Sunday, March 31, 2013


I'm shuffling through some ideas for some larger projects, and thought it would be good to have a little something on the needles. Alway Be Knitting. And when I need a standby, backup project, I think of socks. After looking through a ton of patterns, I decided on Donna Druchunas' Spiegel socks from the first Fall 2012 issue of Knitty.

These socks use the Bavarian knitting tradition of traveling stitches to make intricate patterns that really pop. I'm using some gray yarn that I got in Boulder last summer at Gypsy Wools. Its color is less solid than I thought, but not so variegated that the stitch patterns will get lost. The design you see runs down the outside of the cuff. This pair will have mirror-image left and right foot designs.

Druchunas uses a chart system that I've never seen before, but I'm picking it up rather quickly. I transposed the charts from image files to PDFs and imported them to Knit Companion, which is making it very easy to keep my place. So far I've completed the first chart. Things are about to get complicated, following multiple charts at once. Probably not a good idea to tackle this next section while watching subtitled movies.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Bandana Cowl

I told you chunky needles, chunky yarn and non-blue-green were in my future. I need to hire a better model, though.

Immediately after finishing the stole, I cast on for a chunk-style Bandana Cowl using some thick handspun Polworth from my friend Stephanie in a colorway she called Black Cherry. Not a palette I usually work with, but I welcomed the change. It put me in mind of Shasta Black Cherry soda, my childhood drink of choice for picnics at Mt. Rainier. Steph spins some cool stuff -- check out her Etsy shop and get some of your own.

I knew right away that I was going to have to make some modifications to the original pattern. I started on 6mm (US size 10)' but quickly switched to 8mm (US size 11) to get a bit more drape. I scaled all the numbers for cast on and other stitch directions down by a quarter to get close to the final dimensions. I'll post details on the Ravelry page soon. All in all, a fun project. I plan to wash it and set it out to dry tonight.

Even though I'm modeling this, it's not for me. I'll think of someone, I'm sure. I've already got someone in mind for the stole. But, being a process knitter, I don't always have to have a plan for every finished project, do I? There's so much joy in just the doing.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Stint O' The Wave

It's over! I finished the Print O' The Wave Stole yesterday. I soaked it and put it on the blocking wires yesterday afternoon, and went in to take a look this morning, after leaving it under the ceiling fan all night. There it was, in all its lovely laciness. I'm so happy!

Despite the mid-project disaster, this was a really fun pattern. In fact, it only has two charts to follow and neither of them is overly complicated as long as your are willing to embrace the K3tog. Mostly, it's a marathon. And like, most garments with a knitted on border, when you have the main part finished you're really only half way there.

For me, once the external instructions get incorporated into internal rules of knitting grammar (the K3tog stitches always look like this, every other odd-numbered row has a yarnover 3 stitches from the beginning of the row, etc.) the whole process seems to flow. As I described to a friend yesterday, it's like anything you learn by rote; what seemed so foreign at first almost becomes second nature. Although I kept the sheet with the edging pattern on it handy for the past few weeks, I rarely consulted it. However, it can be hard to get back into the flow state when you get interrrupted. For instance, I don't recommend watching intense TV shows while knitting this pattern. I'm talking to you, Breaking Bad. I'm convinced watching this show dragged out the timeline on this stole significantly.

As I've mentioned before, the hard thing for me about knitting lace is waiting for the payoff, which doesn't happen until the blocking. Until then, it all looks like a wrinkly mess. And I had trouble with the blocking. I really wanted to make it fit the dimensions in the pattern -- 80" x 25". But when I tried to stretch it to these dimensions, my blocking wires started bending and pins started popping out of place. I'm lucky I didn't break any of the stitches. The pattern calls for blocking it "aggressively," but I think I was bordering on abusive. I backed down to 72" x 22", which, considering I had knit on size 3 needles instead of the recommended size 4, seems about right.

I didn't make this with anyone in mind, so I'm unsure of its fate. I mostly just wanted to get some more practice with lace and to burn through some lace yarn that I'd gotten at a swap. So, mission accomplished. I can recommend this to anyone wanting to attempt a lace project involving grafting and knitted-on edging.

My next project will not be aqua, blue-green or turquoise, will not take two months to knit, and will be done on gigantic needles.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Murder, She Knit

I’ve been watching a lot of streaming stuff this week while trying to plow through the knitted-on edging of the lace stole. Some of it good, some of it not so much. But I did run across a neat little documentary that I found fascinating, and which included a bit of knitting.

photo (2)Of Dolls & Murder covers the contributions of Frances Glessner Lee to the field of forensic medicine and the development of crime investigation. Lee, who was from a wealthy family connected to International Harvester, was not allowed to seek higher education. However, through her brother and and one of his college classmates, she became interested in the science of crime investigation and endowed the department of legal medicine at Harvard. But her unique contribution to the field was her creation of 18 incredibly detailed miniature dioramas of crime scenes that are known as the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death.

They’re amazing. At first glance, they look like regular little dollhouses. But then you see the bodies, and the blood splatters, and the signs of a struggle, and the open windows. Supposedly, only a select few know the “answers” to the mysteries outlined. And though they were created in the middle of last century, they’re still used to train forensic investigators today. Lee created these herself, by hand, even knitting the victims’ stockings on what must have been very fine-gauge pins. Despite their grim nature, they are quite beautiful.

On the personal knitting front, I continue to plug away at the Print O’ The Wave Stole. I’ve completed three sides of the knitted-on edging, and “only” have one more long one to go. I really want to be able to stretch this thing out so I can see the pattern better. For right now, it just looks lumpy. One of the nerve-wracking things about lace knitting is having to wait so long for the payoff. But the end is in sight. I suppose it’s time to put some serious thought into what I might tackle next.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Needles on the Edge of Forever

I've literally turned the corner on this stole. The hole is fixed, the pieces re-grafted, the yarnover setup edge finished, and I've completed one short edge, plus a corner of the knitted-on edging.

I love how knitted-on edging works. But I couldn't figure out how to start. I'd forgotten that one has to work clockwise around the work, in the opposite direction of usual in-the-round knitting, in order for the edging and the body to be joined on the backside of the work. When I got started with the edging, I just stared and stared, wondering why everything seemed backwards. Then it just came to me in a flash. Thank goodness. I've completed 11 of the 73 repeats of the 16-row edging. Although that sounds daunting, I'm actually quite pleased that I've gotten as far as I have. But still a long, long way to go.

The college is on spring break this week, so I'm hoping I'll have lots of time to make more progress. But I'm also playing bachelor for a few days while Jeff is out of town, so I have a few more responsibilities around the house than I normally do. I've managed to maintain a certain level of civility and haven't devolved into a caveman yet. Smooth sailing, so far. Just ask Pona.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Wave Function

Just a quick post to show that I've been able to get my problems with the Print O' The Wave Stole fixed. Jeff and I stretched it out for a thorough inspection. No holes this time!

Yesterday, I finished knitting the two sides and this morning I completed the grafting. I hit a snag where I came up with an uneven number of stitches during the grafting process, but ungrafted about a dozen or so stitches and found the problem. I purposely grafted very loosely, and then snugged up the grafting across the piece stitch by stitch to match the tension of the two sides. You can still tell where the grafting is since it's the only 3 rows of stockinette in a field of lace, but it's as smooth a transition as I can manage.

First I need to weave in some ends, and then pick up stitches around the edge. I did some math, and I'll have to pick up 7 stitches in every 12-row pattern repeat, plus two more somewhere along each edge. And I can look forward to unzipping those pink crochet chains soon.