Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pron and a Plan

So one of the Retreat sessions I took at SOAR was Playing With Carders And Fiber.  Actually, I forget the official title, but that's totally what it was about.  Denny and I set to it with a vengeance, not stopping for anything as wasteful as actual spinning to see how the batts turned out, preferring to use our creative juices for naming our blends.   I confess, some names I have forgotten (though I have the tags somewhere), though the white skein above results from our Feng Shui blend.  My favourite name by far is the one that resulted from Denny's desire to create a blend called Dead Clown, and being faced with the fact of no more primaries left, and having to make do with magenta and purple instead of red and blue, which led to Dead My Little Pony.  I think it's somewhere there in the blue marl skein or perhaps the green.

The green, I think.  I see sparkles.

Anyway, I have perhaps two ounces of fiber which really ought to have a purpose, y'know? And I've been going round and round.  Given that I Knit Sweaters (and occasionally socks, but only using commercial sock yarns because I hate spinning worsted and I'm tired of handspun socks with holes), and given that I'm bigger than newborn (a sweater for same might actually require no more than the little pile above), I had to be thinking about something interesting and inventive to do with colours.

Stripes are dull today.

I thought that a short-rowed yoke with built-in garter stitch neckband might be fun, though probably not all that attractive.  

Icelandic-style yokes are on my Meh List.

I do immensely admire Norah Gaughan, and if we weren't (probably, I think) around the same age, I'd yearn to grow up to be her, at least my knitting self would.  I'm not sure who my spinning self wants to be, nor my beading self, nor my opinionated self - but I digress.  Norah has been fitting geometric shapes together the last few years, which so plays to my weakness (as in "I love modular knitting", not as in "oh no, I'm weak in geometry"), and so it came to me:


Because their symmetries are not (oh, what's the correct mathematical term for it? I haven't been in a math class since a quarter century ago) perpendicular - in other words, the lines which divide pentagons in mirror-image halves are not at right angles to each other - when you join a chain of them one to another, you will not get a straight line.  Hexagons and octagons, on the other hand, line up rather neatly.

What you get, when you join one pentagon to another ad nauseum, is either a wiggly line of pentagons (if you've chosen a connecting side willy-nilly) or - drumroll please - a curve. Eightish pentagons should make a circle that doesn't quite lie flat, whose outside circumference is a little small, that might just, if placed over a head, mimic quite nicely the shape of shoulders.  The edge of the curve closest to the face is nice and smooth, but the edge closer to the arms is ziggy-zaggy.  How convenient! If you pick up stitches along the zig-zag edge, you're perfectly set up for some variation or another of any number of chevron-type stitches (of which Old Shale and Feather & Fan are two well-used members), which also lend themselves rather well to increasing evenly in the round.  Which means no raglan, no set-in sleeves, just a nice circular yoke flowing organically off multicolour pentagons around the neck.

In theory, at least.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Or, as I'd rather believe, because I'm flexible, open-minded, not afraid to adjust expectations according to circumstances.

Pretty sleeves, huh?  One blocked, one unblocked, both with a decent, though not terribly exciting cable running up the centre.

The truths are as follows:
1.  The sleeve, while not tight, is tapered and not ideally suited to wearing over other sleeves.
2.  The yarn is soft enough for next to the skin wear - it has some angora in it, after all.
3.  After blocking, it has a little bit of drape (OK, so I have a vivid imagination).
4.  This wasn't thrilling me as a cardigan.

And so it won't be.  

The only thing I'm keeping from the original pattern (which was not the original pattern for me for this yarn), is the cable, sort of, and the moss (ish) stitch.  Because it turns out that I'm a sucker for saddle shoulders as well as experiments in knitting, the fairly nice cable on the sleeve will extend to a shoulder saddle, BUT with raglan sleeve shaping, which will be slightly less brainless than vanilla raglan shaping.  

For my money and body, raglan armholes are cheap in terms of cognitive effort: once you've reached the armholes on your body and sleeves, you just decrease until either the sleeve stitches are gone, or the neck-hole is the right size.  Yes, you do need to account for the front neck shaping (but you have to do that anyway), unless you like neck-hole strangulation (which I don't), but there's none of the matching the sleeve cap to the armhole and then having to rip out the shoulder shaping on the body to refit the armhole to the cap, which naturally in this instance means the neck too, which is both complete and complex and impossible to duplicate (well, too much trouble anyway) when the cap turns out to have been constructed for a different armhole, which happens when you foolishly start your sleeves from the cuffs rather than from the sleeve cap, picked up and knitted from the armhole so it's guaranteed to fit.

So.  Raglan with saddles.

I have a good bit of knitting (the entire body) before I have to decide what sort of neckline I want.  Crew? Vee? High vee?  Collar? With buttons?  Without buttons? Shawl?

Either way, it's looking like the sort of garment that will just be better as a pullover than a cardigan.  Besides, I have plenty of scratchier yarns which would make perfect cardigans.


Mine mine mine mine mine.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Done, done done done - DONE!

I'm not entirely sure that it's sedate enough to wear to work at a bank though.

Monday, November 19, 2007

There's Only So Much TIME For It All

I have Pron Presentations  (seriously, they're not that fabulous that I feel justified in calling them porn).

Sleeve Pron:
I think I like it.  Naturally, the pattern from which I started turns out to be little more than a vague starting point.  The yarn for which it was written must be something smooth and round and shiny, or otherwise the designer is just a boot camp instructor wannabe, because everything is 1x1 crossed stitches, even IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CABLES.  Yes, I meant to shout.  Not only is this overkill, especially on highly textured yarn like mine (into which the stupid things disappear), but it's also extraordinarily irksome, guaranteeing that I'd never ever EVER, come hell or high water, finish it.  Ask me how far I got with the Bavarian socks in the first Nancy Bush book (like three rows, if that).

The sleeve is a little more tapered than has been fashionable the past few years, but if there's one thing I know, it's that huge bell sleeves Will Not Last Forever.  Yes kids, a fashion prediction.  I know I'm not wrong here.

The cardigan in the pattern has set-in sleeves and very deep armholes, which translate into rather wide sleeve tops.  Given that I have not yet reached the Arms With Wings stage (I've been working my biceps, triceps and deltoids, which are actually painful today - and it's smug virtuousness that keeps me doing it) I have little need for that much ease, and rather than recalculate the sleeve cap, I'm going to go raglan.  I'm also toying with the idea of making an asymmetric zippered closure and something collar-ish, rather than a buttoned straight-down-the-centre vee-neck opening, but I don't have to decide just yet, do I?

While there are times when I really couldn't be bothered, and just want to knit that damn thing in stocking stitch, I would say that this stitch pattern is just the right amount of interesting.  It has (in case the picture is bad, or your monitor is broken, slightly) a central cable on a reverse stocking stitch background, flanked by two pairs of ribbed columns, and the rest is double moss stitch, as is the centre of the cable, when it opens up.  And because I really don't know which language I'm speaking any more (I should just say here that I'm trilingual in knitting needles: I know Imperial, metric and American sizes, except for sock needles, in which I'm only bilingual, since I didn't start knitting socks or using such small needles until I came to the US), but what I know as double moss stitch is alternating knit and purl stitches, stacked two high, as opposed to [single] moss stitch, which is just knit and purl stitches alternated by row and by column.

And now for the Yarn Pron:
I'm not terribly clever with photography, and purples quite frankly stump me.  This is a sort of smokey purple which started off its life as a charcoal-brown Border Leicester fleece mixed with extremely bright royal purple kid mohair.  I finished two bobbins at our monthly eat fest, uh, spinner's get together, and have almost another bobbin complete too. 

I'm going to have lots of this: two bobbins per bump, and I'm sure I have at least six more bumps.  Maybe eight.  (I had to count.  I have nine).  This will end up as a three-ply, probably in the worsted weight area - I'm making an effort to spin a bit heavier, as I want to use this for a coat or jacket of sorts, as it's just not yummy enough for next-to-the-skin wear.  Not bad, but not luscious.   This goes a lot faster than fingering weight three-ply cashmere, even with the Stupidly Fast whorl on my Schacht.

I've finally found my mojo for Amy's necklace, and if not for the class I'm teaching tomorrow, 
it would be finished, but it's close, really close.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Not Entirely Failed

So I've been a busy girl, knitting and beading away (and yesterday, I made THREE DINNERS, so I don't have to do any real cooking until Wednesday, how organized is that!) and while I've produced plenty in the way of volume (I've made practically all the pieces for Amy's necklace), I'm not completely satisfied with what I have.

Hmm, some joined up.  The teardrop is the centre of the necklace-to-be, and the little hexagon lies somewhere about the shoulder line, but I don't think it's quite right.  I may have to lift and separate, eh, separate the components and find another way to link then together.  I have some ideas for a more fluid composition - I think this is a little stiff.

And oh yeah, I have a sleeve - I mean, a SWATCH.  It's long enough for a sleeve, though not really wide enough.  Turns out that before dyeing, I had about 18 stitches over 4" (yeah, knitted back and forth, which for me is not in itself a guarantee of looser gauge, rather, the fact that it's just a relatively few stitches is a better predictor, leading to my dislike of swatching, and my conviction of the uselessness thereof.  It's not bad for ball-park planning, but for precision, an actual piece or part of a piece of a garment is better), and after dyeing (I thought the yarn looked thinner, which quite frankly surprised me after all that swishing and simmering) I get 21.  Whoooops!

Never mind, I'll just do something different.  It's not handspun, so I'm under no compulsion to design my own (OK, so sue me, I sometime suffer under self-imposed compulsions), so in this instance I'd rather just find a pattern at my gauge  - and I have already! (Here!)

The next was a quick little experiment prompted by my need to feel good after the disappointment of The Great Putting Together above.  We're looking at a cabochon (actually, it's a bead, but who's counting?) about 30mm (a bit over an inch) in diameter, and I've used size 11 and 15 seed beads, and 3mm and 4mm fire-polished beads to bezel it, with some very pretty flat-back pearls for decoration.  The chain will probably be a double spiral rope, since I can't figure out an organic way of starting a peyote or herringbone or any other rope off the top.

I've no idea what the stone is, some kind of agate no doubt - pretty much everything is an agate or a jasper, it seems.  What you can't see in the picture is that the faceted grey beads have a soft iridescence which makes them a whole lot more attractive in Real Life.  

Meanwhile the Put Together Badly necklace is looking balefully at me, demanding a much better effort.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

I Know You Are, But What Am I?

You may not believe it, but Things are taking shape:

I have almost all the pieces done, and would have completed more if I hadn't behaved like a knitter while making the focal piece, causing undoing and redoing.  See, the thing is with knitting, you can fudge.  The smaller the stitches, the more fudge.  You can always ease a sleeve into an armhole and graft seventeen stitches to eighteen or even nineteen stitches, but when you are making a beaded open teardrop, which you start at the inside circumference, work one side until you hit the outside circumference, then work the other side, inside circumference to outside circumference again, and then zip the open edges together around the outside, which is very much like grafting, it Just Doesn't Work if there are two more stitches on one edge than on the other.

And while I know I've extolled the pleasures of cutting up wide pieces of peyote (unless you've - oh horrors! - pierced the thread): you just cut the beadwork in the middle, and the beads just slide off nicely, not like square stitch or right angle weave where you find yourself trying to extract two-millimetre lengths of thread from the inside of beads, it's decidedly less pleasant undoing a few rounds, say four or five.  Still, I suppose it's not as onerous as (once again) attempting to undo square stitch or right angle weave, though I think netting would be more satisfying, as each stitch relinquishes at least three beads, often five, and possibly more (though I don't usually do that kind of netting, but I have considered it).

So now all I need are a few more of the little multicoloured tubes, a little square donut, a little round (or perhaps hexagonal) donut and a toggle bar, and all that'll be left is the Putting Together.  Hmmm, and earrings, Amy likes earrings to match.

Monday, November 5, 2007

It's Hard Being Green

Actually, it's annoyingly easy, as it turns out.  

You know how when you go bead shopping and see something wonderful that you just have to have, and you get home and you already have three?  Well, apparently I'm like that with green yarn, and green spinning fiber, and it's not even a good selection of greens, from mint through seafoam, lime, celery, grass, pea, peacock, sage, pine, forest and bottle, and all the ones I neglected to mention, but to all intents and purposes, it's the same green.  

I already have at least two newish (made within the past couple of years) green sweaters and three green cardigans, and when I decided that the only possible yarn I could use for my next cardigan was this:
Well, something had to give.  The white blips are kinda ugly anyway.

Luckily I have dyes and a dyepot and I know how to use them.
I really was aiming for less blue, more teal, but when you don't measure, you just learn to love your creations.

In other news, Amy's necklace is progressing apace, and my new necklace from yesterday is really heavy: my neck is stiff and I have a headache, but that could well be due to lack of sleep or not enough water, the effects of both of which are not that dissimilar.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Just So

Sometimes, sometimes, you just know when you've got it right, and it fills you with a joy that is intensely bright and true.
Oh yeah, I finished the sock and wove in the ends and finally sewed the buttons on my cardigan and printed out kit instructions and ordered beads for kit refills and started making samples for a possible class at Lambspun next year and swatched and dyed yarn, but none of that comes close to making me this happy.

What I really should have been doing was working on Amy's necklace (I still have a plan!) but I was compelled forced led unable to resist the lure.

Luckily there are still more hours this day.