Thursday, April 26, 2012

confessions of a machineaholic....

I didn’t wanna be just a knitaholic – too generic! Anyway, you may not want to hear all this so, be warned, you can quit reading now if you’re easily bored.
So, I had this idea and as ideas go, remember it’s just thoughts, meaning I can go anywhere with it. I’m talking about that last sketch ('what's on deck' - Mar 30/12) I tossed out there, with the 7 ivory yarns. I swatched and swatched and then looked, rearranged and looked some more. I call that percolating…I had wide ribs in WCD (not loose enough); tried adding tucks on the main bed stitches (didn’t like what happened to the ribs); changed the ribs to longstitch (really not right and realized I didn’t like the texture of the WCD); switched to a thinner cotton yarn (Yeoman’s Brittany 2 ply), changed the needle arrangement slightly, played with stitch size and one-row-tuck or not and got a winner for the bottom section – it’s 5 knit, 3 purl with a tuck on the 5 knit stitches – so, on the main bed there is 5 in work, 2 out all across and 3 in work on the rib bed in the place of the 2 out of work main bed needles – swing H, of course, side facing on machine is right side.
Made more swatches with some of the other yarns – that darn Silk Bourette and WCD which were my original first picks  got weeded out - not the right thinness or texture even with lace or slip. Added in some Mini Dina that had previously been hiding (you know how that is) and swatched some more.  Threw them all together, moved them up and down, stood back, held them up – arrrggghhh!!! Then I sat back and thought some more. Honed in on the basic idea and realized what I was really looking for was a loose, airy, lightweight cardigan to use as a cover-up for the coming hot weather. Made a few more swatches and thought I was on the right track.

I got knitting the actual project by making all 4 bottom sections of the tuck rib – the back needed to be made in 2 pieces with a centre seam to get the width I wanted for the hem line – so I took each one off on a garter bar piece to save some time with the rehanging of that. Then I hung 2 pieces for the back, did the hand work of Batttenburg; remove, turn, rehang, reduce and knit the slip stitch, RTR’d again; knit some lace in WCD in the opposing blocks pattern, took it off on waste yarn to have a good look at it and saw where it went wrong.

So, here’s what I’ve got now – the bottom tuck/rib, side facing is right side. Then, I threw in a little Battenburg using the 3 ply mercerized cotton – this is a hand transferred lace (see KnS #180 or Knitwords # 39), side away is right side, so the first section needs to be turned and rehung, decreasing across the row to match the width required for Battenburg – not to mention the fact that the stitch and row gauge of each swatch is different – then next section is a slip stitch with Skinny Majesty (side facing is right side) followed by a little Mazatlan (lace carriage, KW#45) and then some more of that slip pattern with the 3 ply cotton to finish off the top. Did I mention that I’m also switching between using my EC1/PE1 for some stitch patterns and then DAK knit-from-screen for the others? To keep track of the shape, fortunately I’ve got the KR11 and just have to change the stitch and row gauge for each different stitch...

I’ve got the perfect beautiful little shell buttons that I bought years ago in England – will need to play a bit again to decide on the neck/bands – I’m currently favouring the tubular band from Geezer, No 50, using the 3 ply cotton – but it’ll be up to the swatches!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

sometimes you don’t have to re-invent the wheel…

I wanted to do a quickie – you know, no fuss, no muss.  I was going to make ‘Gossamer’ for a gift for my daughter-in-law – she tried on the last one, the charcoal Naturell  (see 'rural route') and she really liked it except it was a bit big in the bust and a bit short – she’s much taller than me, like about 5’6 – 5’7 so it would be nice if it were longer and of course, the sleeves should be longer as well – it was starting to sound like a lot of changes and maybe re-drafting the whole thing… I decided to chance it and live on the edge!
I made the smaller size, but set my tension one dot (only one dot, not a full number) higher (looser) than the pattern/gauge called for and it’s perfect!! The finished garment is about 10 cm longer, the sleeves are just right, it’s all good!
While I was rote-knitting this, no thinking involved, I got a better vision of my 7-yarn project and I’m now busy with that  - tell you more, when I’ve finished, later this week!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

is it the middle of April already?

Well, I have been doing some knitting – I made about 8 swatches for the ivory project and wasn’t getting anywhere. I made a poncho for Rhiana – using an acrylic yarn and the lace pattern from Gossamer – her mom liked it but she didn’t – said it was scratchy…what can I say – she is a princess, I guess.
I did my KnS (Knit’nStyle) project for #181 – trying to keep track of when and where that magazine is going to show up is just plain confusing. My editor refers to the month that it is for, but is really 2 months earlier, like when it shows up on the newsstand. I know I’m confused! My pay check is referenced by the proposed news stand appearance. My contract is for the work due date which is about 4 months before the on-sale date… so I keep track by the issue number – old habits are hard to break! Anyway, the garment is a mid gauge version of ‘Angled’ and it turned out really well.
I got a new computer – my offspring chipped in for a birthday present and it’s been a bit of a learning curve, new programs, etc – usually I’m like, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it; don’t change anything, I like it the way it is; but they felt it was time for me to move on! It took a few days to get the keyboard sorted – kept getting the French e with an accent instead of the question mark…had to mess around with location and all that – if you say you’re in Canada, they think everyone here should be typing in French, so I’m posing as an American…
Managed to get that pesky year-end bookkeeping done, so good for me!
Then, I realized, I have a bunch of yarn to play with…over the past few weeks, packages had arrived from three yarn companies with supplies for future KnS projects – time to swatch some more!
There are 3 different yarns – now, if you know me, you may realize that I am talking hand knitting yarns that I’m not really familiar with. Most of my knitting is on the standard gauge machine, using machine knitting yarns – a different ball game. Branching out into the world of hand knitting yarns to use on the mid gauge machine is always an experiment. I choose them by fibre content and, going by the manufacturer’s suggested gauge and yardage, try to estimate what I will need for my project and usually add an extra ball or two, JIC (just in case) – that reminds me – what is the difference between a skein and a ball? In Canada, we generally call it a ball of yarn when it is wound into a ball or oblong shape where you pull the end from the centre. If it's in a big loop, twisted and rolled back into itself, it'S a skein or a hank, like when your mom used to make you hold it out on your arms while she wound it into a ball... If it is wound onto a small cardboard tube with the end on the outside, it’s a ball – please don’t answer this, I’m just saying…it doesn’t really matter!
Back to choosing yarn for the KnS projects, I don’t really care what colour I’m using because I don’t get to keep the garment, so I just pick something that I think will photograph well, but I have come to the conclusion that selecting a yarn by the colours on a webpage is not an exact science and am usually glad I was not trying to pick an exact colour or match something. Just for fun and inspiration - even though I have a general idea  or plan of what to make with the chosen yarn, nothing is carved in stone - I need to play with gauge, stitch size and possible stitch designs. Generally I like my finished machine knitting to be tighter in gauge that what is the manufacturer’s suggestion. My swatches here are the temps – just to see what stitch size is going to work best and give the ‘feel’ I want – the ‘lines’ are a loose row between stitch sizes and the holes are for the number of stitch size used. I knit almost the whole ball - to sort of guess how far the yarn is going to take me from this - then, feel each stitch size and decide what number to use - then rewind back onto the cone for the real tension swatch.
Stay tuned! Today, I’m making another ‘Gossamer’ – it’s my DIL’s birthday and I’m behind, again!!