Saturday, August 23, 2008

Confessions of a green-aholic..

I must have something drastically wrong with me...maybe if I get it out in the open, I’ll be able to deal with it...I really become attached to what I’m knitting. Even if it’s a colour I’m not particularly fond of, by the time I’m finished, it’s my favourite! Now, normally this wouldn’t be a problem because, after all, it’s not like I’m custom knitting or anything. But, here’s the thing. Sue from BT Yarns sent me 2 colours of that new linen yarn and asked me if I’d make her something to wear for the Inspiration ‘08 - surprise her, she said - use whatever you want for you and give me the other, whatever, I’m not fussy - is how she put it. Now, she knows I have a thing for green lately, so she sent a beige and a green. When I saw the green, I tried to convince myself that it was too bluey for my current wardrobe so I figured I’d make her the green and I’d get the beige, which is a lovely shade also. Well, I made several swatches - stockinette in the beige at T7 to start with and get the feel of the new yarn - washed and dried it and oh my, (yawn) how boring...then I used the green, experimenting with a couple of new one-row-tucks and tensions. Oh-oh, that old feeling, all of a sudden this green is starting to appeal to me. To round out the collection, I made another swatch in the beige, using my favourite of the one-row-tucks, sub-consciously I believe, trying to fix in my mind that the beige would be mine. In a real effort to dislike the green, I had picked stitch patterns that I knew I wouldn’t just love.
Anyway, fighting the feeling, I had switched directions - I told you last week about the tiered skirt - I’ve got three made - mine’s black because it’s the shortest - no problem there. There’s one in shades of ivory/beige/taupe that I deliberately made long, for Sue. And then I made a green one of in-between length, that I’m on the fence about - though I really like it, it’s a tad too long for me and Sue does colour well....
Back to the green linen - time’s a-wasting and it’s only 2 weeks to Cleveland. I pulled out all of my green things from the past 2 years, laid them on my bed and tried to convince myself that the last thing I needed was another green cardigan of any shape or size. Impulsively, I grabbed the green, threaded up the machine, put Sue’s schematic in the KR11 and quickly began to knit her first sleeve, which will be too long for me. Many times, I’ll make sleeves first, because it gives you a larger piece of fabric to look at and another dilemma was deciding to whether use the knit side or the purl side as right side. Did I mention the hem turned out beautiful on this thing? And the sheen of the yarn, even after I threw it in the washer AND dryer!! By the time I finished the second sleeve, I’m trying to think up a way to have a turn back cuff...
Thank heaven my next project is a Christmas dress for Rhiana - I’m using red...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Tiers of Joy

You know, I’m so happy I could just knit! Have you ever had what you thought was a great idea and then it turns out to be a great idea? Well, I’ve just had one of those days! I’m on a roll! First of all, my son Rory, took my new bike and adjusted it for me - raised the seat, lowered the handlebars, and tightened all the cables and it’s great. So, I’m back to cycling - it’s less than a month to Cleveland/ Inspiration ‘08 and I have a few pounds to take care of before then. I’m feeling confident that I can do it - I’m up to about 25 km in 90 minutes - which is good for me. Then I got an email from Cindy in NM, inviting me to do a workshop in November. WOW! I love to travel!!
I’ve had this idea for a skirt rolling around in my head for a while and something just clicked the other day and I had a pretty clear picture of how I was going to proceed. My prototype is - get this - in black!! I know that I’m going to have to make the skirt a couple of times to iron out the kinks, to get a workable pattern to put in K’words, and although black is my favourite wardrobe colour - I don’t care what Stacey and Clinton think - I rarely knit with black, at least that you get to see. Every once in a while I treat myself and re-knit something that’s been in the magazine in a more photo-able colour, in black. Last month, once I got No 46 off to the printers, I knit ‘Let’s Swing Again’ from No 44 with this gorgeous ‘midnight black’ Wool Crepe Deluxe that I’d been saving for something special. The one shown in the mag was done in a variegated rayon. It was really nice and I’d worn it quite a few times, getting compliments from non-knitters, so I wanted to re-do it in something really good. Anyway, the long and the short of it is I had some of the black WCD leftover. I also had Mini Dina and Skinny Majesty leftovers in close to the same shade of black.
My vision of this skirt is a tiered thing, that really needs a taller person than me, but I’m okay with that. I wanted the bottom tier to have hankie points, sort of, so it’s sideways knit, using a slip stitch program to shortrow sharp angles that worked out cool. The next tier is lacy with the Mini Dina and the third tier is stockinette in the Skinny Majesty. So, I knit 2 sets of each panel for the back and front and I’m thinking about how to join it all together and make sure the whole thing is not too heavy. So I used the WCD at a much looser tension - it goes further and produces a thinner fabric.
My on-the-fly plan was to hang the edge of the bottom flounce on the machine and then knit the underskirt up to when the next tier would be joined. I hung it on without really thinking and when I was finished, realized I’d hung it with the knit side facing me. Which meant that knitting over this, the purl side would be facing. But then it dawned on me - to add the next tier, I would have to remove the underskirt, hang the tier with the wrong side facing, replace the underskirt and continue to the next tier and repeat that. Way too much work and what the heck - who cares if the purl side of the "underskirt" that no one will see, is on the outside?? Hello!!! Knit up the way it was, add the next tier, keep knitting and only turn it at the top for the yoke part!!! Sometimes I do feel like a rocket scientist!!
Look for various lengths and versions of this new skirt - Tiers of Joy is my working title - in No 47 and also at the show in Cleveland - I’m going to make one for Sue J to wear too!! Her and I are about the same size, except she’s about the eight inches taller that I’d like to be - but hers won’t be black...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Silver words of wisdom....

So, I’m back at my knitting - actually I already have 3 garments ready for the next issue - I’ll tell you about them maybe another time. Today, I’m working on a light green top with a gathered neckline to wear under a jacket or cardy, using Bambu7. It’s quite thin and to make a wider stitch gauge - stockinette at T4 gives 37 sts to 10 cm which restricts the finished width you can get from 200 needles - I’m using a one-row-tuck, what I call a tuck pattern with a row of stockinette on every other row that gives a nice, subtle texture on the knit side, similar to a garter carriage look. The tuck on every other row is enough to add extra width (stitch gauge at T4 is now 29 sts/10 cm) and the every other row stockinette takes the ‘bubbly-ness’ out of the tuck.
I have the Silverlink4 with DAK7 and my standard gauge Silver Reed machine. I’ve been using this system to knit all my garments for the past 4 years and I love knit-from-screen because it shows exactly what needle is doing what on which row - you can’t go wrong!! Before that, I used the SK580 with built-in electronics and the PE1.
The curl cord can get blown out with improper use. Also, I hate to say how old some of my curl cords are and not surprisingly, I have had 2 burn out recently. When this happens, nothing else does, meaning you can program and re-read till the cows come home and no signal goes to the machine and DAK will keep telling you you’re on the wrong side.
How do you know it’s burned out??
Okay, so I have replaced a couple of curl cords and I am pretty careful (I think) about hooking up the electric to everything - I always make sure my SilverLink4 is unplugged from the power source whenever I’m not using it - in between pieces of knitting, even if I’m only taking a break to grab a cup of whatever, I unplug it from the power bar. If I am not using the patterning for a garment, I unplug the curl cord from the carriage, and I park the end in an old pill bottle attached to one of the antennae, to protect the prongs inside from inadvertently coming in contact with anything.
Now, I use this stuff often enough that it comes second-nature and I’m a big short-cutter and when on auto-pilot, may forget to check something - you know what I mean. So. I’m putting in a pattern and everything’s cool and working fine. On row 8, I’ve hung the hem and then go back to knitting in pattern. I usually watch the red/green flash of lights on the end of the SilverLink to make sure the pattern is continuing properly and I’ve also become attuned to the sound the needles patterning make, so I noticed right away on row 12 that the tuck pattern hadn’t happened by the sound or rather, lack of it. So, rip out a row... re-read the pattern and begin again. I get 4 rows knit and again, the familiar little click-click-click was not there. Sure enough, a pattern-less row! At least it has the courtesy to actually knit the row when you are doing tuck and the signal is lost - if I was using the lace carriage, there would be major drama happening!! When the signal is lost with the lace carriage, all stitches act as a selected stitch and transfer off, resulting with everything on the floor!!! Also, it occurs to me that I did not get a signal from ‘Matthew’ (that’s what I call my DAK screen in honour of Matthew Bragg, the creator of DAK)telling me I'm on the wrong side. So, third time is a charm, but I decided to investigate first. I checked my curl cord - I had put a tag with the date on it up near the top, out of the way and yes, it’s a new one. Remembering that my last garment was stockinette, I checked my connection into the carriage and wouldn’t you know, I had not pushed it down fully, probably resulting in a weak connection. Re-read one more time and zip-zam-zoom, in no time, I’m shaping the underarm and then finishing off the shoulder, 357 rows, no lost pattern once!!
So, here are some Silver Reed/SilverLink/DAK/knit-from-screen safety rules from me for you.
1. Always unplug the link from the power source when not in use. Leaving it plugged for an extended period of time creates a constant heat and can cause the wires to burn out in the SilverLink or the curl cord. Do not leave it plugged into a power bar unless you are turning off the power bar each time.
2. When making connections between the SilverLink and the carriage (which is your curl cord), make sure there is no power to the SilverLink - it can be connected to your computer, but not the direct power source. If you have the USB connection, this protects the SilverLink and the computer and allows you to connect those two things without unplugging everything, but it does not protect the curl cord.
3. No need to unplug the SilverLink from the curl cord each time.
4. To prevent the curl cord from stretching out unnecessarily, unplug it from the carriage when not in use and protect end (see above) or park carriage in the middle of the needle bed.
5. It’s a good idea to have an extra curl cord on hand.
Oh, and the Bambu7 top turned out great - look for it in the next issue!!