Tuesday, April 29, 2014

I'm only telling you this...

because I know you’re really interested and you’ll learn something that you may use…Here’s my first swatch for ‘TGW cardi’.  My yarn is very fine – they don’t call it lace weight for nothing! I do believe it is like what they used for Shetland lace shawls and apparently the value of the shawl was judged by being able to draw the shawl through one’s wedding ring – a small bit of trivia from my trip to Scotland many years ago! Anyway, it is 2 ply alpaca, 437 yds/50g ball – I’m using the blue because it’s a leftover and I don’t want to waste any of the real colour because this type of swatching can eat up a fair amount of yarn before you get to where you want.
I mentioned that I was going to try longstitch for the front because I want a two=sided fabric so it will be finished automatically if/when the front folds back – a full needle rib could work but it may be too stretchy and the longstitch will add some stability to the fabric, but with this fine yarn, should still have some softness and drape.
Now, don’t look at the cast-on, I just did a quick and easy zigzag, hang the comb and get right into it – no sense in wasting time because I’m not really sure of tension/stitch size at this point. I have used this yarn in 2 projects previously  -  Knitwords No 35, ‘Make Room for Baby’, a maternity sweater, was a single bed tuck stitch that I used the blue, at T7 because of the tuck and I didn’t want it to be too heavy – it was tucking 6 rows at one point – and in No 48, ‘Threeway’ which was a tuck rib  at T3/2 with a single bed tuck at T3.
Based on the above history, I’ve decided to try T4/4 for my longstitch trials. So, here’s what I do –make notes because you know you won’t remember or you’ll think you did but you won’t or you’ll second guess and not trust yourself anyway.
The first part, starting from the bottom, was T4/4, both beds knit to the left, rib bed only knits to the right and knit 20 rows. T10/10, cancel longstitch setting and knit a row as a marker. Now, set it so the main bed only knits  to the right and both beds knit to the left. Knit 20 rows or so. Now, transfer everything to main bed. T4, knit 20 rows.
I always do this on a ribbed swatch  (end with stockinette) because now it will be easy to look at when it’s off the machine and you’ll know which side is which – the stockinette is on the side away/purl side, on the machine.
 The T4 stockinette is pretty thin/flimsy so I added in a second strand and at T8, yarn doubled,  knit another 20 rows and then cast off – don’t just drop it off because now you can wash the swatch before really evaluating it to see where you need to make changes. At this point, the second longstitch  looks pretty good because the stockinette side/side away looks nice – maybe a bit of tension adjustment, but it feels about the same thickness as the double stranded stockinette at the top.
I’m going to wash this now  and let it dry overnight – I’m getting excited! TTYL!

Monday, April 28, 2014

sometimes I only watch...

to see what they are wearing!! did you catch ‘The Good Wife’ last night? I have been very conflicted about this show lately and haven’t decided whether to quit it or not – well, it’s not like there’s a whole lot of other good drama to replace it but the plot has definitely run to the rails in my opinion. But right near the end of last night’s episode, where Alicia is having a bit of a heart to heart with Owen (her brother – I ‘ve missed him), she has on a pretty cool sweater – most of her work wardrobe is a little too stark for me, but it does suit her – but I’ve been thinking about that cardigan all day and, luckily I have it on my PVR/dvr (whatever you call it, where you record the show) and I’ve watched it over a couple of times – the fronts looks like two fairly solid pieces, just sort of long rectangles, maybe in a ribbed, flat stitch, like a longstitch so it looks like stockinette, but is two-sided so when the ‘lapel’ folds back, it’s finished, no closures. The back is shorter by about maybe 4 inches or so and has a deep, ribbed band at the bottom, just below the waist, with soft looking stockinette for the rest of it – maybe shaped at the side seams to pull in the front for a bit of fit. The sleeves are snug, fitted, set-in, of soft stockinette and the yarn is likely cashmere or at least alpaca, but it’s a standard gauge knit, I think…I have some Misti Alpaca lace weight that I may just play around with…I could use it single stranded for the ribbed part and double stranded for the stockinette...maybe between sleeves of the LK thing...I've got red, black, camel, and ivory...

shocked, I’ll tell you!

I’ve been LK-ing – that’s what I call  working on the mid gauge LK150…working on a tuck stitch pattern with a metallic-ky yarn for the holiday 2014 (#194) issue of KnitStyle magazine – the yarn is ticking me off! Well, for all of the Back, I was blaming it on the yarn and then I thought, hummmm…maybe something else is happening here. I’ll back up a step – what was frustrating me was the yarn seemed to be grabbing  or sticking at the beginning of the row, especially on the right side and it kept either making a loose stitch or, if I wasn’t really paying attention, actually dropping the stitch – totally frustrating when you have other things to pay attention to, like making sure you are selecting the needles for the tuck stitch, never mind the 'correct' needles…I kept looking at the sides of the carriage, trying to think if I had dropped or bumped the carriage (heaven forbid!). It looked fine and there didn’t seem to be a reason for the problem. Then, before I started on the Front, I figured I should look a little closer. Huh! the brushes underneath – darn if the one on the under side right  (which would be the one at the beginning the row when the carriage is on the right) seems to be kind of stiff.
Do I feel bad! – look at that felted piece of crud that was jammed under the brush – no wonder the poor thing wasn’t working properly! I have no idea how that happened, obviously stuff built up over the years of use - that took some time to accumulate! it wasn't a one time thing – nothing under the other side though…
Just a word of warning, if you're going to screwdriver anything, make sure you have the proper screwdriver - the screws on any knitting machine are way to easy to strip if you aren't careful and know what you are doing... Put it back together and, wow, I owe the yarn (it’s New Smoking from Filatura di Crosa) and whoever else I was cussing out, an apology – everything is working fine!
Don’t let this photo scare you – this is the Front and the garment is an A-line pullover with an elliptical hem, shorter in the front, longer in the back – looks weird here, though!!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

kinky knitting…

 You're not going to believe what I did....
and you may wonder why I did it...
I told you before I have a bit of an obsession with that raglan cardigan and seeing how I can change it up. (see ‘who needs Sudoku? Nov 2/13’ and ‘1rt raglan, March 12/14)
I have 'Borderline' from #25 - how long ago was that? 2003... So, basically it was a lace tunic, A-line shaped because of the lace pattern (diminishing Рthere are more holes across each row of the pattern at the bottom and gets less as it moves up, to whole rows of plain stockinette, so the bottom is much wider with the same number of stitches) - it was a modified drop shoulder pullover from the shoulder pad days and it's been sitting on the shelf for quite a while - I have taken it out occasionally, put it on and turned this way and that, you know how you do, hoping to see something that isn't there, take it off and sigh...Without shoulder pads, it is too long and sloppy looking but the lace border, love it and the yarn - it's that beautiful mercerized cotton from Yeoman Yarns, Cannelé and the colour is that sharp, stunning bright white...there must be some way to repurpose this garment...
I started by washing the garment (again) to make sure it was really clean (it was or is now!). My plan is to unravel it so far and change it into a raglan and cut and sew the front to make it a cardigan. Now, I know you’re thinking, say what? But right now it’s useless to me – I can give it away, but who else is going to wear it and appreciate it? Face it, it’s out of style, so, nothing ventured, nothing gained. I began undoing it, from the neck, of course. Took off the neckline, undid the shoulders, separated the sleeves from the body and looked at it all. I’m going to shorten it by at least 10 cm in the body, from the underarm down, so I should have plenty of yarn to reknit the raglans. Starting with the back, I unraveled it to the underarm and then removed another 4 inches, a plain stockinette part, rehung the stitches – I knew how many from my original pattern notes and I knew the stitch dial size I used. The yarn is all crinkly because it takes the shape of the knit, especially after that length of time, etc – nothing you can do about it. Just reknit and hopefully, relaundering the final thing will take the kinks out. Now, remember the yarn, it’s a very good quality mercerized cotton, not just some junky acrylic.
Back finished as a raglan. I do admit, didn’t even totally undo the side seams – they were so nicely done and all matched up, there was no reason to undo the bottom. On the front, I unraveled it to the same spot as the back, rehung the row and then took each side off on separate waste yarn. Carefully sewed and cut the front apart (see ‘reno for spots in dots’ June 30, 2010) – I am going to end up taking about an inch out of the centre front, but the bands will make up for it later, no worries.
Rehung the front, knit the raglan – I didn’t worry about repeating the patterning on the Back or Fronts because the next repeat up would have been in the centre and it wasn’t worth dealing with. On the sleeves, they were quite wide and I took them back further down to allow narrowing the sleeve so I did reknit the lace pattern on the sleeves, shifting the motifs above the underarm to match the new shape of the sleeve. Put it all back together, made a new neckband as per the original ‘Rich Raglan’ pattern, made the front bands per the reno blogpost, darned in all ends, washed and dried it, gave ‘er a good press and I’m loving it!!! Oh yeah, and found some cute, white shank buttons to finish it off with! So, while not exactly perfect – on close inspection, you can see a bit of a line on the fronts where I began reknitting, but it isn’t really noticeable when it’s on and I have a ‘new’ wearable, raglan cardi with this kick-ass lace pattern!

Friday, April 25, 2014

buttoned up...

it’s almost the end of April…I just heard  on the radio that we’ve had 67 cm of snowfall so far this month – really? what’s up with that? well, it is sure to end sometime…

I had a button sewing day today. I did make a sleeveless stockinette shell to go with my sister’s 1RT raglan – I used the tank pattern from No 39, ‘Tie One On’,  made the neck higher and didn’t  shape the side seams – really just used the pattern for the hems and edges, I guess – it is quick, easy and makes a nice finished piece without too much fuss. It took me this long to get the buttons on the cardigan, so I thought I’d tell you about it before I finally got it in the mail…

Another thing that has been hanging around was the lace cardi that I did on the standard gauge machine to simulate the mid gauge pattern from KS190 (see Jan 26/14) – I made it in Cannele (Yeoman Yarns) glycine – the colour is unusual – not quite a lilac and not really a pale blue – I finally found some little ball buttons that are perfect on it – I’m totally happy with this one!
(and I have another one that I'll tell you  about later!)

Friday, April 11, 2014

notes for Stormy Weather

There was a knitalong supposed to be happening for my design, ‘Stormy Weather’ from Knit’nStyle #189 last December– not sure what happened, but I got tired of waiting and finally went ahead and made mine- I think spring is finally here and I want to be able to wear it! Here are my extra notes and photos for anyone interested.
Swatch –I actually made new swatches because I wasn’t positive with the original ones. I made one at T4.5 - it measured 22 sts and 31 rows to 10 cm. This one I had trouble knitting – needed lots of weight and still had a few tucks happening where there was an extra large slub in the yarn. The second one at T5 went much smoother and felt better – got 21 sts and 30 rows – not a big deal of difference between the two but I know from experience that if you’re having trouble knitting the swatch it’s going to be magnified in the garment.
You’ll still need a fair bit of weights – the 3 hanger combs at the cast-on , with 2 small ribber weights and then claw weights that I’m moving up at the edges. Also used yarn spray – made a big difference!
Sizing – figure out what size you want – please pay attention to the hint of using the next size up in width especially – this yarn has a fair weight to it because of the rayon and will lengthen considerably from what it looks on the machine – even after I got my Back off the machine, I went yikes, it looks too short and wide, but a few minutes of relaxing made a difference. Also, check the length in the schematic – I did mean this to be just above crotch-length. KnitnStyle called it a tunic, but I didn’t do it to be a tunic (I think of a tunic as completely covering your butt and  well below the crotch) – and the model was 6’2” so don’t rely on the photo for what you want it to look like on you – measure!!! or better yet put on a garment that you like the fit and length and compare…same thing with the sleeve – you can’t really tell in the photo, but they pushed up the sleeves in some of the photos so this may lead you to think  they will be too short – I don’t think so…BTW, the best way to measure for the sleeve – this is a drop shoulder – after you’ve joined the shoulder seams, put it on and then you will be able to see how far down the shoulder comes and get a much more accurate sleeve length measurement.
Color- pooling – please read my article in KnS – I  am using the same colourway as the sample garment in the magazine – the denim. I got another 10 balls because I had about 5 leftover from the original - making the 4th size (finished bust, 44 in, same number of sts for length as in the pattern) – I am finished knitting the pieces and I have a full ball and two small partials left.
My wool-winder is actually a cone winder, so I wind it onto a cone and the end you’re knitting from comes off the outside of the ball – this is great because you can see the colour as it’s coming and it’s easier to judge how much there is of that colour before it changes. If you only have a winder that gives you a tail that feeds out of the centre, I would still try to use it from the outside for the above reason. Also, if using yarn spray, it works best from the outside of the cone…)
Back - after you hang the cast-on side for the second half, remember to reverse your needles – flip it, the neckline  will be at the opposite end. Leave the waste yarn in – I found it really helpful to have it there when you are watching your second set of colours/stripes – it’s easier to see the centre and kind of count from there to keep track if your stripes are working out – don’t be afraid to throw in another couple of rows from a separate ball if you need, especially on the larger sizes. If you have the denim colour way, I just watched the light blue stripes and tried to make them the same on each half…you only have to do this on the back and fronts so it looks okay over the shoulder and you want the side seams to look sort of matched and where you begin knitting the sleeves down – the sleeves and hood can be all dark if you want (or if it’s all there is left) – you’ll have mostly dark shades left as there is much less of the light blue shade per ball…
Front – I decided that I’d like to have a full front opening zipper, so I did not rehang the second side, just knit it in reverse of the first front and had waste yarn on both front edges. I was going to knit an outside facing, vertically, like half the placket from the original design for each side, without the vee bottom, but I figured that was too much work!! - also, running out of yarn here – the front edges of my ‘In the Tweeds’ from Serial Stuff mid gauge will work perfectly – it is a zip front sideways knit jacket and I can use the extra ball of yarn for some patch pockets, √† la Hoods Up!
Front Edges. Take number of sts and reduce by 10%. Bring n’s to D. Using MC, double stranded, loosely chain on, behind latches. With purl side facing, hang stitches from WY gathering evenly across row. Close latches and pull through chain. Manually knit loose row and chain cast off. Repeat for other side.
Zipper. Finish assembly of garment, except for zipper. Wash and dry garment to pre-shrink before zipper application. In my experience, metal teeth zippers will lay flat and not buckle or ripple as much as plastic coil zippers do with subsequent washings.
Measure for zipper after laundering. Although zippers can be shortened (see below), I prefer to get a slightly short zipper and set it up from the bottom as needed.
Plastic zippers can be shortened by cutting ‘teeth’ off the zipper tape at each side, individually with a razor blade knife. Metal zipper teeth can be removed with needle nosed pliers.
Hand stitch at top of each side to create new stop for zipper, after installation.
Sewing by hand. I find sewing the zipper in by hand gives a better-looking finish and causes
less rippling with subsequent washings. It is easier to achieve a hidden stitch by hand than sewing with machine. Pin zipper to inside of band and adjust if necessary. Position teeth just even with finished edge. Try garment on and make sure zipper is correct length, not pulling up or stretching garment front. Also check for any matching points on garment, i.e. pocket placement and top and bottom of zipper. Do not try to get the teeth too close to the knit as the zipper will snag the fibres. Use thread to match zipper tape and stab stitch front edge, close to zipper teeth, but far enough away so zipper head does not catch thread - do not take long stitches as the thread could be snagged and pulled out or broken in use. Using a whip stitch, catch outside edge of zipper tape and tack to inside of garment. The bottom edges of the zipper tape are extremely hard to hand sew through. Use the sewing machine and thread to match garment on top and stitch vertically across bottom of zipper tape to secure, following line of knit stitches from top side to hide stitching.
 Having said all that, practice what you preach, you say? Gosh, I’m fresh off a sewing machine zipper installation which took at least 5 minutes of sewing as opposed to maybe an hour of hand stitching – guess what I did? Looks good to me!! I even used the sewing machine for the pockets!
Happy Spring!

Thursday, April 10, 2014


well, I got lucky! no, not that way! I found an extra half cone of the Honiburd Mini Cotton Rainbow in the natural colour, so now I have enough to make that hoodie from No 22 (see remake of a remake, Feb 26/14) in a solid colour - the natural will be great for all seasons! I’m so happy I could just knit!
What a good pattern (am I allowed to say that? oh well, I just did and I think it’s true!) – fun to knit, a few extra cool details – the outside seaming is right back in style – I was checking out some things at Anthropologie and was amazed to see all the exterior seaming.
A few extra points:
When you’re finished shortrowing the very shallow sleeve cap (a good one to start with if you’ve never done this technique before), there is an RTR which makes a nice added detail to the seam-on-machine technique of attaching the sleeve – take it off on the garter bar and set aside (so I do have an over-abundance of garter bars!) – before breaking the yarn and taking it off, pull off 4X the width of the needles and then cut – this will be enough to make the final loose row for the seam/cast-off and eliminate a couple of ends to darn in…
After all the pieces are knit – the hood last (took 3oz/80g from the second cone), put everything together, except attaching the hood to the neckline, wash it all and then work on the final zipper deal.
The zipper technique… well, it’s pretty cool – if you don’t like hand sewing and you are fairly proficient with your sewing machine, this may work for you – it looks awesome  and very professional finished – there is no outside stitching of any sort showing. Another advantage, I wanted to use a metal zipper because I think they lay better and don’t buckle out as much as a plastic or coil zipper will but they seem to be only available locally in very basic colours, so I went with the white tape/silver teeth zipper and I think it works fine with this installation because only the teeth show…
Following the instructions in the pattern, you make two opposite front bands with waste yarn separating them, block it out and then pin the zipper in place. Make sure when you’re sewing the zipper with the sewing machine, do both sides in the same direction – don’t sew up one side and down the other – this will stretch them in opposing directions – sew from bottom to top, change your zipper foot to the other side and sew the second side from bottom to top as well.
After you have the zipper sewn on the front bands, it's attached to the garment on the knitting machine - hang the right side of the garment, knit side facing you, hem will be at the right hand side. Now, hang the band with the male side of the zipper, garter row side, with bottom of zipper at bottom of garment, of course – this looks a bit weird but it’s right – make notes of where your hem band and yarn marks are so you can match up the other side.   
The other good thing about this zipper method is that if it's not going well and doesn't look good, you can abandon it at anytime and there is nothing to lose, like open stitches - just pull it off and start over or go with something else that works for you! 
I'm going to love this one, it's so cozy!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

whiz kid?

I’ve never been called that, at least that I know of. The online definition:
‘a youthful and exceptionally intelligent, successful, or influential person in a given field.’
huh? who knew? I can take it…too bad it doesn’t mention my naturally curly hair...
Anyway, I just got the latest KnitStyle, #191, June 2014 – cool!

And, here it is, right on page 18:

‘Machine knitting wiz kid Mary Anne Oger brings you her Swish Shrug, knitted in Elisabeth Lavold/KFI’s Hempathy, using her mid-gauge for working with a fine cotton to great effect.’

oh, oh! where’s the tech editor or whoever is supposed to check these things? and I just noticed, the bottom of the pages all say April 2014...gosh it’s hard to get good help! And I want you to know that I spelled Elsebeth correctly....