Archive for the “meta-knitting” Category

After my first attempt at the Pirate Socks came out too small, I recharted the skull & crossbones section to 72 stitches, made a plan to increase and decrease around the colourwork, and began again.

In the few hours between the end of work and our first in-person knit night since last March, I hurried to get the colourwork section done so that I could just knit the plain stockinette leg of the sock while chatting and sipping scotch.

There's just one problem...

The cuff of a sock with a skull and crossbones motif.

I knit them upside-down.

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The second pair of socks in the Twisted Trilogy is (finally) done!

This one is knit over 72 stitches, because that's how the pattern and my gauge worked out. I'd like to try to figure out how to fit it into 64, so I can offer the pattern in two sizes, but I'm not seeing a way to do that neatly. Ah well.

Two bright blue socks stretched over blockers on a wood background. The socks have a twisted stitch ribbing pattern running all the way up the foot and leg.

Originally I'd planned the third pair to be bright green, but I think I'm going with purple instead. I've got the stitch pattern all charted out and it's ready to get started, though I should probably finish some other projects first.

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I had so much fun swatching the Unicorn Spit that I decided to wash and swatch one of the skeins of Fleece.

Well, really, it was mostly curiosity. The Unicorn Spit was so twisty and knitting up at a gauge much fatter than its WPI would have led me to guess, that I needed to know if the Fleece would do the same. So I gave a skein a bath, let it soak for half an hour, rolled it in a towel, snapped it open a few times, rolled it in another towel and thwapped it on the floor, and then hung it to dry.

It is SO BOUNCY. And again, despite the WPI, it's knitting up quite nicely on size 8/5mm needles.
(I'd originally swatched this last year on size 6/4mm needles at nearly 5 stitches to the inch, and now I'm thinking that was way too dense.) Apparently if I want yarn that's actually sport to DK-weight, I'm going to have to spin much, much finer.

I'm going to try a few more textured stitches before I wash and block this, but here's the swatch in progress:

A swatch of brown knitting with plain stockinette at the bottom and cables plus ribbing at the top.

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Remember the Unicorn Spit?

Six completed skeins of yarn with a bundle of unspun fibre perched on top.

I wound up one skein of it for swatching, because the Pirate Socks are still in time-out and I didn't want to disturb them. Here's where things get weird: I'm getting 10-11 wraps per inch on this yarn, so it should be a heavy DK or light worsted weight yarn. But it was a little tight to knit on size 8/5mm needles, and much more pleasant on size 9/5.5mm needles, where I'm getting four stitches to the inch, making it... heavy worsted? Aran? What even.

An in-progress knitting swatch. There is a ruler on top of the swatch with the yarn wrapped around it, showing ten wraps per inch.

The other problem is that it is TWISTY. I'm sure that I washed these skeins before I put them away, so I know the twist is supposedly set, but whooooo it's impossible to knit with as is. I had to stop every yard or so to let the work dangle and untwist the next bit of yarn. This isn't workable for a whole piece, so I'll probably end up running it through the wheel 'backwards' to untwist it a bit, and then re-soak it, and see if that helps.

"But I wanted a firm and durable and round yarn!" says past-me, the spinner who apparently overplied the heck out of this stuff. Ah well. It's still fixable.

The swatch isn't showing any bias because of all the untwisting, so at least I know that it can knit up nicely... at four stitches to the inch:

A knitted swatch of heathery green yarn with garter stitch up the sides and ribbing at the top. Eyelets in each section indicate the needle sizes that were tested: size 8 and 9.

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I've had the Buccaneer's Booty Socks pattern in my queue since, no joke, 2008. That is a long, long time to want to knit a pair of socks without actually knitting them. So...

The cuff of a handknit sock, with a skull-and-crossbones motif in white on a blue background. There are red and white stripes setting off the section with the skulls.

There's just one problem: The colourwork section is too tight to get over my ankle. And I've already knit down to well past the heel. (I swapped in a Sweet Tomato Heel for the short-row heel as written, but that's not relevant if I can't get the sock over my foot!)

I'm thinking I'll pick up stitches just below the skulls-and-crossbones, snip off the cuff that I knit, and work it again from the bottom up... with more stitches in the colourwork than before.

Hrmph.

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Bottom line up front: Because I know a number of people simply can't use Ravelry anymore, I'm now also selling my patterns on Payhip.

So, this thing with the Ravelry redesign. It sure is a mess, huh. From the early days of "Surprise! we redid the site! Don't you love it? ...wait, you don't love it?" to flat-out dismissing people's health issues, only allowing positive feedback on the forums (locking/archiving/hiding anything negative or questioning, and even blocking people from the main forums for continuing to ask questions), and alienating people who helped build the community from the very beginning.

I'm lucky in that I'm not one of the people who's had negative effects from the redesign. I found the original colour scheme and harsh drop shadows to be too much and stuck with Classic, but once they came out with the toned-down "Herdwick" theme I did switch over. I don't think it's great: many of the icons are meaningless; they use colours which don't match the rest of the theme; things don't line up; menus in the header open when the mouse passes over them (like when switching browser tabs) and stay open even when other elements of the page are clicked; it's just not good design.

In short, I'm grumpy about this. Really, really grumpy.

There are so many things they could have done better, and they just... didn't.

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Happy happy new year!

As usual, this tally is more for myself than anything else, but you may find it interesting as well. If you're coming from FB/Twitter/other social media, click through to see the full post:

INCOMING YARN: 14,129 yards
6 balls Loops & Threads Woolike to use for knitting machine practice (4068)
1 skein Yarnaceous Salta Fingering, souvenir yarn from Park City (437)
4 Cones of merino laceweight from Colourmart (9624) (ouch)

A skein of sock yarn in purples and a bit of orange, very sunsetty colours

OUTGOING YARN: 8,451 yards in 13 projects
Test Scarf in Dallas Colours, a learning experience with the knitting machine (2203)
Rainbow Socks, which could not be more awesome (400)
A pan protector, quick and easy crochet project (99)
Pinksplosion, knee-high stockinette socks and my first time trying the Fish Lips Kiss Heel (716)
A Multnomah Shawl(ette), because apparently accessorizing is a thing I do now (328)
I heard Grandma was cold, so I knit her a wrap with the bulky machine. (1344)
My first foray into patterned brioche with a Sizzle Pop, since accessorizing is... yeah. (899)
How 'bout another shawl? Breathe and Hope was fun to knit. (642)
And one more for good measure, the Which Way shawl. (688)
A scrappy slouchy hat with the Which Way leftovers (233)
The Sockhead Cowl used up a whole skein of Trekking XXL (459) and a matching Sockhead Hat used up another 70% of a skein (321)
I made a Polyphylla Cowl for Grandma, using my own handspun yak-silk yarn (so soft!) (120)

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

INCOMING FIBRE: 0 ounces
I bought nothing. NOTHING. I'm so proud of myself.

OUTGOING FIBRE: 16 ounces
A whole pound of Fleece Four-Twelve! Which is... not enough for the sweater I want to knit, so I'm still spinning this one. But I spun a whole pound of fleece - how cool is that?

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

PLANS FOR NEXT YEAR:
You know what they say about the best-laid plans... but I have some thoughts and WIPs. I'm still spinning the Fleece, and in my down time at work I'm also spinning some Finn/mohair batts that I've had for a very long time. My only knitting WIP is the second sock of the second pair in the Twisted Trilogy, and I did swatch for Puppies but I haven't actually cast on for it yet.

So, obviously, finishing those WIPs are first up, and then I have some design ideas, and I'd like to learn to use the machine better, and... and... and! There's always more on my list than I can manage to do in a year, but that's fine - it gives me options :)

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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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Northern Virginia is starting to open up again, and I guess that means I might have to leave the house... so out came the sewing machine, and I made a couple of masks for Michael and me. The fabric is leftovers from the curtains we made when we first bought the house! I used this tutorial and found it pretty easy to follow. First I made Michael's mask, then adjusted the pattern to better fit my face, and made one for myself.

Pirate models a mask sewn from a cute flowery fabric.

The mask would fit even better with a nose wire, so I went in search of pipe cleaners in my big box of art supplies. I didn't find any, but I did find this vintage knitting nancy in a bag of mixed threads, along with a small booklet on how to knit. It suggests holding the right needle as one would hold a pencil, which seems very awkward to me - I wonder how many people failed to learn from these instructions!

A vintage white cord-knitting device with six small nails on top and a bit of cord emerging from the bottom sits next to vintage "how to knit" instructions.

And... grandma has received her long-distance surprise hug! It fits her perfectly (I mean, it's a blanket/wrap, of course it does, but still--)

Pirate's grandma models her new teal and brown wrap.

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Before last week's vacation, I decided that I wanted to make a new scarf on the machine (since there was no way I was going to get new mittens finished in time) using Loops & Threads "Woolike" yarn from Michaels that I bought as practice yarn for the machine. It's a light fingering weight, mostly acrylic yarn with a soft feel to it, and it's quite inexpensive - $2.99 for 678 yards, but with the ubiquitous 40% off coupons, it comes out to $1.80 a ball.

First, I spent some time using Excel as graph paper (tedious, but sometimes I have a lot of down time at work) charting out the design for the border and main body of the scarf. This is what I came up with, though it got tweaked a little before I started - partly to adjust the stitch count for the width of scarf I wanted, and partly because it's more convenient to have even numbers of solid-coloured rows to avoid breaking the contrast colour yarn.

A screen capture of a fair isle knitting chart, done in Excel

Then, I had to figure out how to get this chart into Designaknit, which isn't exactly the most intuitive or user-friendly program. With that accomplished, I then figured out how to load the pattern into the machine, and began to knit.

It wasn't long before things went sideways. I didn't quite get the contrast yarn into the carriage properly, and dropped a whole bunch of stitches as a result. After some time trying to rescue the piece, I decided that it would be easier to just start over... so I did.

The end of the scarf, with solid blue lines separating a small snowflake border from the main body snowflake pattern.

The second attempt went a lot better. Not that I didn't make mistakes! The major one was that I forgot to keep an eye on my yarn supply as it fed up through the mast, and at one point a big chunk of yarn barf got hung up in the tensioner and I produced one super-tight row. I successfully unraveled it and then didn't get the machine set properly, so my next row was the wrong one in the pattern... which I didn't realize for another ten rows.

It takes 2.5 minutes to knit a 28 row pattern repeat across 150 needles. It takes an hour to unravel ten rows of colourwork.

Anyway, that was the worst of it, and I made the rest of the scarf with little further problem. I brought it on vacation with me, optimistically thinking that the seaming wouldn't take the whole week... but it did, and I sewed the last bit of it up on the morning that we left for home. For the seaming, I used a small crochet hook to line up the motifs on each side, and then made an attempt at doing mattress stitch.

Seaming the long side of the scarf

As a test piece goes, I'm quite happy with this scarf. I've worn it twice now, and it's incredibly squishy, soft, and comfortable - and warm! I have no idea how well the yarn will wear or how quickly it will get fuzzy and pulled, but since it took a few evenings to make and under $6 in cost, I don't mind if it does. My seaming skills could certainly use some improvement, and I already know how I would change the design and making-up for the next time... because there will definitely be a next time!

A long scarf with traditional snowflake motifs in navy blue and gray colours.

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