Friday, March 30, 2012

what’s on deck...

My to-do list has been crossed off, down to one thing - last year’s bookkeeping and I can put that off some more...I did get a red ruffled dress done for Rhiana, but I forgot to photo it before I gave to her - when I brought it to her, she ripped off her jammies right away, put it on and told me she loved it and me too! her Mom promised to get me a picture of her wearing it, so maybe later...
Back in the day, I used to love to have a selection of white blouses to wear - it was in my sewing days and of course, I made most of them. If I didn’t have at least 10 in pristine condition to choose from, there was something wrong. My favourites were what I called collages -some were asymmetrical with varying patterns on each sleeve - I’d have differing yokes - one with wide pintucks and the other, narrower pleats with maybe a fancy stitch embroidered between with a shiny thread - there would be a lace insert here or there and sometimes a variety of fabrics mixed together, but all the same tone or shade of was my version of heirloom sewing. I even did some beading, believe it or not!
I’ve been mulling this over lately and trying to come up with a plan for knitting something similar. I have many off-white or winter white yarns on my shelves. Took some down and narrowed my choices to these, which seem the closest shades to each other. I have WCD (wool crepe deluxe -fisherman), a 3 ply shiny mercerized cotton, Skinny Majesty (putty), Silk Bourette from Yeoman (natural), 3 ply alpaca (natural), a really thin rayon that I got from Bonnie’s eons ago and an elastic ‘yarn’ from even before that - now, I’m not saying they will all be in the finished design but this is the start. I chose them based on thinness and texture as well as the colour and the drape quality. I plan on mixing in stitch techniques, some tuck, some lace, some slip stitch maybe - I really like the bottom angles on ‘Gossamer’ and am going to incorporate that hemline in this one. Here’s my first sketch, subject to change...I’ll keep you posted!

what's a formula?

my knitting room floor is littered with waste yarn debris and defective bands - I just finished my KnS project for the September (or is it October?) issue - I had to make the front bands FIVE times to get two good ones!!! what on earth is that all about??? well, mostly, not paying attention and not using the mid gauge enough - different rules apply - on the standard gauge, pretty consistently, when making a stockinette band, like for the fronts of a cardigan, you simply hold the length of your piece up to the needle bed evenly, without stretching, and that’s the number of stitches needed to make the band (based on a 4 ply weight yarn that is knitting about T7). But, on the mid gauge, this little trick doesn’t work quite as well. Now, I could, of course, do some research and look up what I’ve done before - makes sense, but no, that would be too easy, almost like cheating! So, the first band (estimated as above - 97 sts - an uneven number because it’s easier to cast-on an uneven number on the LK), after attaching, pulls up a bit - no big deal, I can handle that. Add a few stitches and build a new one; get it attached to the other side and look at it - the length is perfect but I forgot to figure on the angle at the neckline - why didn’t I notice that on the first one? Now, to get serious and actually do a bit of figuring and come up with a method that could be used by others: calculate the length of the band - take the number of rows from hem to neck of actual knitting and divide by the row gauge and it gives me 20.75 inches (yeah, for KnS, I’m working inches), multiply that by my stitch gauge and get 114 sts - I know that will be way too long compared to my first attempt, so use a 10% reduction factor, which results in 102 sts - add one for the uneven thing and I have exactly what my second band was. Okay, we’re good! Make the band without thinking it through, decrease at one end for the angle - crud!! that’s the wrong way - need to start with more and decrease to the 103 sts...
I haven’t actually described this band, but it begins with the chain cast-on (after waste yarn, of course), knit 8 rows; RTR (remove, turn, rehang), K1R - for a garter stitch row which makes a join to the edge - this is really a facing that is on the outside of the cardigan front. Then this piece is taken off (TGIHAGB- thank god I have a garter bar); the garment front is hung, right side facing; the band is rehung, pulling the open sts through the closed edge. THEN, RTR (so the chain shows on the outside) again, knit a loose row and chain off...
You know it  - I had a day off in between and screwed up on the angled ends, made the same one twice...then, even though I’m positive I religiously used the row counter, the fourth band, after attaching, looked a little wide - sure enough, it was 10 rows, but I liked it! Very carefully made the opposite one the same but opposite if you know what I mean - it looks beautiful!
I want to see them turn this into a hand knitting pattern! BTW, the yarn here is Plymouth Yarns DK Merino Superwash - LOVE IT!!! this will be my new go-to DK wool for the LK, for sure - it has a lovely twist to it that gives excellent stitch definition and is a pleasure to work with!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hanging my head in shame...

I got the following email this morning: I have made a few of your lace garments and am now knitting Lacey Blue. I enter the lace information in the Memo information. You have to enter either a N for normal lace or F for fine lace on the lace rows and then the even number of rows to be knit in stockinet. I just put N every row until the knit row I put the number. It talks about it on page 44 of the instruction book. Just thought I'd let you know it does work and helps a lot especially on this last one. Thanks for writing all the great patterns. Alice R, ND
Back in the day, I had been told by the so-called Brother experts that there was no way to enter lace pattern memo information in the Brother 970 and I took it on their word. I sincerely apologise. Alice is right; it is right there on page 44 of the 970 manual - couldn’t be easier. The best thing about this is if you’ve input a lace pattern, you can go in and add the memo information anytime - I just did it for ‘Lacey Blues’ and for ‘Gossamer’ and it works!! This totally takes the guesswork out of when to actually knit and when to use the lace carriage.
Now, in the set-up for the pattern, choose the lace carriage (not the fairisle carriage like I previously said) and put in the memo-corrected pattern number and Brother lace knit your heart out!!
thanks Alice!

Monday, March 19, 2012

spoiler alert

I just finished reading one of my favourite authors - Ruth Rendell - murder mysteries are my thing and this was one of the early Inspector Wexford novels, 'The Veiled One'. I found it especially interesting because there were a few knitters in the story - okay, they were hand knitters but same difference, you know what I mean.... Now, the victim was garroted, but the murder weapon was nowhere to be found and they didn’t really know what it was.
So, the knitters - one created the most fascinating, colourful, exotic, original pieces and Wexford thought them inspired and beautiful. Another knitter was one who ‘obviously knitted to produce, without thought and care or pride of workmanship’. Describing the vest worn by the most obvious suspect at that point - ‘it was plainly hand-knitted, but not expertly, the hand of the imperfectly skilled evident in the neck border and the sewing up’. Another time she writes:
‘his pullover (same guy, subsequent police questioning) was of a darker grey shade with a cable pattern but errors had been made in the knitting of the cables. Burden found himself compulsively staring at one of these flaws up near the left shoulder where the knitter in twisting the cable had passed the rib over instead of under the work...’
When speaking of this knitter, Rendell pens ‘she did many things but none of them well...’
By the time Wexford realizes the murder weapon is ‘a circular knitting needle of some high-numbered gauge - that is with thicker pins at each end of the wire’, I’m torn - the slant is somewhat toward the artistic, skilled knitter but I don’t want it to be her! And then, the next chapter biases you to the crappy knitter; then, she turns up dead...I won’t spoil the rest of it for you, but I loved the knitting content!
I’ve never had a circular needle....just sayin’...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

rural route

just so you don’t think I’ve been dogging it, I have to show you this picture - I made ‘Gossamer’ for my daughter - the yarn is Forsell Naturell, cusco gray- she picked the colour and I whipped it up last week for her birthday - I love it - she’d better get over here to claim it, like fast. My girlfriend Cathy has become my new official photographer - she claims it’s just a good camera but she’s always had the best photos. Anyway, she lives out in the sticks, a rural setting, and they have this most interesting, antiquated-looking thing in the yard and we both thought it would make a good back drop...

agony aunt...

I have this girl who keeps emailing me for help - no problem, I don’t mind giving assistance with my own patterns and when they learn something, it’s a big thrill for me. Anyway, I don’t know much about her, other than she subscribed to KNITWORDS from the very beginning, right to the last and she’s bought all the POMs so far - I love her just for that! She began asking questions, late last year, about my All Laced Up/‘Lacey Blues’ pattern from the Fall 2011 POM series. She told me she was returning to mk-ing after a long absence and had never really finished anything. Most of the questions just required a little nudge or confirmation that she was on the right track and as the weeks progressed, I could ‘see’ her confidence growing with each message. In early March, she sent me these photos of her finished garment.

Hi Mary Anne - Nope I did not disappear! I actually really finished it! Pics attached....The yarn is linray - ~ 50/50 rayon linen blend from Silk City. Kind of a pita cause it splits easily but the shine makes the lace look really pretty. I never ever would have finished without your help! Thank you! Now that I am on a roll (okay maybe not a roll but at least in the right direction) on to the next! Gossamer - and, of course... I have a question! Someday, I will stop bothering you and fly solo! I found a similar yarn to the Cigno that you used but I am getting more stitches and less rows - okay I am scratching my head - I know what to do if both are either less than gauge or more than gauge but what if I have one of each?? Okay so, pattern gauge is 25 sts and 45 rows per 4 inches. Swatch knit with a brother 970. After steaming the swatch - at T5 I am getting 28.5 st and 41.7 rows per 4 inches and T6 is 26.6 st and 36 rows/4 inches. ARGH! humbled again....ain't machine knitting grand? Learning all kinds of things ... and not just about machine knitting!
Thanks! Lynn
I replied:
Hi Lynn, the tension mast would change it somewhat, but I think it's far enough off that you would really need to recalculate the whole thing. Or find another yarn...if you are happy with the yarn, how about putting the schematic into the CB1 and let it do the figuring for you - that's what I'd do and I'm up for helping on that if you are not used to it - I am a huge fan of using a charting device - then you use my pattern for the methods and techniques only! the Lacey Blues - wow!! great job - I'm so proud of you!! it sure looks nice!! Hope I get to see you wearing it! - MAO
She said: Geez, I did not know you could put a schematic into the CB1 - I will read up on how to do that. If I get stuck you will be the first to know :) Thanks for all your encouragement! Lynn
I said: Okay Lynn, it's a deal - dig out the old Knitwords - back in No.13 to maybe 19 or 20, Peggy Barton wrote a series on learning the CB1 and I actually got my 970 so I could proof her articles!!! and I did learn how to use the shaping (as well as the rest of it) in the CB1 - you'll be amazed!!!

She's going to be a really great mk-er but I'm really green about her dressform - wish I had one...More CB1 stories later...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Granville, done!

Finished up the final version of Granville. I re-did the front bands on my original. I had worn the gray one  (the colour name is ‘mushroom’ but I don’t know where that came from - I always thought mushrooms were shades of brown or taupe, but this is really a greenish-gray) anyway, I wore the gray one, back in October at Newton’s seminar, over a black dress and I was quite happy with no buttons on it, but I tried it since then with other things and decided I would like it buttoned. If you look at my sketch from back in September, the original design had three buttons at the top - so that’s what I did with this one, ‘cept I already had four buttons prepared and used them all - I really like it. The red or ‘poppy’ version, is for my daughter and, running short of yarn at the end, I made the bands a bit narrower and buttoned it from top to bottom which she prefers.
The pdf’s will be sent out to current Pattern-of -the-Month subscribers over the next few days. The accompanying article has notes on the racked cast-on, lots of double bed stuff, the 3X2X3 braided cable techniques, the neckline finish and all the extra details.

Sunday, March 4, 2012


Nathan loved his hoodie!! He was quite intrigued with the idea that he has a one-of-a-kind jacket and no one else would ever have the same thing! I really liked the way the hood turned out with the stockinette lining - it looks really nice - I encased the neckline with the hood and the lining so the finshing looks very professional, inside and out. It’s all good!
Rhiana put in her order - she wants a red dress with ruffles... her birthday is next week!