Monday, June 30, 2008

thought I'd 'Bounce' this by you...

Did you get any ‘Bounce’ from Sue at BT Yarns? - it was in her last mailer (, search word - bounce). It is 75 cotton, 25 poly, approx 2000 ypp, each cone is about 1.25 lb. I got a cone of plumberry because it looked like the colour to go with a printed fabric I recently purchased. It’s a perfect match! Now, in Sue’s information, she said at T8, stockinette, it gave a gauge of 29 sts and 53 rows to 10 cm. That’s kinda weird and led me to think it would be stretchy and the machine wash & dry would ‘shrink’ it up quite a bit. So, I clicked on my Knitwords index to see if there was a match to the gauge and sure enough, I found close matches in stockinette with Denim Bouclé and Balada Stretch, which both took up considerably with washing and drying. Also close was some one-row-tucks in 4 ply wool!!
Okay, next question, how far is this yarn gonna go! My cone was 1.2 lb, so
I had 2250 yds approx, but what does that mean? In comparing yarns, yardage and gauge I figured it would be comparable to the yardage of 4 ply wool and that amount would be enough for a plain, long sleeve cardigan.
So, I made my swatch. I used T9, so it wouldn’t be too stiff when washed - I still wanted a bit of drape and also yarn will go farther knit at a looser tension. Before washing, my swatch measured 28 sts and 38 rows to 10 cm. After washing and drying in the dryer - oh, who am I trying to kid? I was in a hurry and used the hair blower - it measured 29 sts and 46 rows to 10 cm. I love the shape of ‘Caped Wrapper’ from No 43 (see blogs below, ‘remake of caped wrapper’, ‘cheating at swatches’ and ‘recreational knitting’) but I thought I’d try it plain stockinette without the large collar - that would really be pushing the limit of where 2250 yds would take me.
I made the back first - this yarn knits like a dream - quick, easy, down and dirty! I love it! I weighed the back and it was almost 180g, so I knew it might be a bit tricky. I do like the crossover front and that will take a bit extra, as much as the back again, but I’ll go for 3/4 sleeves that I can turn back a cuff to elbow length, to save a bit. I quickly knit the 2 sleeves, threw them on the scale and I was at 300g. Knit both the fronts and promptly forgot thriftiness in my pleasure at getting all 5 pieces knit in 3 hrs!! I shut things down for the evening, not even looking at the remaining cone, on the floor.
This morning I wanted to knit the bands and get it finished, again forgetting my yardage dilemma. I knit the first front band, using double rib, just like in my original pattern, attached it to the left front and on my last joining row, the tail of the end of the cone came dangling into view...fudge!!!
Oh well, I still had my swatch. I unravelled -or is it ravelled? what is the difference? - well, to be brutally honest, I unpicked the last row, threaded up the tail and knit directly off the swatch! I made narrow stockinette bands for each front edge and the back neck, attached them and I still have half my swatch!! Aces!! Link it together, wash and dry, perfect!!
Oh, one other tip, I put everything together, except to set in the sleeves and I laundered it like that, then put the sleeves in. On a stretchy yarn, I’ve found that doing it this way makes a much better fit of the sleeve into the armhole.

BTW, plumberry is sold out, but the other colours are quite nice...

Sunday, June 29, 2008

name dropping

Sorry to keep you all hanging on so long without reporting about my trip to TNNA (The National NeedleArts Association) Market in Columbus, Ohio - been busy working on getting No. 46 together and we’re just about there!
Other than the travelling part - nightmares on NWA (that’s another story) - it was great! This was my first time attending - it’s basically a hand knitting and needlecraft - beads, buttons, crochet, cross stitch, needlepoint, and accessories for all, etc, etc... - show for retailers. The exhibits - over 500 vendors - were so extensive, in a day and a half at the convention hall, I only walked about half of it. My friends - all big-time hand knitters as well as machine knitters - Sonia from FL and Jodi and Ingrid from SC, tried to make sure I saw the most important yarn companies.
My plan was to wear something that would blow away the conception that machine knitting was cheating, cheap, cheesy.... I wore ‘Baton Rouge’ from No 41. First of all, because it’s made from a gorgeous alpaca hand knitting yarn. Second, it looks like a hand knit, but is knit on the LK150, the basic hobby machine that is very affordable and easy to use. Third, the finished sweater is a lovely arrangement of cables, tuck ribs - hand knitters think that’s an unusual use of garter stitch - faggoted lace that adds airy-ness to an otherwise warm fabric, and a great edging they really couldn’t figure out. Fourth, it fits me nicely and suited the occasion. I don’t think I have ever been so closely inspected, but when I told people that I’d made the sweater, blah, blah, blah, the overall response was, like, wow, I had no idea things like that could be done on a knitting machine. They even turned me around to look at the back - I wasn’t sure whether they were checking to see if it was a ‘coffin sweater’ or not.
It was also really great that Silver Reed knitting machines were in attendance at the show for the first time in quite a few years. Knitcraft, Inc, the US importer, had a booth, with the mid gauge machines and they reported a very favourable reception in the hand knitting world as well.
On the yarn front, the luxury yarns were incredible. Alpaca, silk, wool, mohair, linen, cotton, more alpaca!!! The frou-frou scarf crap was not evident, garments were lovely, wearable, beautiful - lots of structured cardigans, set-in sleeves - mixing simplicity with more complicated design details. Still a fair amount of variegated and hand painted yarns but I saw more of a return to beautiful use of quality, natural fibres. Also the button displays blew me away, I wanted them all!! Tons of very large buttons, but, it was only a look-at show, no buying and taking home.
It was fun to meet some of the hand knitting celebs - if I may name-drop a bit here - Lily Chin promised to think about letting us have a stab at her upside-down cardigan; I got to tease Nicky Epstein for stealing my title ‘Knitting on the EDGE’; and I shared a cute, Canadian moment with Lucy Neatby and Véronik Avery. And of course, spending time with my friend Jodi Snyder, who’s hand knit designs have been in ‘Knit ’n Style’ and other hand knit magazines. You go, girl! Who, when she saw my ‘knots of work’, said, ‘why didn’t I think of that?’
Now, I can’t wait for my new Namaste bag to arrive (see We all ordered ‘laguna’ in several colours!! Then I can pretend to be a hand knitter - I’m actually going to use it as a ‘carry-on’ bag for travelling, but look for one if you get the chance - they are REALLY nice!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Knots of work

I’ve been busy, swatching, knitting, planning - throw in a bit of pattern writing and some editing. I have a couple of finished projects for the next K’words, a couple of WIP’s (work in progress) and a few ‘waiting for the right yarn to come in’ plans. Every once in a while, I have to put it all aside and do something just for fun or just to get an idea out of my head.
I’m going to the TNNA show this weekend in Columbus, Ohio. It is a trade show for hand knitting and I’m just going for a look-see, no work. It should be a treat! Some of my garments will be there - Knitcraft is having a booth with knitting machines - primarily the LK150 because it should have the best appeal for hand knitters - and they asked me for some things for their display. Anyway, since I sent my best things for the show and it will be June in the midwest ( heat, humidity, hand knits), I was thinking what would I wear? Although I’m not really a scarf person, I’ve had this idea in the back of my head for a while and decided it was time to give it a go. My vision had several colours - olivey greens and burgundy purples - and light and yesterday, I knit 6000 rows... let me explain!
My plan, such as it was, was to knit a bunch of slip-cords with the mid gauge, in the different colours and then somehow knot or tie them together in a latticework. After making a couple of sketches, I decided 6 cords would do the trick.
2:30 pm. Figuring that I wanted the finished thing to be about 2 metres long, so that it could be looped loosely around neck/shoulders and still hang down in front or back, I knit the first cord, using a DK weight silk/wool with a lovely sheen, on the LK150, 4 sts X 1000 rows. Because I still had plenty of yarn left from that skein, I made a second one, same. I was knitting so fast, it was kinda noisy and I began feeling sorry for my little ‘plastic’ machine, felt I was abusing thought maybe I’d try the next one - a beautiful matte-finish grape linen - on the SK860 (metal bed mid gauge). Duh? what was I thinking?? not much, was much easier to do on the LK - the carriage is smaller, so you don’t have to move it as far to clear the working needles each row and it is lighter to push than the heavy-duty 860. I had to stop halfway and go do something else for a while for a rest. Back to the LK, with my other yarns, a fingering-weight avocado alpaca, doubled so it would be equal value of the others - a burgundy cotton/wool chenille, and finally Seawool, a hand-dyed wool and seacell sock yarn from Fleece Artists in shades of amethyst.
I had all six cords done by 5:30, so I watched/listened to ‘Jeopardy’ and played around with the cords, experimenting with knots, figuring that I could mull it over for a few days before deciding what to do. Now, the cords are 6 feet long. The first knot is easy, right...but then what the heck do you do??? a flash from the past! I think I had a vision of my mother doing macramé back in the 70’s. I took the cords down to my cutting table and pinned the ends 3 inches apart. I could use the grid on the table to space the knots and try to keep things relatively even. I made my first row of knots - square knots (I know that’s what they are because it was on ‘Jeopardy’ last week and my answer, ‘granny knot’ was wrong) and working from that end, it was easy. The next set of knots would mean pulling the remainder of the 6 feet through each time. Again, thoughts of Mom saved me. I vaguely recalled her looping up her cords and keeping them bundled with elastic bands - it was fun and I was compelled to finish! By 6:30, my back a little sore from stretching, it was done and I felt relieved. Now I could get back to real K’words work.
So, if you see me at TNNA, and wonder, what the heck is she wearing...
email me for the recipe!