Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Skirting Around

I’ve never really knit myself a skirt before. I was browsing Google for “Skirt patterns” and discovered the pattern in called the “Bell Curve”. It looked like it would look good on any shape, including large women. It seemed simple enough, knitting in the round, so I cast on. I had just bought about 6 skeins of Grey Heather WoolEase on sale and thought this would be perfect. I considered knitting a pure wool skirt but I thought that by the time I finish it, it would be too warm to wear and I wanted something easy to wash as well, so WoolEase Wool/Acrylic seemed perfect.
Bell Curve Skirt
Knitting the waistband elastic casing was easy enough. But then I tried knitting the star stitches and almost frogged it. I tried a Size F/5 crochet hook to make the stars and it worked great. The WoolEase tends to untwist when I do Eastern Uncrossed style, and my yarn would split too much. The crochet hook kept everything together. The placement of these stars on every ¼ of the skirt is wonderful to keep me engaged after doing all the stockinette. Bell Curve Star Stitch w/ crochet hook I just can’t wait to get it done. In fact, I’m kind of putting aside my UFO plan temporarily to stay on target with this project. I’ll add it to my list when I get tired of knitting it, so I can make progress on it. It will replace my # 4 project on my schedule.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Celtic Tote and UFOs

The UFO (unfinished Object) knitting plan is being put into force. It has helped me focus on these projects that need much attention. Actually, it seems as I am forced to pick up the projects and knit, I fall in love with them all over again. To be fair, I diligently attempt to give each project some time.

My Celtic tote is coming along. I’ve finished one side and will be starting the other side soon. I really appreciated the feedback I get from the Unraveled Knit along teacher. She has been very encouraging. I’m wondering, though, if I am the only one actively knitting in the group. Nevertheless, I pursue this with a passion. It’s nice to have someone on the side lines when I need help or advice.

I’ve been sick with a cold these past few days. This is the results of a good Samaritan visit to my parents who are in their 80s, who had colds. I chanced the risk of getting sick, knowing that it was more important to see them and show I cared than getting sick myself. It was well worth the sacrifice as they were happy to see me and appreciated the chicken soup I brought. They are wonderful people and deserve the very best.

I did lot of knitting while at home sick. I was able to get a few more rows done on my candlelight scarf, branching out scarf, baby sweater, and Adult Surprise jacket.

I am re-evaluating Walter cardigan. I really don’t like the boring stockinette pattern. He also has lost some weight, and I’m not sure what I started will fit him anymore. Sooo…..I have been purusing my knitting books and magazine for a nice men’s cardigan. There really are not much to choose from but I found two pattern’s I’m thinking about. In Patons Forever Favorites: Fifty Years of Family Classics, I like the Service Cardigan and the Baltic Cardigan. I also have been tempted to start a skirt called “Bell Curve” by Kira Dulaney from I’ve been trying to swatch some Lion Brand Wool-Ease but I’m having trouble getting gauge. I’m thinking perhaps Patons Classic Wool might give me a better gauge.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Disaster Strikes!

I cannot believe how blind I am. I was working on my Green Medallion Hat and am just about to start the finishing decreases for the crown of the head and I discover a mistake.
Can you see it?

On row 3 for about 5 stitches I knit when I should have purled! Why didn’t I see it earlier?. There is no way for me to fix this without a lot of trouble. Sooooo……dumb-da-da-dumb…..I frogged it and will not remake it. Not right away anyhow.

I had just made myself a plan…..a UFO plan. This was a plan to knit on each of my UFO’s, my main ones, at least twice a week.

1 Baby Sweater
2 Market Bag
3 Celtic Tote
4 Green Hat
5 Pink booties
6 Tofusies socks
7 Branching out
8 Caliometry
9 Candlelight scarf
10 Adult Surprise
11 Walter Sweater
Sunday: 1,3,6,9
Monday: 1,4,5,10
Tuesday: 2,3,7,9
Wednesday: 1,4,6,11
Thursday: 2,3,7,9
Friday: 1,6,7,11
Saturday: 2,4,8,10

I was planning on knitting the above projects on certain days of the week, hoping to make a little progress each week to the finish line. Well, #4 is now off my list.

A New Grandbaby to Knit for

With something off my needles, my brain is wanting to start something new. The smart thing to do is wait to finish my other unfinished objects, but I have been bombarded with so many new magazines and ideas from listening to podcasts, this feat will be impossible. I guess I won’t earn the “Resisting the Dreaded Cast On” XP points this time in Knit Wars.

I have been trying to figure out something to do with a crayon variegated yarn from my stash. I had almost forgotten that this month (February) was Baby Things month in the Knit Picks Knitalong which I joined last July. What good timing for the news that I am going to be a grandmother to a new baby in August. I cast on for the Baby Sweater on Two Needles from the book Knitter’s Almanac. I didn’t like how the beautiful lace pattern was coming out with the variegated. The multiple colors hid the pattern, so I ripped it back and found a yarn, LionBrand Microspun of a solid lime color which is found in the variegated yarn.

So far it is coming out fine. The Harmony needles which are very pointy, makes it very easy to work with this yarn that is low twist and tends to split into 4 plies. I once threw a whole skein of this away because I was so frustrated with snagging and the yarn splitting. I promised myself I would never buy this yarn again. Nevertheless, it was the only yarn I could find close to sport weight that was the right color.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Knit WARS! A finished Hemlock Ring

I am so glad to have finished the Hemlock Ring Blanket. I am convinced that Feather and Fan is just not my favorite stitch. The blanket or lap blanket ended up being about 4 ft wide and will be nice for my God mother to sit with. Perhaps in a nice colored yarn this would be more interesting. The blanket took about 1 ½ skeins of my stash Red Heart Acrylic, which is about 14 oz. I am trying to work down my stash. There IS something to say about washable yarn. I always fear that if I give a gift to someone who doesn’t know or has the means to hand wash clothes, that giving something washable would be better than courting disaster as one inadvertently throws them in the wash with other clothes and pulls them out in horror because they now look like doll clothes. I would mourn the mistreated item and all the laborious hours put into creating it.

I am now working on the Celtic Tote. This is a Knit along with my local LYS. It is a cabled tote. I have not done cables in a long while so it is a slow process, one row at a time. I am thinking this may take me a while. However, I am progressing steadily, almost halfway done with one side.

As I knit along, I love to listen to knitting podcasts. One that kind of grows on you is Lime and Violet. At times they are a bit crass but very hilarious. They have announced a feature called “KnitWars”! It is based on an adventure game. Originally designed as “ChoreWars”, a way to make doing chores in your party or family to earn XP points as you do household tasks.

The creators have created “Yarn Wars with Lime & Violet”. As you knit , spin and crochet, you earn XP points for various tasks, including an FO disasters, finishing an object, or a UFO, or knitting in public and resisting that coveted yarn purchase. There are other ways to earn points which are tallied daily so you can monitor your progress with others. It also gives you gold, which doesn’t really do anything yet. However, the person can invent a system to reward yourself by spending the gold when you achieve a certain amount. I love the button you can put on your blog to show others how you are doing. My Chore Wars character

This game is in its beta stage, open to anyone, but it sounds like there’s going to be a greater roll out of it soon. Lime and Violet is encouraging everyone to sign up now to get familiar with how it works.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Instant Gratification

I think its time for me to step down from my political knitting soapbox, and think about my actual knitting rather than technique in the Eastern style. Spring is trying to show its sunny fresh side and something is happening to me. Suddenly, all I want to do is small quick projects. After finishing the Medallion Capelet, I have a need for instant gratification and satisfaction by finishing some quick projects.

I felt that my cape needed some accessories, so I used the stitch pattern from the collar to quickly make a hat to go with it. If I can manage it, I will try to make a written pattern to share it. It knit up very quickly and fit nicely. I liked it so much I started to make a green one to match my Zimmerman rib warmer.

I have an update of my Dad’s socks made with Tofutsies. I was going to frog them because the 2x2 rib was so boring, but the more I looked at them, the more I felt this would be best for him. He has had heart surgery in the past and occasionally gets swollen ankles. He also tends to get foot infections so I wanted to knit socks that would not be too tight with a little give but snug to stay on. I decided to resume them but I think I will make the ankles longer. I hope I have enough yarn. I’m almost up to the heel.

I haven’t worked on the Hemlock Blanket, but am feeling like I need to finish it and get it over with. Feather and Fan stitch is just not my cup of tea.

I was scanning Ravelry and discovered a really nice French Market Bag pattern that is felted. I thought this would be great for the Patons Classic Wool I had just ordered from Smileys Yarns. It has become my takealong knitting as it doesn’t take took much concentration.
I joined the Unraveled group in Ravelry and they are doing a Knit Along Celtic Bag tote, which is an intricately cabeled felted bag. This pattern intrigued me and gave me a challenge to make. I bought the yarn last Saturday at Unraveled in Monrovia, Lamb’s Pride Worsted in an Oatmeal color. I also took advantage of their 15% off sale on Koigu! I have always dreamed of getting some of this but it seemed so pricey. It didn’t seem as painful getting a discount, so I bought 3 skeins of Koigu in pinks, reds and purples. I haven’t yet decided what I will make with it.
Getting back to the Celtic tote, I casted on yesterday. I’m a little rusty on doing cables. Twenty years ago I made my husband a Aran vest with cables but I had forgotten a lot how to make them. I discovered a video on the Unraveled website that was very helpful in demonstrating some of the difficult stitches and had excellent techniques how to read a chart. One of those tips was to color code the different cable stitches and this has saved multitudes of frustration.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Eastern Uncrossed Knitting: Coming Out of the Closet

As with most knitters like myself, we have secretly marveled at our ingenuity of creating a knit garment, perhaps even gloating that we didn’t need a teacher to figure this out, unknowing that it was not the mainstream or Western way of knitting. As others have witnessed our amazing feats, we have been appalled and confused by comments that ”we learned to knit “wrong”’! Nevertheless, we have presevered in secret, often embarrassed to knit in public or explain why we were knitting the way we do. Only when our creations were finished did we dare to venture out to show off the beautiful examples of needlework, to the oooh’s and aaah’s of admirers, who had no idea how we created it.

Well, the time has come to “come out of the closet”. We have Annie Modesitt to thank for convincing the world that it IS possible to knit in a different way and come out with amazing knitted things. I understand she makes the argument so eloquently in her book, “Confessions of a Knitting Heretic”. I still need to get myself a copy. We need not be afraid of teaching others our style of knitting. I understand that Annie’s classes in “Combination Knitting” seem to be sold out. Is that telling us something? Wouldn’t you want to learn a new way to knit if you found that it was easier, faster, less of a strain on your hands and wrists and produced a more even fabric in stockinette? As I grow older I sure can appreciate these things and thank my lucky stars, my knitting has not given me arthritis or carpel tunnel. I have heard more horror stories of Western knitter’s who "throw" doing this.

Learning that Eastern knitting started somewhere about 200 AD in Arabia, made me realize that Western or American knitting came later. The Eastern knitters, had the technique down earlier, and have the right to claim that Western knitters learned it “wrong”. Isn’t that enlightening?

Actually, neither style is “wrong”. What does it matter when you can come out with the same result? When teaching the style, it should be labeled correctly and patterns should differentiate what style the pattern is written, so knitter’s can make adjustments in their techniques if needed.

Pictures are worth a thousands words, but a video is worth much more. This is why I thought I would show how I knit in the Eastern Uncrossed Style. I’m not much of a talker, so I tried to show you what I’m doing by doing several stitches rather the one. I knit alot faster than the demo. For instruction purposes, I wanted the viewers to understand exactly how I do it. I hope it helps. By the way, I knit Eastern Uncrossed Continental Style. I hold the yarn just like I learned when I first crocheted. To me this is a faster and smoother way of knitting that allows the tension to be more even.

Video #1 Diana’s Eastern Purling and Knitting
Video #2 Diana’s SSK: right-slanted decrease
Video #3 Diana’s K2tog: left slanted decrease
Video #4 Diana’s Eastern SSK-PSSO: double decrease left slant
Video #5 Diana’s Vertical Double decrease: center stitch on top

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Medallion Capelet done & Eastern Uncrossed and Not Combination Knitting

I finished the Nicky Epstein’s Medallion Capelet from the Winter Vougue Magazine 2007-08. Yipeee!!! I REALLY like how it turned out. It reminds me of a moth. Isn’t that ironic? Making a moth looking cape when moths are things we wool-lovers hate to see around our wool? Moths like to nibble wool.
I steam blocked the cape since it was made with Acrylic. This helped prevent the edges from rolling in. I must buy or make a closure of some kind. I wore it tonight to church in about 40-50 degree weather and am thinking I need to make one in wool or alpaca. This one in acrylic would be great for spring or summer. It has lots of air vents that the cold can penetrate easily. However, it sure looks good. I am seeing more people try to knit this on Ravelry. One person knit it in one night! Of course, she was a very petite size and this is a project that seems to go quickly and keep one’s attention.

Combination Knitting

I discovered a group on Ravelry for Combination Knitters. We have been having a very interesting discussion. Some have shared their thoughts on the “knitting bullies” who like to tell them they are knitting “wrong”. My opinion is that there is no wrong way to knit, only a multitude of different ways. It’s the finished product that counts, no matter how you got there.

I have tried to make a short video of the way I knit and purl in Eastern Uncrossed knitting. I had thought I knit just like Annie Modesitt, designer extraodinaire, but the more I look at her video, I realize that she purls through the front loop and I purl through the back. We might even wrap our yarn in a different direction.
Edit: I have since learned that there is a difference between Eastern Uncrossed and Combination knitting. My style of knitting is Eastern Uncrossed which knit and purl opposite of Western. In Combination knitting one knits or purls in Western and does Eastern in the opposite stitch (knit or purl), therefore, a "combination" of the two.

Initially, I had trouble uploading the 2-minute video to YouTube until I downloaded their YouTube downloader. It took about an hour but it finally uploaded. Now I see that it could take hours before I actually see the video on Youtube. There has got to be a better way of doing this. When I get a link I will include it here.

If this works, I’ll upload my other demo videos on the way I do different kinds of stitches: decreases….the right slanted (SSK) and the left slanted(k2tog). I know you Western knitters will say this is backwards and you are right. This is how I do it when I knit the way I do (Eastern Uncrossed ) the Continental way. I also have mini demos of double decreases…the SSK-psso dbl dec and the vertical dbl dec. These techniques may actually be the same as for Western Knitters.