Knitting update

Yesterday I went to a knitters group that is meeting at LYS2 (website still under construction). I found the group by Googling LYS2 and found the Meetup site for knitters in this area. They meet every Sunday at 3:30. They had been meeting elsewhere but have moved to the new yarn store. It is a really nice group of people and I’ll try to go when I can. There are several people on Ravelry so we need to connect up that way too. I also had a really good cup of tea. I particularly enjoyed meeting with other knitters because I have missed all the guild meetings this year. Knitters was canceled last week due to weather. Weavers is canceled tomorrow because the plow from the street completely blockaded our parking with big mounds of ice.

I am continuing to make progress on the baby gift for CS. I need to seam up the sides of the shirt. I guess I could post a picture, but it isn’t that exciting to look at right now. I have about 4 1/3 balls of yarn to go on the blanket. I am still hoping I can get it in the mail in a week. I am using more yarn than the pattern calls for, although my gauge seems really close. I barely have enough of the orange. I definitely need the extra ball of the multi-color green (it calls for 6 balls, but my estimate is 6 1/3 balls – each ball does 27 rows and there are 170 rows, including cat on and bind off). I might have enough left at the end for another baby hat—possibly in the infant size. I might make it for the new baby across the street, who I have yet to meet.

In other news – the weather was very nice both days. It was sunny and warm and felt like spring. That is, if you ignore all the snow and ice. The ice is really thick in many places, making the roads very bumpy. There was a huge puddle on a nearby street (an intersection that we walk or drive through every day). TH and I went out to find the drain. We worked quite hard on one spot where we first thought it was, but we were wrong. TH assessed the whole area again and the next time found it. When we (mostly he) made a channel for the water it went whooshing by. We also cleared a drain on our street, but it wasn’t as hard to find or clear. On Sunday, we took care of another drain. The ice was super solid for about the bottom 6+ inches. Above that it was just really hard. I had no chance on the super solid ice.

Why did we do this if it is warming? Because today we are expecting cold rain turning to ice and then snow is expected and it is supposed to be below zero for the rest of the week. The huge puddles would have gotten even bigger and then frozen into large ice rinks. DJ had a similar situation a few weeks ago, but she and her neighbor were looking for the drains in the rain as the water was rising on her street.


Yet another hat for DJ

When in Philadelphia, I bought yarn. I told JQ I would make something with some of it before a conference in Atlanta next month. So, I made another hat for DJ. I have yet to make a hat for myself. I have only made 1 for TH. I’m not sure I’m that happy with the hat, but that hasn’t stopped me from wearing it. I thought I would make Foliage out of this yarn. I realize the color is not like foliage, but I thought it would like nice anyway. The pattern is for 2 weight of yarn. You end up with 96 stitches for one and 64 for the other. Unfortunately, I determined that 80 stitches would be right for this yarn. Because of the construction of the hat, I wasn’t sure how to adjust it for a different yarn size. Out came The New Knitting Stitch Library to find a lace pattern that would work in about 80 stitches.

hat 10A
Pattern: none (see below)
Yarn: Terra, the Fibre Company, African Violet (1 skein)
Needles: size 7, double point for rib, size 9 for rest
Began: February 2008. Completed: February 2008

hat 10E
Cast on 80 stitches. Work 1×1 ribbing for about 8 rounds. I should have inserted a plain row of stockinette before I started the pattern, but I didn’t follow pattern 218 (multiple of 16 stitches). Repeat 2.5 times. K2tog (or P2 tog) all stitches for 1round, knit (or purl) one round, k2tog (or P2 tog) etc. until you have decreased to 5 stitches. Break yarn and pull end through loops.

The color is better in the outside shot. The sun was so bright on the snow on Saturday that I couldn’t keep my eyes open for the photo.

Review: The yarn book

The yarn book : how to understand, design, and use yarn 9780713669558 by Penny Walsh is a book we are adding to the spinner’s library. It is not specifically for spinners and I thought it might be of interest to knitters as well. The book covers the history of spinning, materials, yarn spinning mechanisms, handspinning techniques, yarn in fabric and contemporary yarns. The handspinning techniques chapter isn’t so much about how to make the yarns as describing and defining different types of yarns, especially novelty yarns. This could help a knitter have a better understanding of yarn so she can better choose commercial yarn. The chapter on yarn in fabric is primarily about weaving. The book defines many different types of fabric (from barathea to velvet).

I have done quite a bit of reading on the history of spinning and on different types of fibers so this was largely a review, but in general it looked quite good. The book gives a pretty good overview to many aspects of yarn, but it really is an overview. To be fair, I read the book quickly today because I need to bring it to our meeting on Tuesday (and I’m busy tomorrow)—I purchased the book in November but I just now got it read, procrastinator that I am.

Some of the spinning techniques and their photos were a little confusing to me. For example, p.87 has a pictured labeled “spots being inserted into ply” and the same photo on p.92 is labeled “plying thread winding across slub”. Both captions seem appropriate but using the same photo makes it more confusing for me.

Also, some of the fabric definitions confuse me, such as the difference between “Crepon: crepe yarn in weft only, giving fluted vertical pleats” and “Moss crepe (silk): woven from pairs of alternating ‘S’- and ‘Z’-ply crepe yarns in weft only to give a spongy handle and good draping quality”. Crepe is defined as “pairs of alternate ‘S’- and ‘Z’-plied yarns in wasp and weft,” so if you put this into the crepon definition the structure sounds to me like it is the same as moss silk.

One other thing I am unsure about is the placement of bamboo in the cellulosic fibers (with flax, cotton, hemp, jute, sisal, nettle and paper) rather than with the regenerated fibers, like rayon and viscose. My understanding was that bamboo yarn was made in much the same way as rayon and not flax and hemp (see these sites).

Despite these problems, I think it is a good overview collecting together a lot of information, and a book I can easily see JQ or DJ being interested in.

Rating: 3.4

It’s snowing

OK, that’s not really news, these days. At least the freezing rain stopped–I prefer the snow.

Yesterday was beautiful. We took a nice walk downtown to do some errands. We also went to the new yarn store in town! That’s right, the yarn store in the neighboring town will now need to called LYS3. The new LYS2 is downtown and walkable at lunch from work. It also sells interesting fabric and has a coffee bar. This might not be a good thing for my budget… I didn’t get anything when there, although many things tempted me. I had nothing in particular I needed and I didn’t want to try TH’s patience. Several days ago, S went there and bought a bunch of stuff. I’m hoping she will blog on it. Janna may also blog on it since I saw her there enjoying a coffee (with her new yarn).

You know you keep the house too cold when you find an icycle in it.

In knitting news, I bought some yarn for baby presents for CS. The shower is in early March so I need to be moving. The hat and booties are done. I have just started the jacket. And then there will be the blanket. The yarn is Bamboozle (55% bamboo – 24% cotton – 21% elastic nylon) from Crystal palace and I am using one of their free patterns.


Review: Luxury knits

Luxury knits: simple and stylish projects for the most desirable knitwear 9780764158230 by Amanda Griffiths was not a book I had heard of when I picked it up from the recently returned shelves at the library. It sounded like it might have some nice things in it. It is a pattern book with a small amount of information about luxury yarns and some good pictures of finishing. The garment diagrams are all at the back, which I find quite inconvenient (and I thought they were missing until I finally got to the back of the book).

There are over 20 patterns, none of which I have any interest in making. Part of this is that I can’t see using an expensive yarn like cashmere for a draw string bag or a baby shirt that will need to have all sorts of things cleaned off it (and also is a short use garment that I feel is inappropriate for cashmere, but that is another discussion). Some of the garments are attractive, but very simple and not unusual (the garter stitch scarf and tam made of kidsilk haze and Rowan 4 ply are attractive). Others are just unappealing to me, such as very wide necklines falling off the shoulders or lacy sweaters that I fear I would instantly snag.

What makes this book less appealing is that i don’t think the sweaters fit the models very well. I think that many of the sleeves are too long, giving a heavy bunch look on what should otherwise be a very light sweater. Even worse is the cardigan that has a seam in the back that bulges out in the lower back. Another cardigan has very uneven front panels, off by probably two inches at the bottom. The sides should be even – it just wasn’t blocked correctly or is hanging poorly and not showing the garment well.

The lace cardigan and camisole is fairly nice, but I would lose the ribbon. I thought the tank was relying on it for shaping, but when I finally found the diagrams it turns out the garment is somewhat shaped.

Rating: 2

Review: Cables Untangled

Cables untangled : an exploration of cable knitting 9781400097456 by Melissa Leapman contains the basics of making cables, several patterns and a stitch dictionary. The instructions look clear, although I know the basics of cables and have not tried to use the instructions for more complex cables. She includes tips, like purling the first stitch after a cable through the back of a loop (and correcting the twist in the next row) to avoid an elongated stitch in the pattern. She includes both charts and written instructions for the first few patterns. She also gives some tips for designing with cables.

There are several patterns I like quite well. I particularly like the Two-Color Pillow. I think S might really like the Little bag with handles. I also like the Harvest Tweed Afghan, which pairs bold cables with lace and the Entwined cables pillow.

The stitch dictionary includes 24 rib patterns, 54 panels, and 43 allover patterns. I know there are other stitch dictionaries for cables and I haven’t compared them. There are some very nice patterns, but also a fair number that I don’t like based on the sample picture. However, it may be that those I don’t like on their own would look really good as part of a larger design–this is definitely something I need to learn about.

Rating: 3.8

Review: Morehouse Farm Merino Knits

Morehouse Farm Merino knits : more than 40 farm-fresh designs 9781400097449 by Margrit Lohrer is an attractive book. It talks about the farm, the sheep and how the business got started. Morehouse Farm was one of the first merino producers in the United States. They now dye the yarn in many pretty colors and the looking at the colorful projects with the soft wool certainly perked up a grey February day.

The book includes a fair number of designs for children that are bright and fanciful, often incorporating animal shapes. The other patterns are for fairly simple garments; if you want complex patterns, this book is not for you. The author enjoys knitting as relaxation and a time to think, as she describes on p.16:

My approach to knitting is pretty simple: I want to knit, knit, and knit some more. My favorite projects are yards of scarves and acres of blankets. Stop-and-go projects bother me—stop and check, stop and read, stop and count—they don’t give m time to think. Knitting is the time when I digest the day’s events, my life’s, and the world’s. Life’s meaning, for me, resides in the rhythm of knitting. And to come to grips with what’s happening around us in this world of flashing images, quick talkers, and meaningless sound bites, you need hours of knitting.

The projects incorporate slip stitches, dropped stitches, knitting into the row below etc. to achieve some nice results. I like the huck lace shawl, which is based on a common weaving pattern. I also really like the Indian corn hat and scarf because the pattern and colors in the yarn do such a good job of mimicking the corn.

The author includes several projects for the home that are felted (often just slightly). This seems like a good approach with the pillows (see the cover of the book). She knits the pillows in the round. More interestingly, she knit the blanket in the round. After fulling, she cut it apart between the first and last stitches of each round which gave nice, straight sides to the blanket.

Rating: 3