Monday, September 29, 2014

deadline met...

Do you know where the term 'deadline' came from? Basically, it originated in prison camps during war and referred to a physical boundary - guards would shoot any prisoner who crossed the line...
Well, gosh, so glad I'm done! It's ready!
The pattern for the RTR cardi, DONE! The last two weeks, I was pattern writing,  knitting some, pattern writing some…and then I figured I can kill two birds with one stone – to really check over the pattern and make sure it’s good, I’ll make one for Jan and that way I can have another piece of her wardrobe done and I’ll feel really good knowing the pattern has all the proper information. So, for hers, I did have 3 cones of Yeoman Yarns Cannele (which is what the pattern calls for) in a pale green – it’s called ‘sage’ – really nice and I’m sure she’ll like it – hers is the second size, but shorter (maybe I mentioned this before, tee hee, she’s under 5’ short) so I shortened the pattern by  about 2 inches and I had to use the third cone for the last 28 rows of the last front band!!!
The pattern – you can purchase it right here on the right side of the screen, there is a Paypal button  - it’s $8 and I will email the pdf to you when I get your payment (thanks!) –
Standard gauge RTR Lace Cardi: High-hip length, open front cardigan, long, set-in sleeve. Shawl collar, knit in hand transferred lace with purl stitch ridges. Back lace inset is sideways knit and A-line shaped with shortrows, softly gathered into the stockinette back yoke with reverse seaming for added detail. The front is combined with side panel, wider at hem and shaped at back side to add to the A-line. Back is slightly longer than front. Six sizes from finished bust 38 to 54”.
The midnight tweed ‘Granville’ turned out perfect – I just need to darn in ends and add the buttons – will show you some pics later in the week. Now, I have one more piece to do for Jan – I think I’ve decided to go my standard gauge version of the ‘Rib’nShrug’ in the thistle 4 ply wool – stay tuned!


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

still grinning...

I got the cutest text yesterday from sister Jan!
‘Hi there, I am curious about what seems to me to be a new fashion (crime?) here in Toronto. Today I have walked past or by at least a dozen people who have the kick pleat at the back of their skirt, dress or coat basted up. I always thought that stitching was for packing or transporting, not intended as an integral piece of the item of clothing. Isn’t it like wearing the label or price tag?’
LOL!! ‘This has long been a pet peeve of mine! You’re right, Jan! It is like leaving the tag on!’ and usually spotted on the ‘younger’ generation – LOL again, because I’m not talking just the twenty-something  - that now includes anyone under 50!!! It was something that either your mother or the sales clerk explained or, maybe the Home Ec teacher…
It is also used on pockets – a male friend has a double-breasted coat that he wore for a year before I happened to notice that his pockets were inoperable – still sewn shut with basting so the pockets didn’t gape! I always thought the sales staff should take care of this but it seems that the fashion industry has not passed this info onto the purchaser or even the sales staff!
Anyway, I have the first draft of the RTR pattern done! it’s off to my proof-knitter!  I have added a paypal button right here on the blog (at the right side) if you want to place your order, but you'll have to wait  until the end of the month to get it via email!
And I have all 5 pieces of the tweed Granville done with the new and improved 4-row instead of 6-row cables! (fist pump) I am treating myself to a day off – need to go button shopping before making the bands - other button availability will be a huge factor in the selection for the next  garment in Jan’s wardrobe…

Thursday, September 11, 2014

progress report...

Seriously, I’ve been sticking to my plan – pattern write some, knit some, pattern some, knit…I’ve got the schematic done – a little intense – more complicated to size than I originally anticipated – I’m doing  6 sizes from finished 38 to 54” – the point of the original design was to be able to make a plus-sized cardigan with 3 main body pieces instead of 4 so the side panels took a little more thinking than usual…but  I do have most of the pattern written – need to go over it with a fresh eye tomorrow and do some air-knitting of the more intricate shaping.
 As for the next piece in Jan’s wardrobe, I got started on  the tweed ‘Granville’ – sometimes I wish I never talked to my mk friend – when I mentioned my plan of re-making ‘Granville’ to her, she asked if I was going to make the cables closer…what the heck did she mean? then I realized that she meant,  was I going to turn the cables closer together, like every 6 rows instead of every 8 rows?
Let me back up a bit. ‘Granville’ has columns of  braided cables up the fronts and back – and they are made over 8 sts by making a 3X2 cable on the left side at row 4, knit 6 rows, and then turn a 2X3 cable on the right side, so you are actually turning cables every 6 rows. Back to the demise of KnitStyle and the last garment I made for them and never told you about – they had a aran/cable theme for one of the story lines for #195 and my submission was a pullover featuring a yoke of some impressive (for the LK150 machine) looking cables with a outline diamond,  a 3X3 cable and a 2X2X2 braided cable on a background of purl sts. In my experiments/swatches, I found the cables to look much nicer and more rounded by turning them more frequently than I would normally do. As machine knitters, we often are looking for the easy way out and sometimes sacrifice on the finished product. Anyway, I had mentioned  this to my friend back then and darn, she must take notes when we talk because she remembered that – I wouldn’t have – I would have just read my pattern and done what I did on the original!
When she asked me, I said no, that’s way more work and maybe if I were making this for myself I’d do it.
So I started off with the sleeve and it niggled…would it make that much difference to turn them closer or did it only show up in the heavier yarn? You know me - I thought, I could do it on the sleeve – there is only one braided cable up the middle of the sleeve – I could try it and if it didn’t make much difference I could go back to the  quicker way…damn this is really nice – good thing Jan has slimmer arms that I do – I am making it in her size and her sleeve width is a full size smaller than I would make for myself…I’ve got the second sleeve made, I really like this and you know, that midnight tweed is really pretty…I may not mind an extra snug sleeve – they say a fitted sleeve makes you look slimmer….

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

delay tactics...

or should I say ‘wasting’ time? Actually, it’s more like doing something fun instead of the work I intend to do – you know, I really blame this habit on my Mother – when I was a kid and we had chores to do, she would make us work to, say, clean the bathroom and then we took a break and played cards before tackling the next job of cleaning a bedroom… and as the day progressed, the card-playing took up more time than the actual cleaning… Anyway, I admit that I still have a tough time buckling down to get the work done and it’s always been more appealing to do the fun stuff first.
What I should be doing ? Pattern writing – I have decided that I would offer a few patterns for sale now and again – not as structured as the ‘pattern of the month’  but just whenever I felt like it and all summer I have been meaning to write up the RTR Lace Cardi – I did re-knit it already – the yarn is Yeoman Yarns cannele (100% mercerized cotton, 245g cone) -  so, I’m putting it out there – order your yarn ( – you’ll need 3 cones for the 36-44 sizes (4 for the 48-54 sizes) – Sue orders on the 1st and 15th of each month, so if you get your order in for the 15th you should have it in hand by the time this pattern is ready - I promise it for the end of the month! There, a deadline! I never miss them!
So, in between little bits of pattern writing, I’m doing -  what I like best – knitting!
My sister, Jan (lives in Toronto,  has her doctorate in sociology and is very involved in women’s rights and politics) asked me to start her on a knitted wardrobe – she was here in June for 2 weeks and she specifically liked my shift dress and wants a few cardigans to go with so that she has several suitable option for most any occasion.  She already has the 1rt raglan cardi and tank (blog post March 16, 2014) in leaf green that I made for her birthday in March.
My basic shift dress is ‘Dress Up Day’ from Knitwords #16,  Spring 2001 – (what you may not have known - I was Lindsay’s chaperone for the ‘Canadian Search for Miss Universe’ in 2000 – Lindsay was on our cover like 20 times out of the 53 issues and, for the pageant agenda, I was supposed to have a ‘day dress’ for certain functions as well as evening wear, so that was my day dress!  You may have seen me at a seminar wearing this dress – I did alter it once – in 2006 – it had been just hanging in my closet for about a year and I realized that I felt that it was a little short – I still had the exact same yarn, so I cut it across under the bottom of the vertical dart and above the side slit, rehung it on the machine, added 60 rows and grafted it back together! Now it is just knee-length instead of above-knee, more age-appropriate!
Jan loved the idea that I can still wear it 13 years later!!! I made it with 2 necklines – a scoop neck on one side and a v-neck on the other because sometimes you feel like a vee and sometimes not – also depending on what you put with it, you have the option…mine is olive green wool crepe deluxe and of course, over the years I have made many cardigan/jackets that I can wear with it.
My plan for Jan: her  main colour is navy so the shift dress is WCD French navy. I will do: ‘Granville’ (March 15/12) in midnight tweed WCD – I made a stockinette swatch and it isn’t an exact match with the stockinette of the French navy but I’m hoping the textures of Granville will change it up enough to ‘go with’ it;
my wool version of the ‘Rib’nShrug’ from my blog April 28/13 in Thistle 4 ply wool;
and a raglan A-line in a lace pattern in a 4 ply mercerized cotton, mid/dark blue and maybe ‘Tobacco Road’ KW#53 in the same French navy WCD. I plan to have this all done for the end of September too;-)!
The most important things about making a dress that will endure the test of time – choose good yarn and a colour you will love for that long; choose a classic style that will always be in style – mine is plain, shaped sides with vertical darts front and back – or front and front, simple edges easy finishing. As you are knitting, be sure to hang yarn marks at the edges in 4”/10 cm increments – I cannot stress how much this does to help with the finishing and seaming; knit slow and steady and pay attention to your shaping methods and details. Also, I did make new swatches – after all it was 13 years of some pretty intense use on the same machine – my original was knit at T4 with a gauge of 38 sts and 47 rows – I got the same gauge at T5 with this yarn. Now, I want to point out that I’ve had this dress for 13 years and it still fits – not that I am the same size, but because it’s a very good quality yarn I can wash and reblock and resize it to fit whatever size I currently am (15 lbs plus or minus ;-) than I was in 2001)!

Monday, September 1, 2014

happy labour day...

It’s back-to-school time and, though it doesn’t really mean a lot to most of us anymore, some of us are lucky enough to have grandkids who are either starting school or going back.
I’ve had a great summer - even though you could mostly call it a non-summer, very cool, rainy, etc – it’s the first time in forever that I haven’t had a mile-long to-do list and not one single deadline!!! It’s been great – I’ve had family company and lots of outdoor activity to keep me out of the knitting room.  Early in July, my nephew Paul, (son of my brother Brian who was my male model in “Do It On a Double Bed”) who is also my godson, came up with his two kids and we had a great visit. His daughter Bethanie, 11 yrs old, going into Grade 6, was looking through some of my old magazines and spotted ‘Fringe Festival’ (Knitwords #43) by Ev McNabb which is a girl’s tabard-style vest, fringed to the max, along with a 18” doll version –  Bethanie loves her doll and I asked her what colour she would like it in – purple being her favourite colour was the answer. I put that in the back of my mind, not making any promises. So, it was especially cool and rainy this week and I thought, why not?
Ev’s pattern is written for a mid gauge machine with tuck patterning and I only have my LK150 in mid-gauge (manual patterning) and not much in the way of kid-friendly yarns, no matter what the gauge so I decided to make it on the standard gauge instead of trying to hand pull on the manual machine. The yarn Ev used is an acrylic yarn suitable for the standard gauge machine, but she used it double-stranded to make up the difference in the gauge and then also set the pattern up as a tuck lace using every other needle in work, so even thought the yarn is like a double knitting weight, the every-other-needle configuration lightens it up.
My first swatch was Honiburd cotton – I have a partial cone, about 350g of periwinkle, which has a purplish cast to it and I made a swatch single-stranded, T9, on the 4.5mm machine – it seemed a bit wimpy so I made a swatch double-stranded, T10, and it was too tough and nasty. I went back and searched my cupboards and what do you know, I did have a batch of purple hand knitting yarn – it’s Lion Brand Microspun sport yarn ( 6 – 2.5oz/168 yds balls) that a friend gave me several years ago – the perfect colour for Bethanie and most probably the same finished weight as what Ev used in the original. Will it be too heavy for the standard gauge? how much will I need? oh, nothing ventured, nothing gained…I quickly made a swatch – it knit up beautifully at T9 and I knit the entire ball – why stop halfway through the ball? If I need to re-use the swatch, at least it’s all in one piece. Now, of course, I am not trying to match the gauge – that would be too hard and the pieces are just simple rectangles, so a little math with the schematic will tell me the number of stitches and rows I need. I measure the area of the swatch and then figure the area of the size 12 yr garment ( length X width) to calculate the size of the total finished pieces and I should be able get the back and 2 fronts easily from 4 balls – I may even have enough to dress the doll! From my gauge/swatch calculations, I need 300 rows X 54-0-55 sts for the back  (and same again for fronts)and as I am knitting, the first ball runs out at about RC200 so this re-affirms that I will have more than enough.
I start off following Ev’s directions but the cast-on has me doing the chain cast-on, knit a row and then transfer to EON – hum-m-m - too much work! – cast on WY and ravel cord of course, then double-strand main yarn, chain across all needles, then drop every other needle – this cast-on makes a fixed edge, so it’s not going anywhere and I have the correct needles for my tuck lace in work – no need to have to transfer to EON! Thread up single strand, set to tuck and just knit! The back is a perfect rectangle, so just get to the top and remove the shoulder sts on WY and cast off the neck stitches – pretty easy! I get the fronts done, put it together and start the finishing – hum-m-m – Ev’s edging is that 3-st worm trim that takes forever – I did try a couple of samples and maybe because of the different yarn and gauge, I just didn’t like it so I used one of my own crochet-look edges (#5 Shinano from Band Practise or Single Crochet-Look Edge #2 from Mid Gauge Magic):
Added to selvedge edge:
Hold edge up to measure number sts required, gathering slightly.
1. Right/purl side facing, hang edge, picking up half outside edge stitch. Bring n’s out, work behind latches. Close latches.
2. MT, K3R.
3. Pick up bottom half edge stitch of picked up row onto EON.
4. Hand knit loosely across entire row. Chain off.

Much quicker and it looks nice both sides – a little steam and it lays flat! I didn’t put it on the hem edge because the double strand cast-on and the fringe will hold it just fine. Made the doll one and it’s so cute together I decided to make one for my granddaughter Rhiana, too! By this time, my Honiburd swatch has been washed and dried and it doesn’t look so wimpy – being 100% regular cotton, it shrunk and fulled enough to fill out the stitches a bit.
I did find it a bit of a challenge to get those slip cords threaded through straight so with this one, I wove a marker row where I wanted to put the cords through. The stitch pattern is a 3 row repeat with the third row being stockinette and the other 2 have tucking stitches. At the place I wanted the marker row, choosing the stockinette row in the sequence: before knitting the stockinette row, switch the cam back to stockinette/plain. Bring EON (which is every 4th needle) out. Put the weaving brushes down/engaged. Take a strand of mercerised cotton and lay it over the selected needles and hold lightly in place with anchor clips on the tails. Knit the row. Don’t forget to set back to tuck and continue. I did put two marker rows.
I know you’re not going to make either of these but I thought there are a few tips here that might help you out in something else you may make…the tuck lace is really pretty!