Wednesday, January 30, 2008

On the fitting of vests and downsizing

Thank you for all your compliments about the vest. I tried it on my husband and it fit him better than the last vest I made. When I was knitting this vest, people were surprised about how narrow and small it looked. Of course that was partly because of the broken rib pattern which pulls in. But even accounting for that, it seemed too small to those who knew my husband's size. Well, the last vest I made him was too big. Men's vests aren't like sweaters. They need to fit under things and therefore need a lot less ease than a sweater. In fact, I think they need negative to no ease. The armholes need to be cut in more all around, and one has to take the bands into consideration. So the shoulders always look too narrow till the bands are done. I forgot these basics on that last vest, since I had not made him a vest a long time. I made him one a few years ago that hangs over his shoulders and is too long and too wide. I have to rip it out and re-knit it one of these days. Fortunately, I remembered that gaffe this time and didn't make the same mistake twice.

I haven't knitted a lot this week. I started the Wild Apple Bohus on Sunday but haven't knit much. I am on the boring neck band part. However, I don't want to start the colorwork till my new Knitpicks Harmony needles arrive. I need a 2.25 mm needle for the colorwork as my stranded gauge is looser than my single color gauge. I use a 2.5 mm for the single color body. My only 2.25 mm circs are from Crystal Palace and they are not nice. The yarns catch in the join. I didn't enjoy knitting the Red Palm on them so ordered KP Harmony fixed circs to use. I also ordered the Swan, the last of my much coveted Bohus patterns. I'm done with buying Bohus kits. I have all the patterns I've drooled over since I bought Poems of Color way back when.

I have been reading a book called 'How to Survive your Diet' by Linda Moran. In conjunction with The Beck Diet Solution, I am working on forgetting about dieting and becoming a normal eater. I have gone through decades of dieting and not dieting, but there has been one thing in common all those years. Food was always been front and center. Both these books are based on cognitive therapy and what I'm working on is to think about food when I'm hungry and stop thinking about it at all other times. I am an emotional eater, even when I'm eating 'normally' and what I want to do is break that connection. The downsizing in this case refers to portion size. Linda advocates giving up greed - greed to be thin, greed for food, etc. and also focusing on the fact that stress is tolerable. Judith Beck has a whole program on keeping one's diet goals front and center. I've been working with the Beck Diet Solution program since last summer but I've reshaped the self-talk to focus on normal eating rather than on dieting.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Tapestry vest photos

There it is! The photo is a bit fore-shortened because it is photographed from near the bed. I laid it out to dry on the guest bed so could not get up high enough to give you a close to 90 degree angle for the picture. The neck depth looks very small compared to the body length.This one makes the neck look better but of course you can't see the full length of the body. I love the way the striping worked out. Tapestry seems to have unpredictable amounts of each color. That wide light stripe near the bottom of the sweater is from the same ball of yarn. Of course the wider stripes on the top are due to the fewer number of sts in the fronts vs the body. I like the way the striping ended up around the neck and here's a photo to show the fixed symmetric rib at the V. This is what I messed up the first time. You can't just keep the pattern going as in k 2, k 1 (center st), p2 if you want symmetry. You have to do a k2, k1 (center st) and a k2 on the other side to create the balance. In this case, I ended up picking up 2 extra sts on each side so it wasn't exactly like that but that example illustrates the concept.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Don't knit when you are tired

I started to swatch the Bavarian design but the needles and yarn weight were wrong and I wasn't getting what I wanted. So I put it aside and decided to finish the Tapestry vest which just needed armhole and neck bands. I did the two armhole bands without any difficulty.

Here's a tip that I figured out yesterday and probably is something everyone else does. When picking up sts for something that needs to be symmetrical, count up as you do the first half and count down as you do the second. That way you only need to remember one set of numbers. For example I needed 82 sts on each side of the armhole. Thirteen of these were from the armhole BO. As I neared the shoulder, I realized I had to pick up a few more sts than the usual rate of 3 sts to 4 rows. So around st number 68, I started picking up every row. When I went around the back of the armhole, I just had to remember 68 and 13. I picked up every row till I got to st number 68, then I did 3 sts for every 4 rows till I got down to st number 14 and I was not only perfectly placed for the 13 bindoff sts but I also knew I had the right number. In the past, I would subtract 68 from 82 and add that to 82 to figure out how many sts I had to pick up using the every row ratio and so on. Much less arithmetic this way. Stupid, but then I'm slow when it comes to this sort of stuff.

Anyway, after the armhole bands, I started on the neck band. Did a great job picking up. Did a lousy job planning. The ribs on either side of the center st at the bottom of the V were not symmetrical. I was off by a st or two at the end of the round and decided I was just wrong in counting. Wrong! I found out on the next round that I had forgotten to keep in pattern at the V and I didn't even realize this till I finished the round. I was not in the mood to go back and re-do just that half of the V given I had only done two rounds. So I ripped it out and decided to start over this morning. I should have an FO at the end of the day to report.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Swatching, swatching, swatching

I haven't posted all week because I was knitting things that didn't inspire me at all. I am signed up for two of Jean Wong's classes at the Madrona Fiber Arts Retreat. I had to do my homework for the classes - which consisted of lots of swatches. But not the kind of swatches I like to do. The swatch for the first class, Tailored Knitting the Japanese Way, IS my kind of swatch. I usually swatch in a couple of needle sizes, and I did so here. However, I ripped out the one I didn't like. The yardage in each ball of this yarn is so small that I used up one entire ball in my swatching. So I ripped out the entire swatch and re-knit it in the gauge I liked. The yarn is Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran in a color called Casket. A lovely color but its relationship with a casket is beyond me. The ball band gauge is rather loose and the ball band recommended US size 8 (5 mm) needles. I started with a size 7 (4.5 mm) but the fabric was too stiff. My usual method is to do a swatch in one needle size, then a few rows of garter st, change sizes and continue to do another swatch. This way I can compare the two fabrics. In this case, I went up to an 8, and I liked the fabric even though it was tighter than the ball band gauge. I am getting 4.8 spi here. I got 5 spi with the size 7 which was way too stiff. I think the ball band recommended 4.5 spi. Anyway, I ripped out the swatch, did one in the size 8, washed and dried it, and here it is above.The rest of the swatches were for Fine Finishing Techniques the Japanese Way. There are 11 swatches in all for this class, mostly in various ribs but a few in stockinette. There's 10 of them in the photo above. nine are on the circular needle, and one is sitting down by itself on a st holder in the bottom left. Swatches ten (above bottom left) and eleven are in the round. Each swatch is labeled with its number and needle size (something I have started doing for all my swatches) so I can find it in class when the time comes. These are done in leftover Encore. Last, but not least, the two little circular swatches sitting by themselves on stitch holders. They look cute.

Now I am on to more fun swatching. I am working on a design out of the Lisl Fanderl stitch dictionaries. I spent quite a bit of time redoing the pattern chart in various ways before finally deciding that Interweave Knits, which does a variation of the way these charts are traditionally drawn, was right and followed their example. I tried the usual way that twisted sts are drawn in charts (like Eunny Jang's charts in her blog) and found it way too confusing for the complex pattern I was charting. Here's what I finally ended up with and I think this is readable for me. The little 'b's are twisted sts and the red lines indicate the direction they are traveling in. The '-' are purl sts and the plain squares are regular knit sts. I spent a lot of time last weekend working on charting this in various ways, another reason I didn't have a lot of knitting to share with you.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

And pretty socks all in a row

Well, not really all in a row, but pretty nonetheless. At least pretty from my point of view. Since I don't have any current knitting to show you this week, I thought I would entertain you with some completed knitting. I washed a bunch of hand-knit socks today, as you can see. There they are, all hanging out to dry. Since you can't really see them very well in this all-in-one photo...You can see them in close-ups. There are Opals and Regias and Sockottas with a few Kroy, Stahl Socka and Lorna's Laces thrown in for good measure. There's a pair made out of a yarn from a now-defunct company called Ozyarn. Here's another close-up. This one has some Mountain Colors in it. It also contains one of my oldest pairs still in circulation -the teal pair in the center top with blue, purple and yellow blotches.Nothing too interesting below. The same old Opals and Regias and Stahl Socka. At top right, the grey, red and yellow pair, is of the same vintage as the teal pair in the photo above. This photo has a pair of Meilenweits in it. There are toe-ups and top downs and almost every heel variation imaginable. The really sad or not-so-sad part is that I still have a few pairs that weren't in this batch. Sad because it smacks of conspicuous consumption to have so many pairs of hand-knit socks. The not-so-sad part is that I have so many lovely pairs. I love my hand-knit socks and some of these pairs are true veterans. They are getting close to a decade old and are still providing yeoman service.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

No knitting this week

I seem to be in a non-knitting mood this week. It is partially due to being tired. My knitting schedule calls for things that need a bit of concentration. I have to pick up bands for DH's vest. I have to knit a bunch of swatches that either involve following directions exactly or working my way through some new ideas of my own. I've been coming home very tired and wanting to knit but unable to concentrate enough to work on any of them.

Tonight I am going to bed early and reading National Geographic till I fall asleep. I have been catching up on my magazine reading lately. I had 6-7 months of National Geographic collected without reading. I usually read them cover to cover. So I knuckled down a few weeks ago and started reading them instead of reading books. I am almost all caught up. I only have one left. I love National Geographic because the content is so diverse. I've read about Jamestown (history), sacred cave paintings in India (art), gorillas and bulldog ants (biology), and Pakistan (history and geography). My wastebasket of a mind loves this stuff.

Maybe my next post will actually be about knitting

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Yin and Yang

Yesterday I visited an acquaintance, who may end up being a friend. She is a knitter and quilter and we share a lot in common in some ways. Her mother was also a teacher, as was mine. We spent a lot of time discussing our creative outlets but as I was talking to her, I mentioned some of my co-workers and friends who are very talented artists and craftspeople of various kinds.

One is a fabulous embroiderer and quilter whose work spans machine embroidery and hand embroidery. She also quilts art garments and quilts and decorates quizzical cakes. Another, who is now in California after retirement, quilted amazing quilts and entered them in national shows. She is also a black belt in karate and the quilt she made her sensei when she got her black belt was inspirational. There are many knitters and quilters, but also jewelry makers. Two of my students at work learned to knit because they wanted to make knitted garments for their dolls. They make dolls, outfit them down to the shoes and jewelry, and enter them in competition. Then there are the photographers and painters.

All of these are women who began life as engineers and mathematicians and programmers. There are some history and music majors but also physicists. This year's Women's History month theme is Women's Art: Women's Vision. [For those outside the US, March has been designated as Women's History Month in the USA]. I can't think of a better way to celebrate the many facets of women than through their art and creativity.

Monday, January 14, 2008

On the subject of i-cord

There it is! All finished except for some neatening that this perfectionist must do. I don't like the way the i-cord handles look like on the inside. They are all puffy and pulled in where the sts are. So I will get some wide grosgrain ribbon and sew it on over the handles on the inside to neaten it up. My grandmother taught me that the inside of the work should be as neat as the outside and I still tend to abide by that teaching.

The garter st bottom pieces felted much better than other garter st that I've felted. You can't see the sts at all in this bag. But the i-cord handles did not felt as much. You can see sts there.

As for the i-cord, I think I like it much better when I'm done. It is not fun to knit for me. I like the way it looks on the bag but I really dislike knitting it. However, I don't think I'm a big fan of the braided i-cord handles. I love the way the garter st handles on my first bag feel. They are cushion-y and comfortable. At first glance, these don't feel as comfortable but time will tell. They aren't uncomfortable.

With no planning at all, this bag is going to be the correct size for toting lunch to work. If I decide to use that, I'll have to make a removable liner or tie up my lunch in a furoshiki, which would also serve as a napkin. Otherwise, leaky bits will end up staining the bag.

On a completely different note, I am trying Marmite. I've always been intrigued by it and have wanted to try it. A discussion on Ravelry as to whether Marmite was preferred over Vegemite pushed me over the top and I bought some yesterday. I've eaten it twice. I spread a thin layer on WASA Light Rye Crispbread, topped it with a wedge of Laughing Cow Light Garlic and Herb cheese and another slice of the crispbread spread with a thin layer of Marmite. So far, I like it. It adds some saltiness and complexity to the mixture and seems to keep the cheese from soaking into the crispbread, which is a positive thing when you are bringing the sandwich to work.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

And miles to knit before I sleep

Robert Frost's immortal words were echoing in my head this week as I knitted i-cord - miles and miles of i-cord. First I had to do the i-cord bind off on the top of the bag. Then I had to knit the attached i-cord on the bottom of the bag. Then I had to knit 3 separate strands of i-cord to make the braided handles. OK, it really wasn't miles but it felt like it, especially because I only have circulars in the US 10.75 (7 mm) needles I was using. So I had to transfer the sts from the right to the left needle after each row instead of sliding which is much faster. But I finished it last night.
After the i-cord, I decided to knit a second bottom. If you remember, I wanted to use a Bag-E-Bottom to reinforce the base. I was thinking about this and I thought that just dropping it in the bottom was not going to work. It would slide around and fall out. So I knit a second bottom and crocheted it on three sides (2 short and 1 long) to the bottom of the bag on the inside. After the felting, I inserted the Bag-E-Bottom into the pocket formed by the two bottoms and let it dry. The bag was slightly smaller than the Bag-E-Bottom, but it will be fine after it dries. Here's a photo of the bag and the unattached handles drying. I felted them last night. The ends of the braid came undone as I had only knotted the tails together thinking they'd felt themselves together. But apparently they came undone before the felting so the braids had unraveled. But the i-cord felted so I just re-braided it and held them closed with clothespins to dry. When I sew them on the bag, they'll stay together.

I hate trying to find something to shape the bag around. I used cereal boxes and a zipper plastic bag box covered in plastic. But I could have used something slightly bigger. You can see how the bag curves in at the sides. It should work itself out but if I had a box or two that would make the felt stretch slightly, it would have been better. No flash used for these photos. It is taken in natural light so I guess it is pretty close to the correct colors but it looks lighter than the real life bag.

Interestingly, I made my first felted bag as an up-scale lunch tote and spent a lot of time working out the sizing - only to fail miserably. It was too big. I use it as a knitting tote. That is the one I photographed with the yarn originally. This one - which was designed to fit the Bag-E-Bottom - is going to be almost perfect for the lunch tote. With the reinforced bottom, it should work well. But all that after the class is over.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


There are some things in knitting that take faith. I taught a sock class this weekend and grafting is one of them. I had to keep repeating to my students to take the instructions one at a time, not to worry about how sloppy it looks and have faith that it would work out. We had the same conversation about turning heels. That takes faith too. The instructions don't make sense, the thing looks like a mess when you are in the middle of it and it feels as if there must be a mistake somewhere. But when you are done, voila! there is a heel!

I think felting and i-cord take faith too. I-cord always looks like a mess for the first few rows. I am attaching i-cord to my felted bag this week. I did an i-cord bind-off on the top and am now working attached i-cord around the bottom - like a cording. Once that is done, it is time for the handles. I looked for handles at the LYS but I couldn't find any that looked just right. The dyed leather ones were nice but the color was just off and so I didn't like the effect. I am planning on taking Nancy's advice and making braided i-cord handles. I hope I have the patience to finish it. I don't like knitting i-cord all that much although I like the effect of the i-cord once it is done. The colors on this are wacky because of the flash. It is much darker but the flash shows the pattern more effectively. This looks like candy while the original is very ethnic and much more intense and darker in color.I also finished the Tapestry vest on Sunday. I worked on the front on Saturday in the car on the way to the Met and over to Penn Station in Newark and back home. Fronts of vests go so much faster than the backs! Anyway, I finished the shoulder shaping and joined the shoulders using a 3-needle BO on Sunday. Now I have to work the armhole and neck bands but the bag comes first.As an aside, did you know there was a Penn Station in Newark? We were prepared to pick up my daughter at the Penn Station in New York but she called and said she had dis-embarked from the train at Newark because she thought it was Penn Station. Fortunately, the two are only about 10 miles apart and the Lincoln Tunnel and the New Jersey Turnpike were not backed up. So we drove over and picked her up.

The Gates of Paradise were spectacular. It was so nice to get up close and personal with them and see all the details. I didn't realize that they had 3 different levels of perspective/distance in each one. There is a foreground where the figures are almost 3 dimensional; a middle distance where they are carved in some relief; and a distant perspective where they are almost 2 dimensional. Yet, there is texture and detail even in the distant perspective. You can see that in the Genesis one. God is giving life to Adam in the foreground. See how 3 dimensional God is in the lower left corner. Eve is being created from Adam in the middle distance in the center of the panel and the Temptation of Adam and Eve is in the distance just above the creation of Adam. Their departure from Eden is also in the foreground on the lower right. You can't see it in this photo but the snake coiled around the tree has wonderful texture on its skin.

We also saw the Age of Rembrandt at the Met and one on European clocks and watches. They were really really nice although the Rembrandt exhibit was crowded. I want to take this opportunity to tell you that the Metropolitan Museum of Art isn't just about paintings. There are Egyptian mummies, a Japanese tea garden, a Tuscan courtyard, a Frank Lloyd Wright room and lots of carvings and furniture and musical instruments, jewelry and armor in it. There is even a Costume Institute that has fashion. In fact, to relate it to blogging, the current exhibit at the Costume Institute is blog.mode where one is encouraged to blog one's reactions to the fashion on display. All in all, the Met is one of my favorite places in the world to visit. I am lucky that I can go there often and I go there at least once a year. The only places that are similar that I'd love to live near are the British Museum and the Louvre.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Ode to my ESW

Do you remember my telling you that I was walking out in the dark and dreaming about how wonderful my ESW would be?

ESW , how do I love thee?
Let me count the ways
I wear you at home
I wear you in the car
I wear you on the couch
I wear you on my walk

You are so soft
You are so snuggly
You are so warm,
and touchable that
I cannot imagine
living without you

The past few days have been very cold. I went for my lunch time walk on Wed and today when it was in the teens Fahrenheit outside with the wind-chill factor. I was bundled up in my ESW under my coat and I really enjoyed my walk.

My only problem is static. It gets very static-y.

I leave you with an updated photo of the vest I am making out of Rowan Tapestry. The back is done and I'm ready to start the front. I'll post a pic of the bag early next week.
Tomorrow I hope to be seeing the Gates of Paradise exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I saw the doors for the first time in Florence a few years ago and I knew they were copies. So it is exciting to see some of the originals.