Sunday, November 18, 2012

Light bulb moment

I’m working on my next Knit’nStyle project. I have Berrroco Linsey, a ‘self-stripping’ DK yarn, a cotton/linen blend that looks real pretty in the skein - it’s a new colorway and there was nothing on their website to show me what it looked like knit up and there are no instructions as to how to use it or anything… It’s for the June/summer issue and I’m doing a summer cardigan with the body portion sideways knit and the yoke knit up and down, in an attempt to use the yarn to its best advantage and control the color placement. First thing I did was to wind the skeins into balls that are useable on the machine – I have an old cone winder that puts the yarn onto a small plastic cone so you can knit some and then take it off the machine without breaking the yarn and rewind it onto the same cone without having to go to the end of the ball…
Looking at the skein itself, there is no way to tell which end you should begin with, but once it’s on the cone you can tell by the outside colour – you have a 50/50 chance of getting the same colour to start…and of course, you can rewind from the outside to change it...notice that random blue one...
I started off knitting one entire ball, experimenting with stitch size to know what tension works best. Then I knit another full ball with my stitch pattern and actual tension swatch and felt like I knew what to expect from this yarn. There seems to be no repeat through the ball. So I made the body back (sideways), beginning with a ball that had red/pink on the outside and  miraculously, one ball took me to the centre of the back, ending with yellow. So, for the other side to match, I used the next ball beginning with yellow. I  got lucky and it looked good. 
Now, for the fronts to match, I thought I should plan a little more. I figured it would be reasonable to make each front from the centre to the side to get them to match. First side done, took about 1.5 hours with the patterning. Second side, reversing direction and flipping patterning, so they would match, another  hour and a half – the pattern matches but the colours don’t… Pick another cone that I’m sure will match the side I want to keep…it’s looking good – an hour and half later I have 2 matching left fronts…arrgghhh!!!
The light bulb goes on! Oh, gosh, golly, why didn’t I think of this before?  It only takes 10 minutes to knit the ball in stockinette same width as the piece I’m going to knit and I could tell if the colours are working out before having to put all the work into the patterning. Bang my head on the wall, knit each ball in stockinette and  pick the correct one for the next piece – get them all made and life’s good, I'll make that deadline  – somehow I don’t feel like Einstein though! Hope this saves you some time!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Knit’nStyle #183 is out – I haven’t received my copy yet so I’m not sure how my garment faired in the photo shoot – I’ve only seen the snippet on their website. I shipped it off to them in late July, but I did get to re-make it in my size, to check the pattern, and because I liked it so much and I had enough of the same yarn which is luscious, BTW (Rowan felted tweed aran DK). We photo-ed  when I did my mini-shoot for the Fall Pattern of the Month.

The garment is A-line shaped. The fronts are sideways knit from centre front to side and the A-line is accomplished with shortrowing. The back is just a rectangle, knit from top to bottom so the ribbed shawl collar matches with the front edges. It is a bit of a different shape and I thought it was fun to make – looks like lots going on because it is made on the LK150 (as are all my KnS designs) so all the garter ridges, the cabling, and the ribs are all hand transferred. The weather here finally turned cooler (it’s inevitable, believe me) and I did design this as an outdoor weight jacket, so I was able to wear it a couple of times last week and got surprising compliments (all good) from non-knitters, noticing that it looked good and it looked unique!!  See ‘blame it on the weather’ Jul 20, ’12, for a close up swatch and some other fun details! 
I want to give a shout out to Michael Hale of Toronto, who's design in KNITWORDS No 48 was my inspiration for this garment - his was a large rectangle poncho that he had made on his tricked out Ultimate Sweater Machine - he had 2 machines put together along with a 30 needle extension kit, so his poncho was 228 stitches by 220 rows - I had always wanted to make a smaller, more fitted version.

Nipigon nylons...

Ever heard of them? Back in the day,  girls/women/ladies wore nylon stockings with a garter belt to hold them up – what a pain…anyway, pantyhose came out and we put that garter belt stuff behind us. Yeah, I know,  I’m showing my age, but it’s all good… The point is, the ‘nylons’ thing…during my high school days, I lived in a rural area and took the school bus. We were referred to as farmer kids or country bumpkins and as a real insult, on cold days, other kids would say things like, ‘oh, you wearing your Nipigon Nylons today?’ Nipigon is a small community about 100 km north of Thunder Bay and it was like the ultimate hick town and the NN’s were referring to old men’s work socks that were grey, ribbed, with a red stripe on the top and maybe a band of ivory between the stripes. Well, later, someone in Nipigon decided to lay claim to the fame of the socks and you can buy tee shirts with a NN slogan on it and I’m sure they  sell the socks too. It may be just a regional thing, but you can google it and see what they say…

So, back to boot cuffs - I do have this lovely ragg wool (like standard gauge weight, perfect for ribbed socks) on my shelf,  in several colours, red/ivory, black/ivory, plum/ivory and teal/ivory, but no grey…I wanted to make Nipigon Nylon boot cuffs. So, I do have a freebie sock pattern on my website – just use the cuff and put some stripes in it…It’s 2X2 rib in the 2X1 needle arrangement to make it nice and stretchy, you’ll need it bigger that the ankle cuff size, so I tried 50-0-50 n’s at T8/8, 70 rows total – I love ‘em and don’t they just look perfect with my red John Fluevog Operettas?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Boot cuffs

Last week, my daughter-in-law asked me if I could make some legwarmers that weren’t really legwarmers, just the top of legwarmers... She had this idea that her new boots needed some dressing up and, a knitted, cable-y thing might just be what she wanted. I said sure, if you have any more info, send it to me and I’ll see what I can come up with.

Well, who knew? Call ‘em fake legwarmers, boot toppers, boot cuffs, whatever, they are all over the internet! I did a few googles and whatever, to see what they were all about and then sat down with her with some yarns and old swatches to see what she really had in mind. The swatches were mostly from some of my KnS projects because I thought she was looking for the mid gauge weight of yarn and she really liked the look of the ‘Cable Gal’ (#176 Dec 2011), colour, fibre, thickness and stitch.  We determined that she wanted to tuck the bottom portion into her boot and have 2-3 inches above, so I settled on planning it to be 13-14 inches in circumference and at least 6 inches long.
I got the first pair made and she loved them!! She has 2 pairs of boots and this set looked good with boots!

Then, in true MAO fashion, I went on to quickly dash off a few more sets, based on recent KnS designs.
On this pair, I used some of the cables from KnS #183 ( I just checked their website and it’s out – more on that later) 'Parallels' - the various cables are outlined with a tuck rib and the top/bottom is my version of a ‘cheater’ garter stitch for the knitting machine – the yarn is Wagtail 12 ply mohair/wool  from Australia that I had leftover from KW#39 – in true, lazy, machine-knitter manner, I wasn’t into making swatches first, I just used  my original tension and gauge and hoped for the best – after all, legs come in all sizes, they’ll fit someone!!

This combo is using Rowan felted aran tweed and the stitch pattern border from KnS #182, Dec ‘12 (Lace Medley tunic) – I thought they could be worn either way with the top folded down over the boot or just straight up to the knee, depending on how tall the boot is. I did decrease after the purls and eyelet rows (which creates a nice fold) so the inside part (just stockinette with a narrow band of 1X1 rib to stop it from curling) would be narrower than the top cuff part.

How’s that for recycling - the patterns, I mean…
Oh, I have an idea for the standard gauge…


It felt good...

Several weeks ago, my friend Cathy asked if I had any old sweaters that would be felt-able, that I would be willing to part with…well, of course, she knows that I’ve always loved natural fibres and if I hadn’t almost always used pure wool, no one would, right? Believe it or not, I had bins of sweaters! Her sister Janice, was into making felted mittens and  wondered if I had anything she could use. She had been making the rounds of local thrift shops, eagerly buying things and then, holding her breath as the washer stopped, hoping for shrunken treasures.
I sorted through stuff and found more than I could believe I still had. She came by today to show me what she’d done and to give me a finished pair. There were several for me to choose  from and the set that immediately caught my eye was one of my most favourite  fairisle designs from my ‘Casual Classics’ booklet back in 1995. Photo at right is Cathy modeling the original sweater.  The khaki and black, short-float geometric, called ‘squares and diamonds’, knit in Forsell’s Pure New 4 ply Wool, felted tightly and beautifully and formed the back and cuff of the mitten.  Janice paired it with pieces of two other solid coloured garments that I recognized as my work also. The inside of the mitts are lined with fleece, cozy and soft. A button on each cuff with a strap of recycled old-skirt-leather hold the pair together.
Nice job, Janice, thanks so much!