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With my scrappy leftovers hat finished, the only other project I have on the needles is a sock which is just slightly too complicated for knit night and football games. So, I thought to myself, what should I knit? Then my sworn-sister made a Sockhead Slouch Hat... and there it was. My next hat. A stockinette slouchy hat in sock yarn will take approximately zero mental effort and approximately forever to finish - what could be more perfect for knit nights?

The bare beginnings of a hat on 16" circular needles, with an entire ball of multi-coloured sock yarn above it, sit on a teal desktop.

I have two balls of Trekking XXL in this rainbow colourway, but despite being the same dye lot, they look totally different. This one seems to be mostly marled; the other has the colours in each ply matching up more closely. This would have driven me crazy for socks, but for a hat I'll just use one ball of yarn and it won't matter at all!

The Trekking is finer than the "standard" sock yarn called for in the pattern, so I'm using size 2 (2.75mm) instead of 2.5 (3.00mm) needles, and I've cast on for the 152 stitch size based on my gauge math (8 stitches per inch x 21.5 inches around my head x 0.9 for snugness = 154.8) - I'm told the hat is stretchy and large, but at worst if it's too big for me then it becomes someone else's hat.

There's a matching cowl pattern for the hat, which I plan to knit on the machine using the more solid variant of the yarn. It will be a good excuse use of the ribber, with which I haven't yet fully acquainted myself. The machine can either knit ribbing or in the round, but since the cowl has only a bit of ribbing at the top and bottom, it won't take much to seam that up the side. And I won't mind if the hat and cowl aren't exactly matching in their stripes or colour progression, either.

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I have seven bobbins for Persistence, the Schacht-Reeves wheel, so after I'd fully filled six of them with Fleece 412 singles, I used the seventh to ply. And, very exciting, I used the prototype version of a box-style lazy kate that Michael helped me build! It needs some refinement, but it does function. The idea was to have a workaround for the annoyance of having to hold a bobbin in just the right spot while poking the skewer through first one side of the kate, then the bobbin, then the other side. That part of it works well, but I didn't think the tensioning mechanism through at all, so it's still not quite what I'm looking for. Here it is holding all six full bobbins:

Six full bobbins of singles sit inside a plywood box.

Ultimately I'd like to build one with thinner, nicer wood (this was knocked together out of scrap plywood that we already had in the garage) that has slots to hold four bobbins at once. Am I going to make a four-ply yarn? I don't know, but I'd like to be able to!

Conventional wisdom teaches to ply at low ratios, but I'm not sure why, as it goes so much faster on the big wheel with the fast whorl! I counted my treadles to make sure that I got the same amount of plying twist in each section of yarn, and plied all eight of these skeins in a weekend.

That gave me 848 yards of round three-ply yarn to just over a pound of fibre spun up, which is... not enough for the sweater pattern I've picked out. If I can get gauge, I'm planning to knit the Izel cardigan - I love the cable details, the ribbing on the back, and the hidden pockets.

Fortunately, I have enough of The Fleece remaining to spin another thousand yards if I need to, so I'm sure I'll eventually have spun enough yarn to knit a whole sweater. I'll start by spinning three more bobbins-ful and see how far I get! Meanwhile, there's really no reason why I can't wash and dry the yarn I already have, and get started on swatching and... (gulp) actually knitting a sweater for myself.

Eight hanks of brown three-ply yarn sit on a stone countertop.

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After the Which Way shawl was done, even with the extra rows I added in, there was nearly a full ball of Cascade 220 Sport left over, plus remnants of each of the five colours of Mad Hatter. I wanted to knit something that would really show off the colours, yet look completely different from the stripy shawl, and used the free Syxx Hat pattern on Ravelry as my starting point - but I wanted a slouchy hat, instead of one that's ribbed and fitted.

I didn't want to bother with knitting a gauge swatch (lazy!) so I decided to do the hat top-down and just use its beginning as my swatch (efficient!) instead. I cast on eight stitches and worked increases every other row until I had enough to measure (six stitches to the inch), did some math, and then continued to increase until I had 128 stitches on the needles.

Trying to estimate when to start the textured section of the hat was a little tricky, and I did have to rip back a little bit to start it earlier, but I think I got it in the right place. And apparently this is my colour scheme now - here I am modeling the hat in front of one of my first watercolour paintings, which is a surprisingly good match!

Pirate modeling the Which Scraps Hat in front of a watercolour painting that matches its rainbow colours

I absolutely love the look of this stitch pattern. The way the darker yarn makes a lattice over the rainbow colours, the texture and depth of the honeycomb, the way the slipped stitches pull the stockinette sections into polygons instead of just plain bricks - it's perfect.

A closeup of the Which Scraps Hat pattern showing a black lattice over rainbow stitches

One thing wasn't perfect, though: I ran out of the 220 Sport with one round and the bindoff remaining. Fortunately, I had some yarn in my stash leftover from a different project that matched the dark gray colour perfectly. It was slightly lighter in weight, but because it was just the last round, it's practically invisible. The hat does roll up a bit at the brim because it has no ribbing, but that's mostly only visible while it's not on my head, so I don't mind. It fits just the way I wanted to, and I think it's cute!

Even the inside is neat to look at:

The inside of the Which Scraps Hat, showing the stitch construction

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The Which Way shawl was completed in a casual six weeks (mostly while watching football or at our weekly virtual knit night) with a combination of Cascade 220 Sport in "Jet" (a dark charcoal gray) and a set of Wonderland Yarns Mad Hatter mini-skeins in the Mad Tea Party colourway, on the recommended US 6/4mm needles. I decided to add a few extra rows to the Which Way shawl, both because I had the extra yarn to do it and because I didn't really care for the little tail divot in the original pattern. It didn't take too much extra time, although it did mean that I had to dip into the third skein of 220 Sport.

A severe blocking did wonders for the drape of the fabric and for fixing the cupped look at the beginning when I was carrying the yarns a little too tightly. Here it is after washing, pinned and stretched out on the floor to dry:

The Which Way shawl, pinned out on the floor

Blocking wires made that task much easier than only using pins would have! The green and yellow sections are very close in hue, but there is a difference there. A closeup shows the chevron stripes and center spine, as well as the different textures of the two yarns. The 220 Sport is a loose, slightly fuzzy two-ply, while the Mad Hatter is a smooth, round yarn made of four plies:

A closeup view of the Which Way shawl, showing chevron stripes of purple and blue alternating with black.

The shawl matches my hair nicely... but now that my hair is getting longer, I'm not sure what to do with it when I wrap a shawl around my neck! Tucking it under the shawl seems strange, but flipping it over makes it just stick straight out in the back. I guess I'm going to have to wait 'til it grows out a little more.

Pirate, modeling the Which Way shawl.

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I actually finished the Breathe and Hope shawl two weeks ago, and I've finally gotten around to taking pictures of it!

The shawl took about two months to knit, although of course the actual knitting time was much less than that. I went through spurts of working on it for hours at a time, and then doing other things for a week. The navy is Cascade Heritage, and the variegated is Zen Yarn Garden Serenity 20 in the "Maltese" colourway. The sample for the original pattern had very little contrast between the solid and variegated yarns, but I wanted something a little less subtle.

I enjoyed knitting this pattern! It was well-written and the sections each seemed to go quickly. Each of the textured sections is a little different from the others, which adds a lot of visual (and knitting) interest, and the knotty stitch bindoff gives a pretty edge to the whole thing. I'd definitely knit it again - the boomerang shape works well for staying around my neck and shoulders. And I think I should be able to recreate that shape on the knitting machine!

Pirate modeling the Breathe and Hope shawl

Here's a closeup showing some of the textured stitches. The vertical striped sections really do pull in, so I'm glad I used a larger needle (as suggested in the pattern) for those parts.

Sections of vertical stripes alternate with sections of textured horizontal stripes.

As soon as I finished it, I cast on for the Which Way shawl. It's been in my queue for a while, so that I can use the rainbow of Mad Hatter mini-skeins that I got as a winterholiday gift. It's going very quickly, as it's pretty much miles and miles of plain stockinette with just a few increases and decreases to pay attention to. This is just the beginning:

The very beginning of a stripy shawl, with a rainbow of yarn surrounding it.

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Much to the dismay of all my knuckles (which are rebelling, either due to July's heat and humidity, or to the annoyance of holding my hands in a particular position for too long) I've been spinning daily for the Tour de Fleece, and I'm up to three bobbins of singles!

An almost-full bobbin of fine brown single-ply yarn, still on the spinning wheel.

Some parts of the fibre are drafting a lot easier than others. Even though the sheep had been coated, the fleece didn't have zero vegetable matter in it. And it's very fine. Sometimes I have to stop to pick out a nep or a bit of straw, but for the most part it's going well.

I'm definitely leveling up my long-draw skills with this spinning project! Hopefully enough to make a lofty, airy three-ply yarn instead of a heavy, dense one. There's definitely enough fibre here to spin enough for a sweater (I have over two pounds of it) but I have yet more carded fleece in lighter colours that I may add to the project as a contrast colour. That will depend on what I want to knit, which I haven't quite decided yet. Of course.

While the Tour de France may have been postponed, I've been getting out for bike rides anyway. My goal is to ride at least 100 miles this month, which seems like a lot but really isn't. The real challenge is the hot and humid weather, not the biking!

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Over a decade ago, I excitedly bought a skein of Kureyon sock yarn and cast on for a stupid idea: I split the yarn in half, wound each half into a cake, and tried to knit from both ends of the ball at the same time, alternating every five rows.

A ball of Noro Kureyon Sock yarn in purples and greens.

I'd made a stripey striped scarf out of regular Kureyon yarn and loved it, and wanted to keep going with that theme.

A stripy scarf in progress, with four skeins of gradient yarn in every colour sitting on top of it.

Unfortunately, the sock yarn wasn't nearly as much fun to knit with as the thicker Kureyon was, and I got 1.3 socks into the project before putting it aside. (I noted at the time, "I hate this yarn and I am really glad I didn’t buy any more of it. The colors are wonderful. I love the striping effect. I can’t stand knitting it." Plus, flipping the ball of yarn over every five rounds was a tangly pain in the neck.

This year I decided that I was finally going to finish that pair of socks. I took them out - still on my trusty old bamboo needles! - and added a stripe here, a stripe there, hating the yarn just as much, loving the first sock just as much. It would be worth pushing through, I told myself. I tried on the first sock and it fit perfectly! So I counted its stripes and knit the same number of stripes on the second sock.

One of the reasons that I hated the yarn in the first place was that it was so inconsistent in its thickness. You can kind of see on the first sock how much thicker it was getting at the ribbing, but I didn't notice because that made it conveniently a little larger around my calf. But then when I started the toe on the second sock, it was with that thicker part of the yarn... and it just got more and more so as I went. Which I didn't realize until I tried them on, and then took a picture of one on top of the other.

Two stripey socks, one of them finished, one of them almost finished and still on the needles.

Heck.

The second sock is bigger in every way. It's wider, taller, thicker... I haven't even knit the ribbing for the cuff, and already the leg is longer than the first sock. With the same number of stripes. And while it's possible that my gauge has changed over the last decade, I knit the start of this sock right after I finished the first one. So that's not even an excuse.

Maybe I'll just put this yarn away for another decade.

Two differently sized striped socks.

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The "Breathe and Hope" shawl caught my eye, and not just because everyone else is knitting it - I love the alternating directions of the stripes, the texture of the pattern, and the option to make the stripes subtle or striking, depending on the yarn. I chose a skein of Cascade Heritage in Navy to be the solid background to a skein of Zen Yarn Garden Serenity 20 in Maltese, which is a lovely deep colourway of variegated blues and greens. It's enough contrast to show, but not so much that the finished shawl will be dizzyingly stripy (I hope).

The first few sections went really quickly, of course, since the rows are so short. I've just finished one of the vertical stripe sections and am working on one of the k1b sections. Each one of those is just a little bit different, so the texture changes up each time. I think that's a nifty design feature - it wasn't one that I was expecting from photos of the pattern. The boomerang shape, which is causing the tail of the shawl to curl around itself, is also pretty cool. I'm excited to see how it blocks out and how it looks when I'm wearing it!

A closeup view of the green and blue stripes in the shawl. Horizontal stripe sections alternate with vertical.

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It's time. It's finally time to spin Fleece Four-Twelve, the one that Carrie and I bought at MDSW a few years ago. I was going to wait until the start of the Tour de Fleece on the 27th, but why wait to begin such an exciting project?

I spun up a quick sample, aiming for a DK-weight three-ply yarn, and I think that's what I've come up with. With my sample yarn washed and dried, I measured 11 wraps per inch and then knit a stockinette swatch on US 6 (4mm) needles, which got me 19 stitches/4 inches before washing. And then I ripped that out so that I could try some cables. Here's a picture of the swatch just off the needles, along with some of the carded fleece...

A cabled swatch knitted from brown yarn with a chunk of carded fleece.

...and here's what it looks like after it's been washed and blocked.

A knitted swatch with cables is pinned onto a green towel.

The fleece is quite crimpy and springy, so I'm trying to spin it long-draw to maintain its bounce and light weight. I don't want this to be a heavy, dense yarn at all. After washing, the swatch is rustic but almost soft enough to wear it next to my skin. Fortunately that's not my plan for it - I want to knit a cabled cardigan to wear when I go snowboarding! I haven't picked a pattern yet, but I think I have plenty of time to think about it.

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I finished knitting and blocked the Sizzle Pop shawl - what a difference! That's a 12" ruler for scale in the before-and-after photos, and wow, look how much it grew! The shawl drapes beautifully now. It's soft and squishy and relatively lightweight for its size, and I absolutely love it.

The Sizzle Pop shawl before and after blocking, with a 12" ruler for scale. It is much larger after blocking.

I only made one small change to the pattern, and that was to knit an extra repeat - I had enough extra yarn, and I was concerned that the finished shawl would be a little on the small side. It is not, now. :)

The pattern was well-written and fun to knit! It went faster than I was expecting, except for the parts where I got distracted and made mistakes. In most cases I wasn't going to be able to just drop down and fix the error (yay, brioche?) so I had to un-knit, which takes for-freaking-ever (yay, brioche?) but was totally worth doing as I wouldn't have been able to live with the errors.

My version of Sizzle Pop used a skein of Malabrigo Sock in 120 Lotus, and a skein of Sheep's Clothing Yarn Co. Fable Fingering in Nebula Speckle. There's a little bit of each one left over, but not a lot. Not only do the yarns coordinate perfectly with each other, but they also go well with my hair - right down to the little pop of blue.

Pirate modeling the Sizzle Pop Shawl

This will definitely not be the last brioche project, or the last shawl, that I'm going to knit. It was so much fun to work on, and the results are spectacular. I have so much fingering weight yarn in my stash, my sock drawer is already overflowing, but my shawl-and-wrap shelf still has plenty of space left for more projects. The next one I'm working on is Casapinka's "Breathe and Hope" pattern, which is two-colour but not brioche. I'm making good progress on it, and will have pictures to share soon!

Closeup of the Sizzle Pop shawl, showing the brioche stitch pattern.

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