Monday, April 21, 2014

This year Easter is school holidays

Which in this case means a full two weeks off work, at home, with cubs, and the kind of weather that means staying indoors is a good plan. I've been knitting, even finishing a body of knitting, done some frogging - because knitting seamless means you can and should try things on - and adjust for size before a whole sleeve is knit. And I've also been adding to my embroidery kit ...finally making some sturdy legs to hold my slate frame up off the table in an elegant way. And there has been a new project started - but it's a secret, for the local mid-winter swap, so I can't tell you about that in too much detail.


This is the knitters study group hat, constructed sideways with short rows, and the seam covered by a leaf motif. The leaves are also worked as the lower edge of the hat. Iover the years I've worked my way through a variety of short row techniques, starting with classic wrap and turn, in all its forms - lifting the wrap and knitting it, lifting the wrap and adjusting the mount so the resultant knit stitch lays flatter. I've also been a big fan of Japanese short rows, and never really mastered yarn over short rows which some call German short rows. More recently I think I have found my holy grail of short rows, the paired, shadow or twin stitch. I first discovered these in the FLKH sock pattern, where they are called twinned stitch honors rows, but have since come across the. Under many names. I love these, they are easy to work easy to see when worked, and melt into the fabric like - well a shadow on a dull day. When ever I worked wraped stitches there was always some little hint of the working, a looser stitch or a bump in the work - no so with shadow wraps.

So the hat, it's soft as only something with 20% cashmere can be and in blocking it fuzzed delightfully. I worked the full eight leaves /short row wedges, and after initial tussles with the chart on the first leaf found the pattern quite straightforward. The chart does have an error, which is listed as errata on the ravelry page - but for a chart it is not very visual. None of the increases or decreases line up, which is weird, when knit they do, and the chart has lines which are offset as the leaf increases and decreases - so there is no reason the pattern should visually line up.

This is the hat blocking, on a hand blow glass bowl that upside down is just is perfect for blocking hats. When worn the hat has a nice amount of slouch ...and matches both cubs eyes nicely ... so I assume it matches mine. Blue eyes run in the family, bear has them as well.

Folded the hat makes a lovely shape, it's long rather than round ...which I guess is how the slouch happens. Before blocking the leaves were bowed, concave, cupped, post blocking they were much more relaxed, nice and flat.

Not sure if you remember these, the remains of Bears grandmas dining table, I think these were the tips of turned table legs. In this condition they are about 50 years old, as far as we know, and the table would have been older than that. We found them twenty years ago tucked away against the wall if the carport, saved for some future use. Last year I rediscovered them and realised that they would make excellent legs for supporting a slate embroidery frame above the table. Yesterday bear drilled out holes in the tops and I added cork to the bases.

The cork was to provide a slightly soft, and grippy stable base to the turned wood bits. I want to call them legs but as they have been trimmed to wee short things stumps seems a better term. So yesterday I sanded, trimmed cork, sanded the edges, glued cork to the bases, and rubbed the wood with a wax and linseed oil polish. Today I plan to set up the frame, and test it by working on my circle beaded sampler ... and knit a little on my secret swap knitting, and make bread, and hang out washing, and keep the cat company, and make a lunch that doesn't need to be transported easily to work, and all the things that I can't do when work looms large in my day.

Take care, I know there are more things to blog about ... So all going well another post might happen this week.



Saturday, April 05, 2014


Today's post is another in the line of finishing and plodding. There is a baby due at work, the mother leaves at Easter to make that transition from working couple to family of three with the 'responsibility' of a child. I've been there, and survived, and like most parents found that it was both more work and easier than I imagined. Easier in that at the end of the day if your baby is alive, growing, feed, warm, and showing an interest in the world you have succeeded, more work in that it takes all your mind, all your waking hours and some that you would rather be asleep during. Scary in that there is this little helpless living person totally depent on you, and wonderful in when you get it right they smile, sleep and grow.

A few months ago, well last year to be truthful another work friend gifted me a fleece. I embarked on my first real project of fleece to knit project, I washed, flicked, carded, spun, plied, knit, and blocked. The finished blanket is 580g, and probably more a cot blanket than a crib blanket.

The pattern was Quadrature for Kerrigan, but foreshortened. As I carded and spun I realised that I either had two fleeces, one short dark grey brown, blocky locks and soft, the other longer, grey less soft and paler grey locks. At first I processed the locks as they came to hand, then as I got more a feel for the fiber I began to select out locks of simillar colour and feel. I ended up wth skeins that varied in colour, at first more variegated and then either light or dark grey. I decided to use the different colour skeins to mark the transition in the pattern from blanket center to blanket border.

I loved the pattern but was a little confused by the options. I'd been attracted by the stocking stitch center, and the garter border with the twisting cable at the corners. As I read the pattern I realised there were options, I could have a stocking stitch edge or other variations. I knew I was working with the yarn I had ... Rather than spinning yarn to make the pattern as written, so I followed the pattern as a guide rather than a rule. When I realised that I didn't have enough yarn to complete the boarder with its three twisted bubble cables I decided to finish the blanket with a single bubble at each corner and mid point. It still has a nice wide boarder but I wonder how much more dramatic it would be if the boarder was the size specified in the pattern.

I also needed a more portable project and fell back on washcloths. I prefer the term wash cloth over dishcloth as ours are used for more than dishes. I had three colours of sugar and cream cotton, in size medium. I love the colours but find this weight dries to slow here to leave damp, even when wrung out the cloths are cold and wet to pick up and use later. Bear wanted some heavier clothes to use in cleaning and this seemed a perfect solution. Knit thick durable cloths that could be used then tossed into the laundry. Patterns are double bump, Chinese waves and snakes and ladders, 5.5mm needles and all cast on 41 stitches. I think I have enough yarn left to knit a multi stripe one or two.

This week was iD fashion week in dunedin, so there have been lots of talks and shows and events ... All of which coincided with a blood test revealing a rather low iron count. Some how knowing I had a physical reason to feel tired made me feel more tired. Good news is I'm taking iron and vitamin c tablets, eating lots of high in iron foods, and cutting back on the iron sapping foods and activities. I am looking so forward to this coming week, of having a little more energy, plus Deirdre Nelson is talking at work, and it's only a few weeks until the next holiday.

Take care, na Stella


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Finished object ... Or FO!

Today there is an actual real life finished object, a knitted one. Finishing things often has a follow in effect, it can lead to a feeling that there is space, time, and the opportunity to begin something new. That is a very real danger of finishing projects, and comes in part from the feel good sensatio. (Dopamine?) of finishing and the desire to set up a situation to repeat the sensation. There is at least in this knitters world, a much more stratightforward path towards the excitement and happiness of finishing, to choose another work-in-progress(wip) to finish. That is what I did - not with one but with two WIPs.

The infinity cowl is all done, there were some dramas along the way (reported here - rav link so you have to sign in to read). Mostly to do with my stupidity, and how far I could knit whilst worried and yet not worried enough to stop and check. Short version is that when casting on for a möbius you need the circular needles to twist around themselves exactly half a twist ... I had a full twist and a half so an extra twist in my scarfs. Didn't bother little cub but it did bother me. And the bonus with frogging was that I could slide it off the needles and check if my estimated cast on was a good size.

I cast on 350 stitches on 2.75mm needles, and worked three rounds of knit, then three rounds of purl until I had nine knit sections. I cast off with larger needles (3.25mm,or maybe 3.5mm I forgot to note down the details) using a three stitch icord cast off, the icord was a nice rounded edge that mirrored the rolls of the knit and purl welts. At some point I weighted the yarn before and after a round, and discovered that a round used 1.76 grams, using that I estimated I needed to leave 8-10 grams to work the cast off icord edge. I may have got a littl bored at some point and added a row of k2tog YO eyelets .... But littl cub didn't notice until after the fact and seems to like it, her exact words were - it's Ok don't undo it,

There is just on eight grams of yarn left - so I might have been able to squeeze another round or three in ... But maybe not. Little cub has plans to use this to make a simillar cowl for her AmericanGirl Dolls (Kit &Saige). I'm not quite sure how to knit a doll sized one ... But we can fathom that out together.


Which brings me to the KSG hat, I've wound the dyed cashmere merino yarn onto nostephine, and begun to knit the pattern again. This time the yarn, the shaping and the cable are all working together nicely. I have four leaves knit, and need another four before knitting the closure. The hat is sitting upon a wip that has also received recent attention - the Handspun - hand knit baby blanket.

Unfortunately the blanket if made from woollen spun yarn - so fuzzy to look at, and from dark naturally coloured fiber, so too dark to see the details. The blanket is ending up large, and dark and cushy warm but the outside rounds are now long and take ages to knit. I don't think I will have enough yarn spun up, or processed to finish the compete cable chart on th edging but I have a plan to just garter stitch the boarder until my yarn runs out.

And whilst I has fossicking in my work basket looking for things to knit, things that were close to finishing I rediscovered the Sleeven cardigan. I've only the sleeves to do ... So I sat one night and knit a little in the sleeves, good progress so far, I'm about a third of the way down the first sleeve, and trusting that blocking will work its magic with this BFL yarn and even everything up.

There is more happening in the background ... Knitting, and such ... So I promise to come back latter to fill in the details.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Normal knitting resumes

Well if by that I mean sudden project cast ons, while existing projects languish in the wip basket, and distractions like dying yarn and fiber. Saturday was KSG so a new and mystery project that usually introduces a new technique or approach. This class was no different, introducing a hat knit sideways with a cable leaf edge. The instructions were to bring a 2.75mm needle and fingering yarn. I played safe and brought grey yarn left over from a previous project.

I liked the pattern, and loved the construction, but realised that the yarn wasn't really a great match for the hat. So at home frogged what had been knit and hunted out something more suitable.


I dug this out of stash, a merino cashmere fingering weight from an Australian Indie dyer who is no longer selling. I've always loved the yarn, how soft it is, but never found the right pattern for the variegated yarn. The colour runs are short so the yarn tends towards stripy ... And not in a great way. While this would make the short row sideways shaping a feature, that isn't a look I am wanting for this hat.

So I decided to overdye the yarn, and while I was doing that I pulled out a soft grey brown fingering possum blend yarn that I always passed by. This was also a yarn I loved the fiber blend of but not the colour.

A few hours latter and I had two blue yarns, possum on the left, cashmere on the right. They are mostly dry as today was a warm sunny autumn day, but I will wait until tomorrow to wind into a ball and start.

Take care from Stella the easily distracted knitter.