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Archive for the ‘Knitting’ Category

Color Correcting

Much seed stitchIf I thought that my stars were turning out too skewed towards pink/purple/blue… well, two of the projects on my needles are going to add some greens into the mix.

The first is my Margit in the Wind hat, which is proceeding… very slowly. That is what happens when you are working on size 0 needles, I suppose – I’m almost to the place where I fold over the brim. The second is my Sunwalker shawl, which is certainly moving along (except that it is going to use over 1000 yards of fingering weight yard, so moving along is really a relative concept).

So textureIt starts out with a lengthy section of seed stitch, which isn’t fast going but is giving the shawl a beautiful texture. I’m using Knit Picks Palette for this one as well, in the colorway Rainforest Heather. It’s a dark green with heathered spots of teal and red, which is much more beautiful than that description makes it sound. I like the use of a heathered yarn in a situation like this – it lends visual interest, but doesn’t take away from the design elements of the piece. I purchased it during a Knitpicks sale a couple years ago, intending it for a sweater, but I’m happy with this use.

I’m really excited about this one! I love the combination of seed stitch texture and lace, and for my wardrobe the dark green color will be very versatile. Like many office dwellers, I work in a building which is approximately as warm as Siberia in January, so a nice wool garment is always appreciated.

This is my second project by Melanie Berg this year, and I’m starting to think that it will not be my last. (The first project, a Drachenfels shawl, was finished just before I started back up with blogging again. I’m including a picture here for illustration and because I love it). Rustic chair bonusI have the yarn for an Ashburn  (Purl Soho Linen Quill in Turmeric and Salt + Pepper, plus an unknown third yarn in natural white/cream – I’ll be swatching to see which one works best out of my stash) and during the yarn crawl  that I’m going on with my mother I’m going to keep my eye out for yarn for a Rikochan or Solaris. Her patterns are well edited, fun to knit, and so far have turned out really, really well. Consider me a fan.

I find this shape of shawl (asymmetrical triangle/boomerang) to be very wearable – they stay on well for me and look more modern to my eyes than traditional center increase shawls.

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A difference between how I knit now and how I knit in grad school is that I have become much more of a product knitter instead of a process knitter.

Don’t get me wrong, I am still highly unlikely to knit something if I don’t think that I will enjoy doing it. But at this point in my life, I really am knitting for the finished product. Which means that I want measurable progress on my WIPs and I start to get frustrated when I go a while without it.

This is probably why it is a really bad plan for me to have three projects going at once, one of which is at work (with maybe half an hour a day to work on it, not a whole lot gets done), one of which is on size 0 needles, and one of which uses nearly a sweater-worth of fingering yarn (and starts out with a veritable ocean of seed stitch).soooooooo tiny

I only have one photo for this post, which shows the tiny amount of progress I have made on a new project. Pattern is Margit in the Wind, knit on size 0 needles with Knitpicks Palette yarn. I saw the pattern and knew immediately that I wanted to knit it, in nearly the same colors shown in the example photo (the blue and green variation, though the pink one is nice too). The color in the photo is Lichen, but I will also be using Shoal, Opal Heather, and Sea Grass. I started this particular project because my other two main WIPs, the beige and stripey shawl of this post and a different shawl which I will write about soon, are getting too big to haul around and I want to be able to take things to knitting group with me. I think it is going to be a great spring and fall hat, in contrast to some of my heavier hats that I wear in the winter, though with the lined brim and double stranded body it might actually end up quite warm.

When I finish a project – mostly likely the seed stitch shawl I am working on at home – I might drop down to two WIPs. It would be nice to see measurable progress on each.

 

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Back in 2013, I knit my younger sister, K, a Luxury Holiday Garland. It was a clever pattern, which used some simple short rows to create little six-pointed stars, and the end product was appropriately oohed and aahed over at my family’s Christmas Eve gift swap. I loved it. It seemed like the sort of Christmas decoration that might come out year after year, colorful and cheerful. K's garland - a charming rainbow pileThe issue was that I started it far too late in the year. I was knitting stars up until 12/20, blocking them until 12/22, and stringing them together on 12/23, cursing my procrastination the entire time. It was one of those projects that I enjoyed knitting for somebody else, but knew I wanted to knit again so I could have one of my very own. Of course, it took me just over three years to get around to doing it, in part because I was pretty burned out after that initial garland. Each star isn’t particularly time consuming on its own, but to get a good garland – apparently I’m a garland maximalist, because I feel that they are incomplete without at least 15-ish stars – is not an insignificant feat, and doing it on a time crunch was less than ideal.

My garland - skewing heavily towards blues and pinksSo this year, I had a brilliant idea – every time I finish a project, I’m knitting a star with the leftover yarn. Done a couple at a time, it should never feel particularly onerous, and when holiday season comes around all I will need to do is string them together before I have myself a lovely garland. An additional benefit is that I will be able to look at it and think of all the projects that went into its making – already I have the yarn from multiple hats, a Drachenfels shawl, and a pair of thrummed mittens.

An interesting side effect of this plan is that it throws my color choices for projects into sharp relief. I’m up to 8 stars at the moment, and they are skewing heavily towards the blue/purple/pink end of the spectrum. Pink is especially understandable this year – I have knit an inordinate amount of pussyhats, for myself and friends – but seeing them together and imagining how I want my garland to look makes me realize that I either need to branch out on colors or decide to knit some stars out of stash. Bring on the yellows and greens! It also makes me consider my yarn weight choices a bit – my natural inclination is towards fingering weight, but now that I have a couple worsted stars in the mix I feel like I need to balance them out.

Updates will be forthcoming.

 

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Beige and Stripey

img_2209My early attempts at knitting during breaks at my current job were, in hindsight, probably cursed.

On paper, I have a great commute. A pleasant walk to the subway, a fairly brief ride to downtown, a quick stroll to my office. There’s a bus I can take instead of the walk if I feel like it, and if one subway line is misbehaving (in winter, especially, always a possibility) there are two more within a reasonable distance.

My commute is cursed when it comes to knitting.  There was the time that a pushy fellow passenger bumped me and my bag into the wall hard enough that it snapped a wooden dpn. There was the time that I bumped myself and my bag into the wall hard enough that a metal needle pierced my bag and almost stabbed me in the process.

And knitting in the break room wasn’t much better for concentration. I’m in IT. People come to find me at all times. So anything that included lace, colorwork, or anything else that could be considered tricky inevitably got mangled. And when the goal of lunch time knitting is to relax, needing to carefully frog rows of mangled lace just doesn’t hit the spot.

All this to say that I have decided to have an office project, and that this project is a simple little garter stitch number in baby alpaca, which is lovely to knit with during my all-too-brief lunch breaks. Pattern is Swedish Lines by Caroline Wiens, knit in Cloudborn Fibers Baby Alpaca Fingering. I couldn’t stand the fabric I was getting on the called-for size 8s, and I don’t need a shawl that large anyways, so I’m using size 4 circs. Progress is slow, but I like what I’m seeing so far.

And as a bonus, I haven’t destroyed any needles or bags on the red line recently. And my rates of accidental needle stabbing have gone way down.

 

 

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I apologize profusely for my absence, both to you, faithful and possibly imaginary readers, and to myself, since really you are always the one who loses when you don’t meet your own goals. In my defense, it has been an absence full of classics, hard work, and even some sleep, so it’s not like I wasn’t accomplishing anything. However, the same forces that have kept me from blogging have also kept me from knitting as much as I would like.

I have finally managed to finish up my Opus Spicatum, though I have not as yet managed to take any very good pictures of it.  Here is a photograph that I took before I left for spring break; notice the poor lighting and odd angle from which it was taken.

Opus Spicatum, photographed quickly and at an odd angle.

As of yet, I have not managed to take it outside to take better photos (of it, or my new haircut. I have quite short hair now!) It was a lovely little project and I would highly recommend the pattern; it’s well written, easy to follow, and generally quite simple. It isn’t a particularly slouchy beret- this is good for me, because I’m actually really not a fan of slouchy hats in particular, but if you are you might want to take this into account when you are knitting it and use a slightly larger needle size for the body.

Since the end of that project, I have had several other projects going. The first was a Selbu Modern that I made for my friend Claire over break- this was also a fun knit, but since I didn’t take my camera on break with me I have no pictures of it and so cannot show you the finished results. Claire assures me that pictures are on the way. The second project has been a massive scrap blanket.

Blanket!

A closeup of the blanket- it is going to require some serious blocking.


I have taken all of my wool or wool blend worsted scraps, placed them in a box, and started knitting squares. The squares are all roughly six by six inches, and I intend to keep knitting until I have run out of scraps, or possibly patience, whichever one comes first.

And that is all for now!

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A Blocking Dilemma

Back when I started college, I was a novice knitter. I knew how to knit, purl (incorrectly, I later realized), cast on (with one method), bind off, and very little else. Essentially, I could make scarves and hats, if you didn’t care about them being plain and the fact that every other row of stitches was twisted.

Then I met my friend Alexis. Alexis, it turns out, was also a novice knitter, but both of us were in some bizarre place in our lives where we needed to prove our worth and machismo by blatantly lying about our knitting abilities. She would bring up cabling, and I would nod wisely and say that of course I could cable. I would then run home and teach myself how to cable. She taught herself stranded colorwork. I took on one of the more insane colorwork projects of my life, which contained some rows with five colors, as a first project.

The Turkish cape. Someday, I will screw up the courage to try this again.

In the space of about two years I taught myself how to do cables, lace, intarsia, fair isle, and pretty much every other fancy knitting skill that I can do now, mostly through the help of knitty articles and youtube videos. It was insane. Of course, Alexis and I slowly started to claim certain skills as ours, and actually got legitimately good at them, and at some point we even got to the point where we could admit to the other one that we didn’t know something.

One skill that Alexis took to and I never really did was lace. In part this was because I didn’t think that lace looked as cool as cables, and in part because it took me several years to figure out how to actually do a yarn over, and this meant that when I attempted lace it often came out looking rather odd. (I’m still not sure why this was as difficult for me as it was. Yarn overs aren’t exactly complex.) And while I can knit lace now, I still tend to do it only as an accent in projects and not as entire projects. Then one day I was looking through patterns on ravelry and fell in love with Hemlock Ring, and immediately decided that I was going to knit one of these someday. It took me a bit, but a few weeks ago I cast it on. I knit for a while.

The blanket, pre-blocking.

I was kind of nervous as I was knitting, because it looked a bit wonky, but I reminded myself that lace always looks weird before you block it and told myself that everything was going to be fine. When I doubted this, I contacted Alexis and she told me that it was going to be fine. Better than fine, even. It was going to be lovely. And I do trust Alexis, so I kept on knitting (and knitting, and knitting, and then binding off for forever.) And when it was done I gave it a bath and then pinned it out to the desired dimensions.

The blanket, mid-blocking.

It looked beautiful for a while! I wanted to steam block it but the iron here is terrifying and really not safe and so I told myself that all would be fine, and the fact that it looked absolutely beautiful was proof of this. Unfortunately, all was not fine. When I unpinned it, it was already starting to get a little wobbly, but I put it on my table to take pictures and said that it was all going to be ok.

Post blocking, day 1.

I gently folded it and stuck it in my basket of things that I needed to take better pictures of. Then I took it with me to get more pictures several days later, and by that point it basically looked like it had never been blocked.

Lots of wrinkles. Many, many wrinkles.

So, it clearly needs to be reblocked. And I’m going to admit something that I would never ever have admitted at the beginning of college; I don’t really know how to do this better. Somebody help me?

Also being blocked at the moment is my Opus Spicatum, which was a very quick project and lots of fun. Full writeup on that when it is dry and I can take some pictures.

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In an attempt to accomplish goal #3 (that is, the diminution of my stash) I have been working on some small colorwork projects that require small amounts of several different yarns. This is good for my knitting soul. Conveniently, these projects have all had Latin names. This is good for my classicist soul. Today, everybody wins!

Quo Vadis? Mittens, finished.

The first project was a pair of Quo Vadis mittens, made for my lovely housemate Jess. I liked this project mainly because it was very quick, fairly amusing, and used up lots of random bits of yarn that I had forgotten that I had. Actually, it was a lot of fun to remember which projects different colors came from- the cream came from a hat for my brother, the teal from a pair of gloves for my sister, the various colors of Wool of the Andes from many pairs of French Press Slippers, the light yellow from a skein of Lamb’s Pride that just won’t end…

Though I’m not entirely sure where the name Quo Vadis came from, in this context, it did make me think of the movie Quo Vadis, which is one of those movies that as a classics major you get roped into watching at least a couple times, much like A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum or Ben Hur.  (Though I love A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and have never actually seen Ben Hur.)  I’ve watched Quo Vadis about three times now, and that is enough for one lifetime.

Project number two is not quite finished, but in an effort to take more knitting photos I do have a shot of it in progress.


Opus Spicatum, in progress.

This is the first half of anOpus Spicatum beret, which I first queued 2 years ago and have never gotten around to knitting.  It’s knit with wool of the Andes in fedora and some more of the skein of light yellow Lamb’s Pride that really apparently is never-ending.

Opus spicatum, if you are wondering, is a kind of masonry construction technique where bricks (or rocks or what have you) are laid in a herringbone pattern.  It’s often used for pavement.

Now, the funny thing is that, despite the fact that I have over 3,000 pictures from my time abroad in Rome, I can’t find any pictures of actual ancient opus spicatum. What I found, after extensive searching, was this photograph:

Opus spicatum on the stairs!

This is a picture from a museum (I suspect the archaeological museum in Tarquinia) and if you look on the stairs you can see some of the herringbone pattern that is opus spicatum.

There are many days when my classics life and my knitting life do not overlap, but sometimes they do and on these days I am happy.

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