Sunday, March 28, 2010

Pictures galore!

I took some of my shawls to the yarn store yesterday and had a student take pictures. First, the mink/cashmere Faroese shawl - cuddly and warm! The pin is from a vendor at Knitting Camp called Dutch Treats.
The back. The lace pattern is from a shawl called Ata.
Second, Stor Rund Dug. I deliberately wore a white T-shirt so the shawl would stand out.
A little different pose here. Luann did a great job taking the photos.

Now for something a little different...
I bought a spinning wheel. Yes, another one even though I really haven't mastered it yet. I couldn't resist a bird's eye maple Tina II from Jensen.

She is decked out with a walnut trim.

She is decked out in walnut with a stripe around the middle...

And a little walnut between the treadles

She's beautiful!

The heart of it all. There is a little more walnut on the maiden.

And a look at my pitiful attempts at spinning yesterday. But I will get better and Tina will help me.

On the knitting front, I started the last of the wrist brace liners on Friday. So there is nothing interesting to report. I hope to finish them this week and get on to more interesting stuff. And I don't have to worry about wrist brace liners for another 3-4 years.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

On a tear

I didn't post last weekend because I was at a retreat. A number of us rented a B&B, the Yellow House in Roscoe, NY, and created our own retreat. Each of us contributed a meal or part thereof and it was a lot of fun. We had lots of food, wine, potent potables as well as non-potent potables. We knitted and spun and admired each other's FOs and WIPs and had a ball. I wish we could do this every month as it was such a relaxing and refreshing break in the usual routine.

As a result, I am knitting up a storm. I started this shawl in a lovely natural mink/cashmere yarn which is like a cloud of warmth and cuddliness. It is vaguely based on Ata from the Faroese Shawl book. The shaping is very different from the shawl in the book. I started with my friend Maggie's shaping but modified it because it didn't fit the lace pattern.
I decided to go with a simple scalloped edging from the second Barbara Walker treasury but it is really garter st worked sideways with increases and decreases to create the scallops. I like the simplicity of it with the lace pattern. I am about one third done with the edging and then the shawl will be done. I can't wait to wear it even though it is getting too warm for it. Maybe it will be just right for air-conditioned offices in the summer!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Blocking Stor Rund Dug

Let me start with last week's FO. One wrist brace liner. The second one is about 1/3 done.

Now, onto the blocking:
I used the principles of basic geometry to block this into a circle. I inserted two blocking wires first at 180 degrees from each other along the diameter of the circle. Then I did the same to create a diameter perpendicular to the first one. Lastly, I inserted two wires into each quadrant created by the first two diameters.

Once that was done, I pinned the beginning of the tape measure to the center of the circle and started pinning out the circumference. First, I measured and pinned along each wire. After that, I measured and pinned in between them.

That was the skeleton of the circle. With the tape measure still pinned to the center, I carefully measured and pinned the neck circle to be equidistant from the center. And then I went through each point, measuring its distance from the center and pinning it. As I did this, I sometimes had to adjust my original pins that were between the wires.

The final result is:

Detail of the neck:
Detail of the lace pattern in the body:
Detail of the edging.:

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A brace of brace liners

A brace is a pair of like things. I have been knitting like things for the past week. All too frequently, I get bored with knitting the same types of things. This is not exactly the same as second sock syndrome. I don't have that. To me, a pair of socks is a finished object. So until the pair is done, I am fine. What really bores me is knitting the same thing multiple times. Like knitting 6 pairs of socks one after another or, in this case, knitting 3 pairs of wrist brace liners. As I said a few weeks ago, I wear wrist braces at night for carpal tunnel syndrome. These brace liners are comfy and easy to launder and keep my braces fresh and clean for a long time.

To keep my interest up, I use these sorts of things as opportunities to experiment with different technique and observe the results. I am going to share some of these experiments with you today. This is the cuff of the liner. These are longer than on fingerless mitts because the braces come down much farther on my arm. Also, they are tight fitting, so the liners have to fit tightly to the shape of my forearm. I found that a 1x1 shaped cuff works very well.

In the first cuff, above, I did the decreases right at the end of round mark. So the first st and the last st in the round were decreased. In the one below, the decreases are done 1 st in from the mark. So the second and penultimate st were decreased. You can see the difference in the appearance of the two cuffs. Which do you like better?
Here's a photo of the second cuff as it is laid on its side. You can see the intact column of knit sts along the edge. There is a matching column of purl sts on the other side but this made for a better photo.
I also use these as opportunities to experiment with solutions to problems. If one does this on a normal object, one has to rip out unsuccessful solutions. In a project like this, it doesn't matter as much. For example, in the last set I made (5 years ago?), you can see a tiny hole where I began the cast on to compensate for the sts set aside for the thumb. This hole is caused by the first cast on st that is disturbing the lovely st that was its genesis. I have tried a knit-on cast on, a cable cast on, a provisional cast on, and an e-wrap cast on. The e-wrap and the provisional cast ons don't cause the hole. The other two do. Of course, one can close up the hole in the finishing but isn't it better not to have it in the first place? I didn't bother sewing it up in this old liner.

Now, the problem with the e-wrap cast on in this yarn, is that it stays loose. The successful e-wrap cast on needs to be really tight as it has a lot of play in it. Also, it is a pain to do a provisional cast on for 8 sts in a liner that no one will ever see! What to do?

Voila! I cast on the first st using the e-wrap cast on and then switched to the knit-on cast on. It was still hard to get that first st tight but it is only one st. Note that the hole has vanished. I took a photo of the liner-in-process so you can see that I didn't cover it up with the finishing.
Lastly, you can see what happens when the e-wrap is used. This is a cotton/elastic yarn and so one has to knit it with a very light tension on the yarn. When knitting that way, the e-wrap stays loose. You can see the holes here in the thumb gusset increases.

In the cuff below, I used the 'knit in the st below' increase. See how much nicer that increase line is? This is a good example of varying the technique based on the yarn. The e-wrap increase works very well when the gauge is tight (as it is here) because it puts no stress on existing sts. I don't like the technique of picking up the running thread and making a st from it unless the gauge is looser, in which case it works very well. But given the yarn here, the knit in the st below is a much better choice. Understanding these parameters in one's knitting is the way to ensure the best results. It is ultimately knitters' choice as to which technique one uses, but selecting the right technique means a more polished and perfect result.

If you are wondering where the blocked Stor Rund Dug shawl is, it is still in the bag unblocked. We had a major power outage here and I had no power over the weekend. Blocking a shawl was the last thing on my mind, especially as I was also ill. That is also why this post is late. If all goes well, I will block the shawl this weekend and post pictures. Wish me luck!