Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Whose brilliant idea....

was this entrelac yoke nonsense anyway?

What a pain in the patootie to work.

Nineteen little eight stitch triangles. Back and forth and back and forth.

Ok, that was an exaggeration. I'm knitting backwards instead of turning and purling. Turns out it's a useful skill to have, you should learn it.

Not that it makes things easier. I'm totally taking a break because my fingers were cramping a little.

Also, don't try to multi-task while you're working entrelac. And by "multi-task" I mean watching something on TV that you actually want to see.

I finished off this first round while "watching" Shrek Forever After. Yeah, almost restarted it because I didn't really feel like I saw it.

No Turning Back

On the other hand, I feel like I've come to far to change my mind now.

I thought the 10 rows of decreasing (every other row) at the start was going to kill me, but this foundation row was a killer.

Still, it would be a shame to waste all of my hard work so far by frogging it and doing a normal raglan yoke.

I'm going to move forward with the faith that it's going to look awesome and be worth the extra effort.

However it does make me wonder about the insane people who knit entire sweaters in entrelac.

Entire Sweaters. shudder

Yarn Worries

Of course it will only look awesome if I actually manage to finish it. If I run out of yarn it's going to look pretty sucky.

Does entrelac take more yarn than stockinette? It must, right? I mean, it's a stitch pattern and stitch patterns always take more yarn.


Well, I have another, different, blue skein on tap for when this one runs out. Then there are some green yarns left to fall back on.

But what if I run out in an akward place? What if I don't even make it through the first oblong row?

Man, I should have worked those decrease rounds in green yarn and saved the blue stuff for the real entrelac.

Wish I'd thought of that two days ago.

Ok, time to put the kettle on and start picking up stitches. There are oblongs to knit!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Green Schleppy: Join Sleeves to Body

Green Schleppy joinedThe Green Striped Schleppy Sweater is back in play.

Have I mentioned the Green Schleppy to you? Oh, once, back in April to complain about the sleeves.

I started this sweater during my single ball, striped project, hoard wrangling phase several months ago. Specifically February.

I'm following the pattern for the Schleppy Sweater I designed for myself last year.

Wow, was that already a year ago?


The idea was to use up many single balls of green yarn I have. The stripes on the body are each 15 rows. The mess up on the sleeves came because I didn't account for the fact that the sleeves were going to have more rows than the body and didn't plan to make the sleeves stripes either narrower or wider to account for that fact.

Nope, the sleeve stripes are each 15 rows as well.

This led to me working through the stripe sequence and coming up short on length. After pouting over it for a bit I decided to restart the sequence and also accelerate it to get the top of the sleeves on the same yarn as the top of the body when I joined them.

I think it will be fine.

Entrelac. Are You Insane?
Since I knew from the cast on that I probably wouldn't actually have enough of the green yarns to finish the sweater I also selected two blue yarns for the yoke.

I figure it's the yoke, it can break from the rest of the sweater.

Then in March I came across Meg Swansen's article in the Holiday 2010 issue of Vogue Knitting about working an entrelac yoke.

This seized my imagination. I was already working the yoke in a different color. Making it in entrelac would just make the color change appear justified.

I looked up her other articles in the series in case they had helpful information.

I tracked down my Spring 2007 issue of Interweave Knits and taught myself entrelac using the tutorial.

I did some math to prepare for the entrelac even though I was still working on the sleeves.

Knitter's Block
And then the sweater stalled.

I had too many WIPs and this one was tossed aside in an attempt to pair down what I was working on. After all, summer was coming, I wouldn't need a long sleeved, wool blend sweater for a few months.

I know I function better with just one project at a time. Ok, maybe two. I can see progress. I don't have decided what to work on. I just pick one up and go. Still I can't stop myself from casting on multiple projects. Especially when I get mad at an uncooperative striping sequence.

Ironically, my abundance of WIPs was a contributing factor in me getting this sweater out again.

The thought of my multiple WIPs overwhelemed me and I decided that I just needed to finish something. The Green Schleppy seemed closest to completion as well as easiest since it is mostly stockinette stitch. (At least until I get to the entrelac part.)

Another inspiration was the copy of Custom Knits by Wendy Bernard I picked up on Saturday.

It's an interesting book. The patterns are nice, but really I'm after the instructions about knitting top down sweaters in the back of the book. I intend to apply the knowledge to all those lovely skeins of sweater quantity yarn I've bought at fiber festivals lately that are destined to be other Schleppy Sweaters.

Also, the Green Schleppy was sucking up a large number of needle resources. The body was on a long Denise cable. The sleeves were being worked two-at-a-time in the round so they were taking up a set of DPNs as well as a long cable and set of Denise tips. Not to mention numerous stitch markers.

Heading for Disaster?
I don't know if it was the idea that I can't start a new sweater until I finish an active sweater or the desire to be knitting one of my own designs, or a need for US6 needles, but I ran and got the Green Schleppy out.

Having joined the sleeves to the body last night I've freed up all those needle resources and reduced it to a long cable and needle tips. I've also freed up the knitter's block and feel like I have good momentum to finish it.

Now I'm working through the initial raglan decreases and heading toward the entrelac. I've already realized my initial math was based on incorrect numbers. I'm smart enough to wait until I finish these first 5 decrease rounds before I start crunching numbers again.

And then the fun really starts.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hoard Enhancement

Elsebeth Lavold Angora Hubby and I had a busy day on Saturday.

We had to take the car for an oil change. Since the dealership is in the southern part of the state near Hubby's new Karate Dojo he decided we should get an early start so he could go to the Saturday morning class.

Then we developed a laundry list of things to get at the mall since we'd been in civilization.

But I'm not here to talk about boring mall shopping. I'm here to talk about yarn!

After I dropped Hubby off I scooted over to The Yarn and Fiber Company over in Derry. This store was recommended to me by Pam's sister Nancy. I'd seen their booth at the NH fiber festivals I've attended but hadn't been to the store yet.

It's a big place, with big windows, so it's well lit and has aisles you can actually walk down. They also have a wide variety of yarns. I could hear laughter and chatting from a class, which I discovered at a big table in one corner. Another corner had big couches and chairs. Probably where the knitting group meets.

I didn't go with the intention of buying anything, I was just looking to kill an hour while waiting for Hubby. (True, I could have sat in the dojo lobby watching the training and knitting, but why do that when there is a yarn store within striking distance)

Then I stumbled on the book section. I was reminded of my quest for the Lucy Neatby finishing book (no dice) and the other Elsebeth Lavold viking knits books (also no).

They did, however, have a number of other Lavold books, which I flipped through. This led me to decide that although I like all her designs it's really her winter patterns that make my heart pound.Worf pattern by Elsebeth Lavold

This led me to flip through The Embraceable You Collection a couple times.

The pattern that forced my hand was Worf. How can I resist a pattern named after an awesome Star Trek character? It is described as a sweater with detached sleeves, but it looks like a tunic vest with matching armwarmers to me. Although the sweater is neat, it's not really my style. But I'm all about the armwarmers.

Also, as you may recall, I'm currently obsessed with her hoods after seeing them at the museum. The ones at the museum just had ribbed necks. The Niella hood in the book flairs out to a cowl reminicent of my beloved Solo Cropped Poncho.

Although the armwarmers and the hood aren't a pair, they have the same feel, so I figure I can totally wear them as a set.

So I decided to get the book and take my chances on finding yarn that would work since I knew it was an older book. Until I came around a corner and found a display of EL's Designer Choice Angora right there at my eye level.

Elsebeth Lavold hood patternHow very convenient to find the actual yarn for the patterns I as about to buy! No worries about yardage, or drape, or texture substitutions. Obviously I had to get enough for the two patterns I wanted to make. Especially since I knew the yarn was discountined. I might not have the opportunity again, at least not as easily.

The color selection was, admittidely, limited, which made it an easy decision to go with my tried and true blue. Logically, I got the same color for both projects since I'm going to call them a set.

The Worf pattern calls for 2 skeins for the sleeves. I wonder if these means each one will take one skein. I haven't read the hood pattern through, but suspect it starts at the cowl. Still, I'm thinking I'll make Worf first so I can put any extra yarn toward making the cowl longer.

Of course another option would be to make the hood first and use any spare yarn to make the armwarmers longer.

But, who am I kidding, it's going to be a while before I actually make either of these projects.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summer of Socks: It's a Start

Cotton spiral start Or a cuff, as the case maybe.

In either event, I finally started my first Summer of Socks sock. This morning.

Last night I ended up fooling around online, then when I settled down to knit I realized I had to clean the kitchen. Of course doing that made me rather pissy. Then when I was able to sit down and relax again the closest project was the Yellow Lace Top.

Well, I did manage to cast on about 6 sts last night, but they weren't going well.

I started with the outside tail of the Panda Cotton as the inside tail seemed fairly buried.

It wasn't pretty. Or, more accuratly, I stopped before it got ugly.

As I worked my long-tail cast on the yarn started untwisting on one side of the needle and kinking on the other. Uh-oh.

This morning I jammed the guts out of the ball to find the inside tail and the cast on went much more smoothly.

You can really tell in that bad picture I took (it's a very gloomy day here in NH) but I'm using my new Darn Pretty Needles that I bought at the NH Sheep & Wool Festival.

They are presenting another hiccup. First, and some people may like this, the points are really, really pointy/sharp.

Some people really like pointy points, but I'm not one of them. I can see the advantage for working pattern stitches that pull the yarn tight, but they don't work well with my knitting style. I tend to push the tip of the left needle with my right forefinger and pointy needles lead to a sore finger.

Another issue that they are size US1.5 and I think they are a little big for this yarn. The ribbing is just a wee bit soft, which is fine for the ribbing, but I think won't translate well to the body of the sock.

Now that I'm done the ribbing I'm going to transition over to my faithful Brittany Birch US1 DPNs, which should solve both the gauge and painful finger issues.

Well, I think that is all I have to report at the moment.

Onward to the leg and the pattern stitch!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Done: Flashy Socks

Flashy socks This is not a Summer of Socks project.

This is an attempt to distract you from the fact that I didn't actually start my first Summer of Socks project yesterday.

When Hubby was outside grilling our dinner the neighbors up the hill started squawking at him. This resulted in us carrying patio chairs and our plates up the hill to hang out on their front lawn with the other miscreants.

And me without my knitting.

These things happen. You understand?

Project Recap
You will perhaps remember the Flashy Socks from the beginning of May when I originally cast them on. I've been working on them idly since then. Eventually I hit a point where I was more done than not and decided to focus on them.

They were also helped along by a business trip I went on last week (which was the cause of my recent lack of blogging. Although at this point it's more a surprise when I do blog). Socks, of course, being my preferred travel project.

Yarn: Aussi Soxxi from Oasis Yarn. Color #4
Needles: US 1
Pattern: My generic stockinette stitch to fit me formula

Of course the exciting part of these socks is that this is Rhinebeck yarn! Bought back in 2009. Phew! I've finally used some Rhinebeck yarn.

It's nice yarn. Was soft but otherwise not terribly remarkable in either direction to knit with, which can actually be a good thing. The magic happened when I put the finished socks on. So nice and squishy under foot!

I always wear my socks (almost) as soon as they are done without washing them first. This pair in the hamper now. It will be interesting to see what the washed yarn is like.

Not that I'm implying I'll remember to report on that topic.

Ok, let's see if I can get these cotton socks cast on now.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer of Socks!

panda cotton Ready, set, go!

Yeah! Summer of Socks is here once again.

Another summer dedicated to at least the idea of knitting socks, socks, socks from now until Sept. 21.

I did not do very well last year, what with the move and all, so I'm determined to do better this year.

Good thing there aren't actual quotas to meet!

This is another low key, go at your own pace year. phew! Although there are three featured patterns this time. One for each month. We aren't required to knit them, but it gives the whole period a KAL kind of feel.

Solidarity in stitching!

Anyway, the first pattern is Summer Spirals by Jersey Knitter (as in New Jersey). It's a cotton anklet, but the pattern says it will work with blends.

But cotton she wants, so cotton I'll use. Specifically the Panda Cotton pictured at the top of the blog.

Thanks to the wonders of Ravelry I can see that I bought this yarn all the way back in 2008 (gasp) and had peg it to at least two other patterns that I obviously haven't knit.

Maybe it's finally this yarn's time.

Still Hoard Wrangling
This fits in nicely with my current stash control idea, since the Year of the Sweater thing is working out so well.

Anyway, the current idea is to have one new-yarn and one old-yarn project on the go at any given time. Eventually consumption will meet in the middle and the hoard will be depleted.

Or the new yarn will be replaced as rapidly as it is used (or faster). Nature abhors a vacuum, after all.

So do the puppies and I, for that matter, which is why I try not to use mine much.

Anyway. Although Summer of Socks 2011 only officially kicked off at 10 am ET I've already seen people posting about finishing the first sock of the pair.

Either they are really fast knitters or it's a really fast pattern.

In any event, I haven't knit a stitch on any project today so I better at least get the sock caught up.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Field Trip: The Belknap Mill

Toe machine Last Friday the trouble makers in my Library Knitting group informed me that Patternworks was having it's annual tent sale over the weekend.

Of course I didn't need new yarn or new books, but when has that ever stopped us before? Another thing not stopping me was that Hubby was out of town (he's home now) so I was running loose.

I managed to avert my eyes from the yarn and waltz out with just "Getting Started Knitting Socks" by Ann Bud and "Sock Innovation" by Cookie A. Both on sale, wheee! They did not have either the Neatby finishing book or the Lavold books I've been seeking. Might have to break down and have someone do a special order for me.

Socks! Socks in a Museum!
After finishing at the store I headed over to the Historic Belknap Mill to take a look at their sock knitting machines.

I'd found out about this place a few months ago. One day Hubby came home from school and said he was bored and we should go exploring. I checked out the Visit NH website for nearby day-trip type activities, but by the time I'd settled on the Mill Hubby had fallen asleep. So perhaps he wasn't bored as much as he was tired.

Not that I think he would have found sock knitting machines as fascinating as I do, but he's a good sport. (Well, we both are, really.)


The sock knitting machines were so cool, even if I didn't get to see them in action.

The museum doesn't really have Saturday hours, but they were open because there was a Sock machine greenwedding reception on the third floor. The downside was I could only explore the first floor because there was a wedding reception on the third floor.

Historical and Stuff
The first floor was the gift shop and one big room with a bunch of knitting machines.

Apparently the area was a hot bed of not only sock knitting but sock knitting machine building back in the day.

I found a script they use when school groups are in and it gave instructions when to turn on the machines. I could also tell some of the machines were functional because they had in-process socks on them. But the real clue was that the mill sells socks knit on premises in the gift shop.

The were plaques on the walls explaining the knitting process and how different machines made different parts of the socks. Of course, different people were trained on each step and there were even little kids who had to turn the socks inside out for one part and then back right-side out for the next.
BNM socks
As is often the case, the plaques said the first machine operators were men and then women slowly took over. But while the operators switched over to women, the machine fixers continued to just be men. Of course my modern sensibilities were annoyed by this.

It's not like these people where going to school and college for this; it was all on the job training. Did no women express interest in being fixers? Where they laughed at because women were too delicate or not smart enough?

It made me feel fortunate that we live in a time (and country) were (most) people realize that although there may be biological differences in the way men's and women's brains work we can equally rise to the challenges placed before us. And that with proper training I can complete a task even though I'm a woman.

Oh, another thing that gave me a turn was realizing some of the people quoted in the plaques might still be alive. Or were until very recently. The place was built in the 1800s but operational until the 1960.

In addition to the machines that knit socks there was a machine that knit I-cord! At first I wondered why they would want all that I-cord then turned around to a table of toe-less socks and saw shoelaces.

The socks were of a very fine weight and fabric. The yarn coming off the cones looked lace weight and you wouldn't catch me hand-knitting socks with yarn that thin. Driving over I'd wondered if there was a machine that did the ribbing for the cuff. Turns out they did a reverse stockinette cuff. That was one of the jobs, switching the sock from one machine to the other to make the cuff.

It made an attractive cuff for the socks at the Mill, but I think I'll stick with ribbing on the socks I knit.
Sock black hole

Part of me had been secretly hoping they'd have functioning, tabletop replicas of the machines for sale.

Boy howdy, could I blast through my sock yarn stash if I had a sock knitting machine! I could crank out the legs then do the feet by hand. I might have to knitting the ribbing by hand first, but that would have been fine.

All those day dreams were just that, though, since they didn't have machines for sale.

They did, however, have an original hand cranked machine for the home knitter. It was as big as any of the electric machines. It was not for sale, but there wouldn't have been room for it in our apartment anyway. And I think my sock yarn stash would have been too thick.

The museum doesn't have an admission price. It is supported by donations and sales in the gift shop. As I mentioned, they sold socks knit on-site in the gift shop. They also sold the shoelaces and loops of knit fabric like kids use to make those loom woven potholders.

They were very nice socks and decently priced, but I was pretty sure they'd be too big for me. Instead I bought a pair of the "Darn Tough" hiking socks, which are made in Vermont. They will come in handy if Hubby and I follow through on our declarations of doing more outdoor activities now that we're back in NH.

I also bought a cute little wooden ruler.

Knitters Everywhere
I would be remiss if I did not mention that half the fun of the museum was that the staff member on duty (another Ann) was also a knitter!

We had a grand time talking about knitting in general and knitting socks in particular. I confirmed things she'd been told about how wonderful Ravlery is and we found each other on Twitter.

All in all, it was a fun and educational afternoon.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ruben Revisted

Ruben swatchIn a paroxysm of Elsebeth Lavold love brought on by my visit to the "Knitting Along the Viking Trail" exhibit I hauled out the supplies for the Ruben sweater after I got home.

This is another sweater for which I bought the supplies back in 2004. So, yeah, it's been in my stash a while. Like I said yesterday, at the time I bought it I wasn't up for cables.

I'd also like to point out that I bought these during my one month stint of working at Patternworks. (It was only a month because right after I got the job Hubby got the job offer that took us to Connecticut.) At the time I had just turned into a yarn snob. I was unaware of the existance of yarn stores across the country. I was very sure I would never see such fabulous yarn at employee-discount prices again and I stocked up!

And then I moved to Connecticut and got a job at another yarn store and continued to stock up, but that's a different story that has been told in posts since I started this blog.

Rejected and Saved
In addition to my lack of cable skill, Ruben was held back because I'd secretly bought it to make for Hubby and was biding my time until he might want a sweater.

When that time finally arrived in 2009, he promptly rejected it. sigh.

At which point my older brother swooped in and claimed it for his own.

He asked after it when I was down there for Memorial Day. We were both surprised that it was two years ago.

Swatching, bleh
I knew that I'd gotten as far as swatching unsuccessfully before I tossed it aside for other projects.

When I dragged it back out I found my swatch, but no indication of what needles I'd used. sigh.

At that point I decided to take a knitting hiatus. My elbow was still sore from when I hurt it back in February. My chiropractor has been telling me to stop knitting to give it a chance to heal, but I haven't been listening to him. I decided maybe he knows what he's talking about.

Of course the knitting hiatus lasted for all of three days before I snapped on Friday and started working on my Yellow Lace Top.

With the knitting door reopened I returned to the mysterious Ruben swatch.

The pattern calls for US4 and US6 needles. I figured I probably started with US6 and went to US7 when I didn't get gauge.

I ripped out that old swatch and tried with US7 again. The first swatch was so long ago, who knows what in my life has changed.

Didn't get gauge so I moved on to US8 needles.

Didn't get gauge and the fabric was starting to look floppy and gross. The middle section of the picture is the US8 section.

Wrong Direction
I stared at the swatch unable to comprehend why I wasn't getting gauge.

Then I realized I was getting too few stitches per inch. The gauge is 21 sts in 4 inches and I was getting around 19 sts in 4 inches.

I wanted to be getting more stitches per inch. I should have been going down in needle size, not up.

With the light bulb flipped on I abruptly dropped down to a US5 needle and instantly got gauge.


The part I knit on the US5 is at the top of the swatch in the picture. See how much narrower and denser it is than the other sections? Now that is a nice fabric.

Now that I've got gauge all I need is time to knit.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Field Trip: Knitting Along the Viking Trail Exhibit

Me & sweaters The "Knitting Along the Viking Trail" exhibit opened at the American Swedish Historical Museum in Philadelphia in March 2011 and closes July 3, 2011. If you are reading this when I actually wrote it there is still time for you to dash down there and see it. The trip would be worth your while.

As I was preparing for the visit to mom's house and the museum over Memorial Day weekend I wracked my brain to figure out why I didn't go in March when the exhibit opened and Elsebeth Lavold was there doing workshops. Then I remembered it was the same weekend Hubby and I left for our March Break trip to Park City, Utah (which I never told you about). Well, a girl can only do so much.

Since we were there on a Friday afternoon, mom and I had the exhibit hall to ourselves, which gave me plenty of time and space to run from one end to the other examining each piece from many different angles. It was very exciting to see in person the sweaters I've been mooning over for years in the pattern books.

I discovered Lavold's designs in 2004, pretty soon after I learned to knit.Trud Even at that time I knew cables would be a love of mine and bought the "Viking Patterns for Knitters" as soon as I saw it. Seeing the sweaters in person gave me a new appreciation for how they are put together and the details that went into the designs. It seems silly to say that seeing them in person allowed me to see them in a new light. Of course the sweaters look different in person than in a picture.

I was especially excited to see the Trud sweater, which is from the first Viking Knits Collection book. I fell in love with Trud in 2004 and bought the book and the yarn even though it was beyond my skill level at the time.

Then my skill level caught up and I wondered if I really wanted all that fabric from the pleats around my hips. So I started considering other ways to use the yarn, but kept coming back to Trud.

Well, seeing the sweater in person I found that the pleats don't add a lot of bulk after all. The Silky Wool yarn is light and has good drape so there isn't really a massive amount of fabric around the waist. That was very exciting to see. Trud was back on my to-make list! All I have to do is scale down the top. The size small has a 34" inch finished chest, which will be around 3" of ease for me and a tad more than I like.

Vigdis The other change in perspective I had was from seeing Vigdis from Viking Patterns for Knitters and Skjalf from the Second Viking Knits book.

They both have these form fitting, detached hood. I always thought the hood on Vigdis was a little goofy looking in the book. Turns out they are really cute in person! The Vigdis one is just plain stockinette stitch, but the one for Skjalf has cables on it.

In fact, mom and I left the museum discussing how practical they looked. They keep you warmer than a hat since they cover your ears and neck, but they don't block your peripheral vision and catch the wind like a traditional hood would. Having seen them in person I really want to make one now.

It was also inspiring to see the dragons in person that I want to use in my Celtic Critter Cardigan. There don't seem to be patterns for Urd and Saga, the sweaters I'm standing with in the first picture on the post. But they gave an idea of what can be done with the cables. Getting to examine the details of the sweaters up close and see how they were put together was very informative. I took lots of close up pictures of shoulders, sides, collars, and other parts unseen in the pictures in the pattern books.Saga

Well, I could go on and on about how wonderful all the sweater were, but I think you get the idea.

I'll wrap up by mentioning the blanket picture from my last post.

The afghan was massive! It was all her swatches from Knitting Along the Viking Trail sewn together. Once again, some of the patterns that didn't impress me in the pictures in the book turned out to be very attractive in person.

But I think my favorite part of the blanket was the filled in spaces. Little areas where the swatches didn't come together square that were just filled in with grey garter stitch. That amused me terribly.

I guess because those little grey spots showed it was handmade.