February 2006 Archives

This page is an archive of entries from February 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

To see all archives, visit the Archive Index.

January 2006 is the previous archive.

March 2006 is the next archive.

Decisions Must Be Made!

Thank you everyone for your lovely comments about the Subway Sweater. WIth the Knitting Olympics finished, it's time to turn my yarnish attentions to that other big knitting event: Sockapaloooza. I have my pal, I have my yarn, now it's time to decide on a pattern.

You might remember that I'm using Dani's wonderful handdyed yarn. A quick email to Dani confirmed that the Dusk colorway is variegated, not self-striping. Because of the bright colors, I think that most any stitch pattern would get completely lost in the variegations.

That reality eliminated Embossed Leaves and Retro Rib. I wasn't too disappointed by that: it seems like loads of knitters are doing EL these days.

I decided to turn to my old favorite, Priscilla Gibson Roberts's short-row heel sock, from IK. I'll use her pattern for the numbers, and include a different stitch pattern on the cuff. Because the pattern is completely familiar to me, I'm shaking things up a bit by using the tubular cast-on for the first time. What you see here is the third attempt.

CuffStart.jpg

With that out of the way, it's time to get out of town for a few days. I'll return this weekend, and remember, there will be a pattern to post!

The Moment You've Been Waiting For

Ta-Daaaaaaaah:

SubwaySweater.jpg

Yes, I'm mostly happy. Actually, that's an understatement. I'm quite thrilled. The fit could be improved slightly (just slightly) in two areas: the waist shaping and the waist hem. I think I'll move the waist increases about two inches higher in the final version of the pattern. I'm not sure how to address that little flair at the waist. Maybe I need to move the waist decreases higher as well.

For the first time, however, the armhole fit is absolutely perfect. No complaints there! It's fitted just right and it doesn't pucker a bit. Although, from reading Silvia yesterday, I wonder if the sweater is too fitted for this year's "look."

A closeup of those bell sleeves (slightly cropped, so that they don't snag on anything):

SleeveCloseUp.jpg

As you know, the sweater is my own design, and there's a pattern. I won't, however, give you the pattern today. The pattern is ready to go, but I want it to sit for a few days so that I can return to it with fresh eyes for one last proofread and I want to see if a few days of wear will offer other insights into other possible improvements.

Looks like I'm all dressed for the Team Boston par-tay today. Hope to see lots of my teammates there!

KIP Alert!

To all my fellow Bostonian KIPers, we have a new venue on Broad Street.

FlatBlack.jpg

Some of you might know Flatblack from its Lower Mills location in Dorchester. That's where I discovered it a couple of years ago. The café is near my seamstress, and I love to drop in for a quick espresso after dropping off some trousers to be hemmed. The coffee is good, and the staff is pleasantly caffeinated without being frantic.

Lower Mills is, however, nowhere near my non-car orbit, so I'm happy to have their new outlet open at the corner of Milk and Broad, in the Architects' Building.

InsideFlatBlack.jpg

Look What I Did!

Every good pattern needs a schematic.

SoonASchematic.jpg

My Adobe Illustrator skills put the "rust" in rusty. Okay, that's not accurate. Rusty implies that they once were good, whereas my abilities with Illustrator have never gone beyond the most basic of tasks.

This took me about an hour, an hour without swearing or computer throwing. Not bad, in my book. Next up: adding text.

Dry Time

The Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran Tweed feels loftier and squishier than typical wool yarn. I wonder if somehow the spin or fiber composition of this yarn holds less water than 100-percent wool worsted-weight yarn.

I'm accustomed to sweater pieces taking at least three days to dry on my blocking board. Even my tiny felted hat, which I put over a warm radiator, took two days to dry fully.

I'm almost sure that these pieces will dry in less time. As I was squeezing water out of the pieces after their bath, I could feel that the water came out very easily. While my sweaters usually feel almost saturated when I lay them out, the Subway Sweater felt slightly more than damp.

This might mean that I can stretch the seaming over a few days, rather than one long eye-straining session. I love seaming (no really, I do) but I cannot do it in long stretches without wishing I were somewhere (or someone) else.

Live from the Blocking Board

Here's an action shot of the Subway Sweater blocking:

OnTheBoard.jpg

Exciting, isn't it? I'm surprised that I was able to finish the knitting in about 10 days. Maybe it was the gauge (3.75sts/in), or maybe you really do knit faster with Addi Turbos.

Or, it could have been that I had two weekends with very little planned except knitting, and one of those weekends was three days. [Note to self: get life.] Each of these ten days I knit a lot but for five of them I was able to knit a whole lot. So, it begs the question: Did I enjoy the process?

Yes, and no. I did not enjoy the self-imposed pressure of finishing a sweater in 16 days. I did, however, enjoy the entire process, of which the knitting was just a tiny part. I rethought my pattern, resized it, and knit a sample sweater. It had been on my mind for a while, and I had the yarn. The Knitting Olympics provided the motivation. My challenge was to see if I could do it (and, since no one has actually knit any of the other sizes, I have no idea if I achieved my goal).

And then there was the whole idea of participating-in-something-big. Yeah, that was pretty cool.

Besides the pattern I had another (purely selfish) goal to create a custom sweater pattern for me. [Me! Me! ME! Bwah-ha-ha!] Now, I can modify the pattern to include any details I see in other designs, without the final fit being a mystery.

What Have We Here?

Assuming that I snuck in a sleeve last week, while no one was looking, do you know what this is?

AllFour.jpg

Yeah, it's the four pieces of the Subway Sweater: back, front, and two sleeves.

Remaining are blocking and seaming.

That's all for now. We'll see you next on the blocking board!

Just Pictures

This weekend has been quite productive for my Olympic bid. I'm feeling very confident:

First, we have a sleeve:

FinishedSleeve.jpg

Then, we have an in-progress front:

Front.jpg

I feel good about my ability to finish by next Sunday.

Must dash! Happy Presidents' Day everyone!

Excuse Me...

While I hunker down and knit and catch up with my reading. I'm this close to sleeve victory!

Blogging While Hungry

Don't do it.

You how you're not supposed to go grocery shopping when you're hungry? Well, the same must be true about blogging, except there's no way that I could come home with three times the amount of food I usually require from reading a few blogs.

First, we have Ms. Minestrone Soup. Just the title of her blog makes me hungry. Oh, how I love you, minestrone soup! Good thing, you know, that I can't look at her blog in "This site has been blocked"-land because otherwise I might be out on the streets of the North End, looking for a big bowl. Whew! Dodged a bullet there.

Then there's Alison, showing us all pictures of bakery deliveries. Mmm, mmm. What goes better with minestrone soup than some fresh baked bread? Nothing, I tell you, nothing.

How am I going to distract myself from all of this yummy goodness? With my knitting, of course. Look:

SleeveDay1.jpg

I am endeavoring to make my stay on Sleeve Island as short as possible. Here's my progress when I wasn't slurping down soup or munching on bread rolls.

We Interrupt the Knitting Olympics

...to bring you a brief Sockapaloooza update.

Mad props to Lisa for giving me my very first sock book!

SockBook.jpg

It's pretty basic, and all the patterns have short-row heels. I'm sure that I can use it for reference even if I don't follow a pattern stitch-for-stitch.

Highly Problematic

Well, the IT geniuses in my place of work have managed to block Blogger, Typepad, Bloglines, Haloscan, echonyc, and almost all other blogging websites. Essentially, if you don't have your own domain, I can't read you. Even so, some of you with your own domains (Gleek!) get blocked as well. Curses! When a site gets blocked one receives a message "If you think that this site has been blocked in error please email blah, blah, blah." It's almost as if they are taunting me, because of course the sites haven't been blocked in error, and they know it.

Sigh! Perhaps this is a temporary problem. For now, it means that my blog reading is confined to mornings and evenings (as it probably should have been all along, but...).

These days it will be a choice between reading and commenting, or knitting. So please understand: I'm lurking.

To distract you, a picture of Boston Public Gardens after the storm:

wintergarden.jpg

Olympic Update--Day 5

This being Valentine's Day and all, I had hoped to create a post about both knitting and chocolate. I'm having a hard time coming with something, so I'll ditch the idea.

Hey, remember the Knitting Olympics? I, like all of my fellow Knathletes, am in the midst of a competition. This past weekend was a great one for Team Boston. Or, at least this member of Team Boston. Sunday's storm made for perfect knitting weather. I even braved the elements on Sunday afternoon to get to a friend's house, where there was (of course) more knitting.

Progress was good:

Saturday morning:

Back1.jpg

Saturday Afternoon:

Back2.jpg
(yes, those are my socks)

Sunday Morning:

Back3.jpg
(again with my--newly washed--socks)

The back of my sweater is complete, and I have cast on for one sleeve. Hopes for a snow day yesterday were dashed by Sunday evening, so it's back to my usual amount of knitting time. How will this affect future progress? That remains to be seen.

Trés Amusant

It's in French, but you need only to look at the pictures Thanks Bulle for the link.

Whooo! Go Olympians! How's everyone doing? Me? Pretty good. Must get back to my needles....

Perfect!

The weather conditions are definitely on the side of Team Boston

[from the National Weather Service]

...BLIZZARD WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 1 AM TO 7 PM EST SUNDAY...

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN TAUNTON HAS ISSUED A BLIZZARD
WARNING...WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 1 AM TO 7 PM EST SUNDAY. THE
BLIZZARD WATCH IS NO LONGER IN EFFECT.

SNOW WILL BREAK OUT ACROSS NORTHERN CONNECTICUT...THE SOUTH COAST
AND THE ISLANDS BY MIDNIGHT TONIGHT...THEN SPREAD NORTH TOWARD
PROVIDENCE...WORCESTER...BOSTON AND CAPE ANN THROUGH 3 AM SUNDAY.

SNOW WILL CONTINUE DURING THE DAY SUNDAY AND COME DOWN HEAVY AT
TIMES. DURING THE HEIGHT OF THE STORM SUNDAY AFTERNOON...BLIZZARD
CONDITIONS ARE POSSIBLE WITH SNOWFALL RATES NEAR 3 INCHES PER HOUR.
NORTHEAST WINDS GUSTING AS HIGH AS 60 MPH MAY PRODUCE WHITE OUT
CONDITIONS WITH NEAR ZERO VISIBILITY.

TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATIONS BY SUNDAY NIGHT WILL RANGE FROM 10 TO 18
INCHES...WITH LESSER AMOUNTS OF 6 TO 10 INCHES ON NANTUCKET WHERE A
MIX WITH RAIN IS POSSIBLE FOR A FEW HOURS SUNDAY AFTERNOON. ISOLATED
SNOW TOTALS OF 2 FEET ARE POSSIBLE IN THE AREA FROM PROVIDENCE TO
BOSTON AND SOUTHEAST TO THE UPPER CAPE.

THIS IS A DANGEROUS AND LIFE THREATENING SITUATION. PLAN TO HAVE
TRAVEL COMPLETED BY TONIGHT. TRAVEL DURING THE HEIGHT OF THE STORM ON
SUNDAY WILL BE SERIOUSLY IMPACTED BY THE COMBINATION OF STRONG
WINDS...POOR VISIBILITY AND SNOW COVERED ROADS.

A BLIZZARD WARNING IS ISSUED WHEN SUSTAINED WINDS OR FREQUENT GUSTS
OVER 35 MPH ARE EXPECTED WITH CONSIDERABLE FALLING AND/OR BLOWING AND
DRIFTING SNOW. VISIBILITIES WILL BECOME POOR WITH WHITEOUT CONDITIONS
AT TIMES. THOSE VENTURING OUTDOORS MAY BECOME LOST OR
DISORIENTED...SO PERSONS IN THE WARNING AREA ARE ADVISED TO STAY
INDOORS.

STAY TUNED TO NOAA WEATHER RADIO OR YOUR FAVORITE MEDIA OUTLET FOR
THE LATEST INFORMATION ON THIS DEVELOPING WEATHER SITUATION.

Whooo! Perfect knitting weather!

I Want This Hat

Dear Marc Jacobs,

While I usually think that most designer fashion is anything but, I take exception to this hat:

MarcJacobs.jpg
(picture from the New York Times)

In spite of my generally conservative fashion sense, I find myself drawn to this hat from your Fall 2006 collection. Yes, I do understand that wearing this hat outside might risk public ridicule ("Hey! Doughnut head!") but still, I remain intrigued. Do you think that it would look good on a far-from-anorexic woman?

If so, please email the pattern to me at your earliest convenience. Thank you very much.

Sincerely,

Subway Knitter

I Have No Standards

I have been reading quite a few posts lately about knitting and blogging philosophies. I won't link to any here, because I'm certain that the ones I read were a few of many--no need to single them out. This topic seems to circle around blogland periodically, and apparently we are back into an introspective phase: what you will (or will not) knit, and why.

I never think about the big picture of my knitting. Am I alone in this? Because speaking for myself, I'm not sure that there's anything to mull over. A few of these posts have made me think that because I lack a very deep insight into my knitting, I have very low knitting standards. Maybe that's true. Guess what? I don't care!

I was going to continue the discussion and tell you why I knit what I do, but then I realized that I don't really know or care what drives my knitting. You probably don't care either. And that's perfectly fine! You worry about your knitting, and I'll worry about mine.

Speaking of my knitting:

This:

JoSharp.jpg

Will become something like this:

vneck-thumb.JPG

As of today, 14:00 EST, (19:00 GMT) we'll be off!! Go Olympians! This is going to be fun.

How NOT to Design a Sweater

Witness:

TooManyPapers.jpg

Piles and piles of paper + lots of scribbling + lists of numbers=total chaos.

I should have known that this would happen. When I resized and redesigned the Spring Breeze Top, I made little effort to keep my notes and calculations neat and tidy. Pattern writing for the original design happened in one looooong block over Presidents' Day Weekend 2005. I saved all my notes from that time, and boy, they're a dream compared to what I have now. The 2005 notes are actually helpful, whereas what I created this week became immediately inscrutable as soon as I put it down.

What would I do differently next time? As I did with the original design, I would start with a dimensioned sketch, rather than lists of desired measurements. I tried to do the opposite this time, and it did not work well. Now that I have an idea of where the math-heavy portions of the pattern (armhole and sleeve-cap shaping) lie, and what's contained in those calculations, it will be easier for me to work from a schematic. Instead of creating the schematic from the lists and a few numbers, I can do the opposite.

No matter, the results of this jumble are recorded in the pattern. I made notes where I think problems might exist (I'm mightily concerned about some of the decreases on the smaller sizes) and I can change from there.

Eureka!

Update: at 21:59 EST, on Tuesday 7 February 2006 (again with the 24-hour time, just to keep it official looking) I clicked "save". The draft of the resized Spring Breeze Top pattern is ready, with two days left for proofreading. Olympics here I come!

Making Up LOTS of Stuff

We are in all out Knitting Olympic Training mode chez Subway Knitter. With the opening ceremonies happening on Friday, I need to have the draft pattern in cast-on shape by the time I arrive at Doyles (apparently our local version of the Olympic Village). Team Boston is counting on me! This means reading, drawing pictures, and doing some (very simple, nothing that you didn't learn in freshman geometry) math.

Determining the waist shaping and cast-on stitches were easy, but the sleeve-cap shaping was hanging over my head like a... Well I don't know what it was like--but it felt like a daunting task, and it was (almost).

MOREstuff.jpg

Jenna Wilson, oh Knitting Tech Goddess, I bow down before you! Your Knitty sleeve primer series is stellar. The latest article distinguished between the armhole height and the armhole circumference in sweater design. There is a difference, and now I know how to take the armhole height and sleeve width numbers and make a sleeve cap to fit them.

If you don't know what I'm blathering about, go read the article. It's overwhelming at first but quite well written and organized. Take a deep breath and plunge in. Your knitting will be glad that you did.

Before I could use any of Jenna's handy-dandy techniques, I had to create some armhole heights and shoulder widths. Essentially, I took mine, and scaled up or down from there. Is this really how the designers do it?

Make it in Massachusetts

Who else remembers this slogan from the early 1980s? We have a wastebasket in my office with one of those blue-and-white thumbs-up bumper stickers on its side. I guess that a good sense of irony has always been helpful in our line of work....

I was reminded of that slogan last week, as I did a little SockapalOOOza planning. Turns out that production of my Sock Pal's socks will be completely Massachusetts based. Completely Boston based, to be more specific. The knitting will be done in Boston, and the yarn will have been dyed in Boston too!

I knew that Knitsmith Dani, whose Sushine Yarns is turning into a very successful business, is offering a special discount to all Sockapaloooza knitters. On a whim, I decided to stop by her shop.

Whoa, what's that? Perfect colorway ahead. It's called Dusk.

SunshineYarns.jpg

In my "Make it in Massachusetts" googling, I came across this site of town slogans. If you're a Bay Stater, or if you've ever lived in Massachusetts, have a look. It gave me a little chuckle, although I will mention that Woonsocket is in RHODE ISLAND. [Duh!]

Fulling!

Thank you to everyone who offered a sock-book suggestion on Thursday. The books sound intriguing and are exactly the type which I was seeking, but the sensible side of me agrees with Claudia: among my VKs and IKs there must be quite a few sock patterns. An internet hunt turned up a few more (thanks Stephanie for linking to this last week). Agnes (thinking very much the same way as Claudia) sent me the link to these free sock patterns. Again, thank you!

Meanwhile, because the knitting plate has to be very, very, very clean before Friday we still have to talk about my Bucket o' Chic. I spent some quality time in my basement having a little fulling jamboree.

Okay, I cheated. Based on past experience with Cascade 220 I threw the hat in the washer with jeans, a canvas bag which needed washing, and some detergent. I set the washer on "hot" and used the long cycle. Then, I ran back upstairs to begin dinner preparations. I expected that the hat would need at least two cycles to full properly, so I didn't feel a need to hover over the machine as it agitated.

Fifteen minutes later I returned, just as the wash cycle was spinning to a close. I stopped the machine, and dug into the drum to find my hat. Whoa! That hat was fulled to a crisp. Did I overdo it?

Fulled wool can be poked and prodded, stretched and shaped into the size that you want. In fact, I think that the reshaping part finalizes the hat's look, and it's an important part of the fulling process.

Immediately from the wash the hat was too snug. After some pulling and reshaping, the fit was perfect. I laid it out on my special hat-blocking apparatus.

MoreHat.jpg

Before:

MoreHat.jpg

After:
MoreHat.jpg

Yay! I love this hat. Will there be more? You bet!!

The details:

Pattern: Bucket o' Chic (fulled version), pattern link is above. This is a GREAT pattern, and I highly recommend it as a simple knit with a highly functional result. I know that this would make a great gift.

Yarn: Cascade 220 in colorway 8012, just about a skein.

Needles: US11s, 16-inch circulars and double points.

What I changed: nothing! I knit the pattern as written. Imagine that!

What would I do differently? Not much. If I were feeling creative, I would embroider a line of yarn onto the hat before felting. And maybe, just maybe, I would like it to be just a touch bigger. We'll see about that after the next windy day.

Making Up Stuff

So here's the truth that I learned about pattern designing:

All the sizing is total hooey!

Here I am trying to offer a modified version of my Spring Breeze Top (link in my sidebar) in different sizes. I know that the pattern's fit could be improved along the lines of Grumperina's Theory of Negative Ease. Subtracting a few inches here and there is easy. It's everything else that gives me the willies.

Crunching.jpg

In order to make this somewhat easy for myself I'm making two assumptions, and both are hogwash. The first assumption is that you all share my proportions. You have broad shoulders. Your waist is well defined. Your arms and torso are slightly longer than average. No one would be calling you "petite". The second assumption is that everyone's body is different in the same way. That is, if the difference between my waist and bust circumferences is X inches, then the difference between everyone's waist and bust circumferences is X inches. Again: total junk.

What's a designer to do? First, offer a good schematic of my pattern. This way, a knitter knows exactly what the finished dimensions of the sweater should be, and where he or she needs to alter the pattern to suit the wearer's measurements. Second, offer a rather wide range of sizes. The more sizes given, the easier it is for a knitter to change things based on numbers supplied with the pattern.

What's a knitter to do? Accept that a pattern is simply a guide, a bunch of numbers put together by guessing at a wearer's proportions. Knitting a pattern as it is written will very often result in a less-than-ideal fit. As you know, I can't remember a time when I haven't altered something about a sweater's design during the knitting process. Now I know why.

February

Here we are: day three of the month of birthdays (mine) and chocolate (um, Valentine's Day--and if you don't have a Valentine to buy you chocolate, then go and be your own).

It would seem that some people do not like February. I guess I understand. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, February is usually bleak and chilly. Definitely not weather at it's best. Perhaps Ms. Nicola can give us a different perspective from Down Under.

Still there are reasons to be cheerful, knitting-wise. Sockapaloooza will soon have us pulling out our DPNs (or magic loops,or two circulars) and the Knitting Olympics will be challenging us to knit our best.

I agree with Cassie:

febavenge_2.jpg

Sockapaloooza

Eeek! At 19:30 (24-hour time, just to keep it all official looking) EST last night I opened my email and received my Sock Pal. I'm so excited!!! I have a question for all of you (and I cannot believe that I am about to ask this):

If you were to recommend one sock collection to someone who knits the occasional pair but who will most likely never, ever become a passionate sock knitter (um, yeah, we're talking about me) what would that title be? I prefer short row heels to flaps, and I'm not scared of a complex design.

Claudia told me about PGR's Simple Socks: Plain and Fancy. That's one. Got any more?

Slippers

I'm really cleaning off the knitting plate. Remember my slippers? I knit one on the train to New York, and the other was mostly finished while on the train back to Boston.

Knowing that I needed a block of quiet time, as well as some instruction, I put off kitchenering the toes. Kitchenering is something that I have done once before, somewhat successfully. I knew that I did not have the technique mastered.

Knitters to the rescue! First, it was Laurie. When I saw her last month, she gave me a sheet of step-by-step kitchenering instructions which she found to be helpful. It was! In spite of this, however, my front stitches were getting twisted. Something wasn't right.

Enter Lisa. Despite the chaotic environment of Knitsmiths, Lisa was able to take me through a few stitches and get me started correctly. Once she talked me through a few rounds of "knit off, purl on; purl off, knit on", things became a lot easier. Thanks Lisa! I owe you.

Kitchener.jpg

I find that I have a difficult time learning finishing techniques from books. This is very mysterious, because I always have one of those "DOH!" moments as soon as I realize what I need to do. That was absolutely the case here.

ToesToesToes.jpg

Yay! Don't my toes look great? I'm so proud.

And they're so warm and comfy:

The Details:

Pattern: I modified Priscilla Gibson-Roberts's Shortrow Sock Pattern from Interweave. I used her numbers and instructions for heel and toe shaping, but I greatly shortened the cuff and used a picot hem. Since my subscription to IK has now expired, I better be very, very careful with my pattern copy.

Yarn: Bernat Berella, 100-percent acrylic, worsted weight. This yarn is from Knitting Grandma and may or may not be currently available. Yardage, colorway: who knows? I used most of a skein, but the label doesn't list yardage.

Needles: US8s, DPNs.

Time to complete: Not long. As I wrote above, I knit the majority of this pair on a round-trip Boston/New York train (Acela) journey.

As most of you know socks (and slippers) are the perfect travel knitting. With Sockapaloooza here (today, and I can't wait!), maybe I should plan a trip :-).


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