton of knitterly ideas for this blog, many of which will never reach you since I am currently limited to this WordPress account.

Yeah, the pocketbook is tight right now… but you wouldn’t know that would you?

Another realization, I do not discuss myself, my life, here.  While I truly love knitting, I spend only a fraction of my time doing so.  So, I have decided to open the doors a bit and let you all inside my nutty little world.  I have never participated a Meme before.  I know what they are, I find them interesting but I myself have never filled one out before.  There seems to be 100’s of ‘templates’ out there, some of them literally have ‘100 things about me’.  I don’t think I could possibly find 100 things to write about myself but how about we start out with 20-ish? 

  • I have 3 children, and one on the way – that’s why the pursestrings are tight ;)
  • I am married to WMH (Well Meaning Husband) whom I love dearly
  • We currently live in Italy due to WMH job
  • I love good tea and enjoy good coffee 
  • Cooking and especially baking are very comforting to me
  • I love food, there isn’t much I won’t try
  • Chocolate is a Food Group… White Chocolate is not
  • Alpaca and blends are my preferred fiber
  • Bamboo Needles are essential for me 
  • I am a native RI gal
  • Prefer warmer, non-humid climates
  • I like fast cars
  • I miss fast cars :(
  • I have 4 sisters and 4 brothers
  • I am a home-body…yet…
  • I love to travel
  • I am not as active as I should be but…
  • …my Doc says I am the picture of good health ….
  •  …I know it will catch up with me one day, very soon
  • I love order and organization but….
  • …I have a hard time maintaining

There, a little insight of me.  I think I will begin posting other subject matter in addition to knitting.  It may keep me posting on a mo’ regular basis.  Any objections or comments?  You can PM me or leave your thoughts below.

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Flower Basket Shawl ~ FO

February 20, 2008

Have I ever mentioned how much I love Ravelry?  I mean, I really, really love it.  Like a kid loves candy, I love Ravelry.  I can’t get enough of it.  And, as if it couldn’t get any better, Casey and Jess keep adding new features, making Ravelry a knitter’s dream.  If you do not have Ravelry, sign up now!  Yes, there is a waiting list.  Yes, it seems like forever before your ‘in’, but once you pass through the portal of the Welcome page, your knitting life will change forever.

How so?

In my last post, I mentioned I was having trouble blocking my Flower Basket Shawl.  This had never happened to me before and I could not figure out what the problem was.  In addition to posting here, I posted my issue in Raverly as well.  I received a flood of PMs and direct responses to my issue.  I tried the first suggestion and Viola!

FBS FO

See that?  No pins there!  The points stayed!  Yea! 

 So, what was the problem?  A dear Raveler suggested that the yarn I was using had a high oil or lanolin content and that I should wash again in very warm, almost hot water. Well, considering I had washed in quite tepid, almost cold water, I re-washed and re-blocked.  Thankfully, that worked.  Another Raveler mentioned that the issue began before I started knitting since I selected a yarn that contained polymide.  I myself considered this at first.  In fact, I thought of this before I began knitting, but I was assured  through another Raveler at that early stage that the ratio was ‘okay’.  Still, I think in the future I will knit lace with wool, alpaca or silk and steer clear of  any elastin-type fiber.

Thanks to all who helped me with this little issue! 

 ETA: Can you believe it?  Among the many suggestions I received, Katie Himmelberg of Interweave Knits sent her suggestions along as well!  Noting that the yarn I used contained polymide, she suggested steam blocking… which would have been my next choice had the re-washing not worked!  Thanks Katie!


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All Lace is Not Created Equal

February 19, 2008

Bad Brambach, Saxony, Germany

 

 So here’s how it goes: Last summer, our family went on a really peaceful vacation to Bad Brambach, Germany.  It was so peaceful, we were feeling somewhat ‘lost’ without the convenience of a super center of some type.  Low and behold!, during one of our daily excursions, we happened upon a Globus, (think Super Walmart).

As we made the rounds in this huge store, I remembered why we came to Germany in the first place… to escape this hustle and bustle of our every day lives.  But then, well, let’s just say I spotted some woolen goody-ness and all was forgotten.  We walked out of the store 25 minutes later with some needed supplies and two bags full of yarn.

 Flash forward a few months to September, when my sister announced that she and her fabulous boyfriend were engaged! Can we say ‘squee!‘?  A September 2008 wedding was planned.   I resolved that I was going to knit my sister a lace stole for her wedding, something she will have forever.

Well, as with most things in life, plans change… four times.  The date was moved around to various dates in September, then to the summer, then to the spring.  Two weeks ago, my dear sister let us all know that she and fiance are going to elope, in early March.  !!!  I went from having plenty of time to knit something beautiful to four weeks!   I am a turtle knitter folks, this news was not taken lightly.

Still, I was determined.  I thumbed through every book and magazine I owned, I searched every pattern in my computer, I Googled  ‘lace stoles’ for hours.  There was just no way I could make the design I wanted in the given amount of time, not at my knitting pace.  I felt anxiety and depression as I was about to concede and join the other well wishers in sending a gift card to Bed Bath and Beyond or Williams-Sonoma.  Grump.

 

A few days later, as I reluctantly re-shelved my knitting books and magazines, a page fell out of Interweave Knits, Fall 2004… The Flower Basket Shawl by Evelyn A. Clark.  This was the one.  It was a short, sweet knit.  Easy-peasy.  Just perfect for a March elopement… not too fancy, packable, wearable.   I went through my stash and chose forgotten yarn from our Germany trip.

Grandius

Grandius

 I cast on that evening and finished knitting yesterday.  Last night I hand washed the shawl and pinned it to my blocking board.                                                       

 

FBS, center

FBS, center, no flash  FBS, r FBS, edging

The photo on the top is a true color photo, the other photos are taken without the flash, so as to capture the lace detail.

 This morning, I checked to be sure that the shawl was dry before I started to unpin it. I unpinned the center point first, it rolled up towards the top!  I unpinned three more points, each point doing the same thing, Wha!  I quickly re-pinned the points and stood, starring at the shawl wondering, ‘What went wrong? How do I fix this?  Am I going to have to start over?  Will I indeed have to send a gift cards to Williams- Sonoma?’ Then, I walked away.   Not by choice, mind you, but I had to walk the older kiddies down to the bus stop. 

 Once the bus closed it’s door, I sprinted home.  Visual: Imagine a pregnant woman, in her substitute pjs (yoga pants and WMH t-shirt), hair a mess, no make up, running down your road in the early morning.  Ha.  

 Again, I stood before the shawl.  Where did I go wrong?  I still do not know.  Now I am searching the net, asking knitting gurus this question.  I am also pondering as to whether or not I should break out the iron and steam block… but first I have to find the iron because it gets little to no use in this house.  Have any dear reader run into this situation?  Please share or I will indeed be sending my sister a gift certificate and this shawl will become a dust rag. 

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Interweave Knits Spring 2008

February 4, 2008

There has been a lot of buzz over in Ravel-land this past week.  Amongst the usual chatter, there are many opinions of the newest edition of Interweave Knits, Spring 2008.  It seems that many Ravelers are not very happy with this season’s issue.  Why?  The chief complaint I have heard is this, “The pieces are too similar.”  In addition to, “Most of these pieces do not suit the average woman.”  Well, before I give my two-cents, let’s show a sampling of what IK, Spring 2008 has to offer:  

Mirabella Cardigan Mirabella Cardigan.Detail

Mirabella Cardigan by Jennifer Tallepaneni 

Drawstring Chemise Drawstring Chemise.Detail

Drawstring Chemise by Connie Chang Chinchio

Banded Peasant Blouse Banded Peasant Blouse.Deatail 

Banded Peasant Blouse by Mary Jane Mucklestone

Linen Trumpet Skirt Linen Trumpet Skirt.Back

Linen Trumpet Skirt by Kat Coyle 

Flutter Sleeve Flutter Sleeve.Detail

Flutter Sleeve by Pam Allen

 

 This of course, is only a sampling of what you will find inside this season issue of IK.  You will also find a pullover pattern, two lace stole patterns, a sock pattern by Chrissy Gardiner, a modular scarf pattern, a beautiful lace vest by Eunny Jang, a few cardigans, a child’s dress pattern, as well as a few other assorted tops.   And, let us not forget the Staff Projects that will be available online.

 My two-cents:  Yes, there is more than one cardigan pattern.  Yes, there are two lace stole patterns.  Yes, there seems to be a theme in this season’s aesthetic.  What is the theme?  Well, I am not an expert but a few knitters happen to agree with me, Classic Movies. Several pieces seem to call out “Audrey,” “Katherine,” “Marylin.”  But, in my opinion, each piece is unique to itself.  I would not say that any pieces are similar, each piece has it’s own style and detailing.  Further, I would add that most of these pieces would suit many shapes.  

This is the Spring issue.  Spring is about color, femininity and layers.  I believe that each of the designs in this seasons IK, captures the essence of Spring.   Am I going to knit every piece?  No.  But, I am going to knit at least one…