Category Archives: Project – Knitting

RIPPLE!

As folk here knew, I’m one of the 57 contributors to the Ripple group-knit yarn bomb project, sponsored by the town’s art entities – the Arlington Commission on Arts and Culture, the Arlington Cultural Council, and Arlington Public Art.

Artist in Chief Adria Arch and Project Leader Cecily Miller did a fantastic job herding us cats (distracted as we all were by balls of yarn).  At the project’s reception on Saturday we learned that a tiny whisper on Facebook netted them 70 volunteers, 57 of whom stuck with the project and worked with the palette and overall direction they established, to create individual pieces to clothe the trees in the bike path grove that Adria and Cecily picked out.  The original plan was to garb about 6 or 7 trees.  I believe the final count was something like 14 were outfitted.

And clothing the trees wasn’t easy, either. With constraints against harming them or affixing the pieces using tacks or staples, Adria and Cecily worked out an ingenious suspension system that relied on Velcro bands around the tree trunks, and used plastic cable ties to hang the knitted and crocheted pieces in place.  The installation is to be temporary – up for just a few weeks – so there are no concerns about girdling or constricting the trees.

Even with the suspension system worked out, there were more challenges.  The grove is located on a steeply sloped bank in between the Minuteman Bike Path and the town’s Spy Pond athletic field.  The grade there is steeper than 45-degrees, making moving from tree to tree almost an act of mountaineering.  Adria and Cecily engaged a local tree company to help.  The arborists used ladders and climbing tackle to get 20 feet up on the trunks, to hang the artwork.

The result?  Magical.  In a dark area with dense canopy, colors bloom!

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Amusingly enough, after these pieces were all installed, someone (as yet unknown) came by and added adorable mushrooms – as if the art has spontaneously reproduced:

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Which pieces are mine?
These two.  I’ll leave you the fun of spotting them among all of the others.

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All in all, a ton of fun.  Thanks to the organizers, the sponsors, and to my fellow crocheters and knitters.  Also thanks to dear family friend Jean Clemmer, who would send holiday presents to the kids using yard-sale yarn as dual purpose “packing peanuts” and as a gift to me.  Over the years I’ve used it to make Fishie Hats for my daughters, nieces and nephews; baby blankets for friends and family; and donated lots of it to Seniors’ day activities programs, and elementary school crafts closets.  Some of the last of it went into these two pieces – the green, pale yellow, and lighter orange I used along with the group-issued blaze orange, magenta, pale turquoise and white.

Photo credits for all but the last two shots go to Alexandra Salazar, who unlike me, knows which end of the camera is which.

EARTH TO STRING, COME IN STRING

Ok, I know it’s been a while.  Where have I been?

Working on several projects, two of them in major Stealth Mode.

Stealth Project #1 is a baby blanket.  That much I can say.  I can also say that the recipients are family, and they have specifically requested cotton and pink.  I’ve done something original, an improvised pattern, and it’s done.  But I won’t post pix here because family does visit this page and I want the finished object to be at least a bit of a surprise.

Stealth Project #2 is for my Stealth Apprentice.  She’s starting up an Etsy business, hand-dyeing silk embroidery thread using researched historical dye recipes.  She’s busy perfecting her products, and I’m her Beta-Tester-in-Chief.  I won’t show the sampler where her products are being play-tested against standard DMC cotton floss, but eventually we will break Stealth Mode and post details and links.

Project #3 is a volunteer effort. I’m one of many people in the Arlington Knitting Brigade, a town Council for the Arts project that is working to do a yarn-bombing installation on the public bike path that bisects the town, for display in September.  The group provided acrylic yarn in orange, light turquoise, white, and fuscia, with permission to eke out that lot with stash colors, in order to make a piece that’s 2×5 feet – knit, crocheted, in macramé, weaving, whatever.  I’m woefully behind, but getting there. As you can see I’ve chosen a rather chaotic mix of crochet and knitting. Younger Daughter says that the thing has a look that reminds her of the classic kids’ game Candy Land:

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I am going to have both aggressive blocking and a TON of ends to finish!

For the record, my  piece goes at the very top of one of the trees, far from eyes that can see the questionable bits.

Project #4 is yet another pair of socks, the latest in my constant stream of briefcase projects.  I carry a pair of socks on the needles with me just about everywhere I go, working on it in stolen moments while waiting for appointments, getting the car inspected, waiting for a movie to start, or standing on lines at post offices or ticket counters.

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This pair is in Plymouth Neon Now, worked toe-up with a short rowed heel, on US 00 (1.75mm) needles.  It’s 76 stitches around (19 stitches on each of four needles), with an improvised texture pattern on the cuff.  The feet are totally plain – I find that is the most comfortable inside my shoes.  I started this pair in mid July, and finished last week while waiting at the optometrist.  Needless to say, I immediately cast on for the next pair.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

And its the cold, snowy part of the Boston seasonal experience.  Which is not improving my outlook much.  But there are bright spots.  We do what we can.

Here’s a free offering (also available via my Embroidery Patterns tab, above).  This motto just cries out to be a sampler, the irony of using an art that in and of itself requires intensive perseverance to accomplish is just too sweet.  Click on the chart image to get the full JPG, formatted for 8.5 x 11 inch paper. (Finished stitching sample courtesy of long-time friend Gillian, who was the first to post a finished piece picture.  Her’s is on 14-count Aida, finished post-wash size of stitched area is about 7″ x 9″.)

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And here’s the finish from Edith Howe-Byrne on even weave, showing her variant treatment of the concept, using other counted stitches and beads (she’s leaving in the gridwork so she can use this piece as a reference for additional projects):

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The alphabets used are (more or less) contemporary with the women’s suffrage movement – found on Ramzi’s Patternmaker Charts site, among his collection of vintage Sajou and Alexandre booklets.  The particular one I used for all three alphabets is here. The border is adapted from one appearing in a 1915 German book of cross stitch alphabets and motifs, in the collection of the Antique Pattern Library.

We all do what we can, and I encourage anyone with heartfelt opinions to use their time and skill set in service, as they see fit.  Even if you don’t agree with me, filling the airwaves with positive messages rather than caustic imagery can’t hurt.

If anyone stitches this up and wants me to showcase their effort, please let me know.  I’ll be happy to add pix of your work to the gallery here.

On my own  end, I have been productive as well.

First finished (but not first started) – a quick shrug.  Possibly even for me.

Fuzzyshrug

This is knit from the generous bounty resettled upon me by the Nancys, for which I continue to be grateful.  The multicolor yarn is older Noro Nadeshiko, a blend with a hefty dose of angora, along with silk and wool.  It is soft and supple, and although I am generally not a fan of desert colors – is superbly hued, with just enough rose, sage, cream, and grey to be perfect.  The accent edge is done is another of their gift yarns – two balls of a merino wool variegated single, worsted weight.  I held it double for extra oomph.  One thing to note about the Nadeshiko though – it sheds.  A lot.  And the Office Dogs where I work like to sniff it (it probably smells like a bunny).

The pattern is Jennifer Miller’s Shawl Collar Vest – a Ravelry freebie.  It is a no-seam, quick knit, written for bulky weight yarn.  The thing fairly knit itself.  Four days from cast-on to wear-ready.  My only criticism is that the XL size is really more of a 12/14.  I can wear it, but it’s very tight, and tends to emphasize attributes with which I am already more than proportionally blessed.  My answer to this problem will be to unravel the green finish rounds, and add about 2 inches of stripey, then re-knit the green.

The nifty pin is an official heirloom of my house.  Long ago and far away, SCA friend Sir Aelfwine (now of blessed memory) made it for me as a cloak pin.  Obviously I still treasure it and wear it when I can.

On the needles is also yet another pair of Susie Rogers’ Reading Mitts, another free pattern available from Ravelry.  I’ve done four pair of these, but never for me.  I rectify that oversight now.

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Obviously, the first one is done.  Now for the second.

The yarn is yet another denizen of the Great Nancy Box – a worsted weight handspun alpaca – chocolate brown with flecks of white and pale grey, from Sallie’s Fen Alpacas.  The photo doesn’t do the yarn justice.  It’s butter on the needles, and gloriously warm.  The only mod I make to the original pattern is using a provisional cast-on, then knitting the cast-on edge to the body on the last pre-welt row (to eliminate seaming).

My typing fingers will be toasty when #2 is done.

TOO BUSY TO BLOG

As ever, things have been very hectic here at String Central.  Holidays, work obligations, family – you know the standard round of excuses.  But that doesn’t mean that progress is not being made.

In no particular order, I present a subset of the accomplishments since the last post:

The Red Licorice pullover – finished.  Amended slightly to meet the recipient’s specifications.  Pix on this one are belated, since I gave it to the wearer who scuttled off with it before took photos of my own.  I’ll go back and update this post when the pix come in, but I’ve held back publishing this long enough.

Six Pussyhats for the upcoming marches.

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The now standard run of ten types of holiday cookies:

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If you must know, clockwise from the top, they are coconut macaroons dipped in dark chocolate; chocolate chips; chocolate crinkles (aka Earthquakes); peanut butter, stamped with suns; hazelnut spritz with chocolate ganache filling (aka Oysters); raspberry jam filled vanilla wafers; Mexican wedding cakes; lemon cut-outs; bourbon/cocoa balls; and iced spice spritz cookies.  In the center is homemade fudge, with and without hazelnuts.  I also did two panfortes.  Recipes for any/all available on request

And of course there were latkes (this year done in goose fat):

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And of course over the three-holiday-week there were the donor goose; some heavenly fish quenelles (think gossamer gefilte fish and you would not be far wrong); a fantastic cassoulet made with duck confit we put up back in the summer; leek and potato soup; a home-made paté/terrine type loaf; our own sourdough bread; and an amazing spread of cheeses.  Most of the heavy lifting cooking was done by The Resident Male.

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We’re still eating the cheeses – there was so much that was (and still is) SO good.  Thanks again to Cheese Gifters, Kim and Mike; and a shout-out to the Cheese Makers, Jonathan and Nina at Bobolink Dairy. If you love well-crafted, delicious cheese and have not tried theirs, you are missing out.

Along the way, I also started a couple more projects.  First – curtains for the library.  I’ve been threatening to do it for years, and have the linen and trim on hand, the trim being one of the embroidered things I treated myself to in India:

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I’ve done all the calculations, pre-washed the linen, and ironed out the first panel of four.  I’ve also obtained and pre-shrunk the lining. Next is to calculate placement of the trim and stitch it on to the first panel, prior to doing final assembly and hemming.  I intend to use rings to hang the panels, from black iron or iron-look rods.  Those will either be clip- or pin-type, so tabs are not needed.  Parking these mysterious secret sauce numbers here for future reference (90, 10, 3).

And having finished the sweater and hats, I embark on another knitting project – Sandra’s Shawl, pattern by Sandra Oakeshott.  This one features lots and lots of nupps – little multi-stitch bobbles.  I am not a fan of making them, so instead of the nupps, I’m using beads.  I’m using some really intense variegated green Zauberball Lace yarn (pix shamelessly borrowed from unrelated retail website):

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And the beads are silver tone.  As you can see, I’m already well into this one, past the unadorned center and out into the infinity rows where the beaded fun happens:

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I can say that the pattern is well-crafted and easy to follow.  I suggest putting markers at the beginning and end of the pattern repeat, to segregate out the edges in which the design is a bit perturbed by the increases required for shawl shaping.  Some may wish to use markers between each pattern repeat, but I found it wasn’t necessary for me – the thing is easy to proof visually as one knits. And I most heartily recommend the use of beads rather than the fiddly nupps.  Apologies to the designer, of course for using a non-traditional/alternative interpretation of her excellent pattern.

LONG HIATUS, BUT NOT INACTIVE

A frantic interlude of work related deadlines later, I return to this page.

And the recipient of the Crusher pullover, modeling it with standard ironic teenage attitude during Thanksgiving break:

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Eye roll aside, she loves it.  Really.  Especially the three-quarter sleeves and front pocket.  She’ll wear it with a collared denim or chambray shirt underneath, so the wide neckline and shorter sleeves (for rolled up cuffs) is spot on what she wanted.  So armed, Younger Daughter returns now to college, full of turkey, and cocooned in wool.

On the knitting front, I am well into a Licorice Whip pullover possibly for me or Elder Daughter.  I’m still trying to fit The Great Stash Largesse into my yarn boxes, so to make room, I’m doing up some quick knits from the bulkiest lots in them.  This one is to use up some Araucania Nature Cotton, an Aran-weight thick-and-thin, kettle dyed cotton I’ve had on hand for at least six years.  The skeins are not uniform, not even within dye lot (probably why I was able to snag it on special sale), so I am working from two of them at the same time, alternating to meld the colors and avoid any visible horizon likes (like the deliberate one in Crusher, above, where I used to strong contrast yarns on purpose). 

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The color is sort of washed out in the photo above.  Red Licorice is really a very bright candy-apple red, veering to orange.  The cotton is cushy and soft, but prone to shedding.  It will most certainly be a gentle hand-wash garment when it is done. 

In other news, two more pairs of briefcase-sox accomplished using Great Stash Largesse yarn.  Standard figure-8 toe/short row heel, 76 stitches around, plain feet/interesting ankle.  One brown pair already with its recipient, the other pair is mine, mine, mine:

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Yummy!

I also completed two baby sweaters, for Salazar Clan grandchildren born last month.  One is with its target baby, the other is here in my basket, awaiting word of where to send it to rendezvous with the target great-nephew. Both are the same Lopez Island pullover and use same long stashed yarn in two different colors.  Red is a 6 month size, and Blue is a 9-12 month size:.

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In other knitting news, I will be needing a small project to carry with me on a trip the week after next. The bulky red pullover being too big for in-flight knitting.  For that one, I’ve settled on Sandra’s Shawl, using a shaded deep to medium green laceweight from an earlier shipment of Largesse.  I’ll knit up the larger size.  However, I’m not a big fan of working nupps (the little bobbles that accent the edgings).  Instead I will use silver beads.  Cast on for this will be sometime this week, so I will be well enough along for relaxed knitting on the plane.  

And finally, progress on the long stalled Second Carolingian Modelbook project.  As I feared, in the format I had chosen, parallel to the original book, production – even in electronic format – will be prohibitive.  I am now redrafting for release as a series of shorter works.  The first of these will be a very short pilot folio – probably only five or six plates worth.  By contrast, the book as  I originally conceived it was 75 plates.  If that works out well, I will continue with similar scheduled releases.

WITHOUT A NET

I’ve finished the no-pattern/no-gauge pullover I started the last week of September, at the beach:

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It’s a short but not cropped front-pocket/baggy-fit raglan pullover, knit in rustic New England style two ply Aran weight wool.  The only seaming was grafting the top of the front pocket to the body.  The thing is knit top down.  Had I decided to add a pocket when I got to that point, I’d have worked it in, and knit the bottom edge into the body, and obviated any need to sew at all.

Younger Daughter has first dibs on the thing.  It should fit her nicely, and if not – I’m sure I’ll find another family member or friend to wear it.

Here’s a working-method summary.  I hesitate to call it a fully developed pattern because I haven’t calculated sizes, made exact measurements, or estimated exact quantities.

Wesley Crusher Unisex Pullover – A Method Description

Fits size 44 chest
Gauge: approx 18 stitches = 4 inches (10 cm) in stockinette
Recommended needle size: US #10 (6mm) circular for body, or size to get gauge; US #8 (5mm) circular for ribbing.  You may wish to start the neck and finish the cuffs using DPNs of the same size.

If working the optional hand-warming pocket, either an additional US #10 (6mm) circ, or a pair of US #10 (6mm) straight needles, and a piece of contrasting color string, preferably a cotton in fingering weight or thinner, that will be used to baste the row to which the pocket is grafted, for better visibility in keeping that seam straight..

Materials:  One skein of Bartlett Yarns 2-Ply Aran weight rustic wool (about 210 yards/192 meters) in shoulder color.  3.5 skeins of the same yarn in a contrasting color (about 735 yards/672 meters) for the body.

Other tools:  5 stitch markers, two large stitch holders or spare circular needles (any size) to hold the sleeve stitches while the body is being completed.  Yarn sewing needle to darn in ends.

Neckline:

Using smaller needle, cast on 100 stitches, join in the round and work in stockinette for approximately 2 inches (a bit over 5cm).  Switch to larger size needle.

Raglan Increases:

Place marker, knit 35 stitches (front); place marker, knit 15 stitches (sleeve top); place marker, knit 35 stitches (back); place marker, knit 15 stitches (other sleeve top). Knit one round.  The four markers indicate the center point of the raglan increases.  There will be one marker left over.  We’ll use it later.

Increase round #1:  *K1, YO, knit until one stitch remains before the next marker, YO, K1, move marker*.  Repeat this three more times.

Increase rounds #2 and #3:  Knit.

Continue working increase rounds 1-3 until you have enough depth on the shoulders so that the under arm area ends about under the arm (don’t worry if there isn’t enough depth for the front and back raglan “seams” to meet.  We’ll be adding stitches under the arm, and working them into gussets.  I did my raglan increase set 18 times (making 18 holes in a rows down my raglan “seam,” and ending up with 71 stitches between my front markers, and 51 stitches across each sleeve).  Be sure to finish after round 3.

Separate out the sleeves:

Knit 36 stitches.  Place the fifth marker.  Continue knitting across the front to the first raglan marker.  Set it aside. Take a stitch holder or spare circular needle (or a piece of string threaded onto a yarn needle) and slide the 51 stitches of the sleeve onto it.  We’ll revisit them later.  Set aside the next raglan marker.

Returning to your working needle and replace the marker. Holding the sleeve stitches out of the way, cast on 16 stitches, preferably with a half-hitch cast-on to minimize bulk.  Place marker. Continue in stockinette, knitting to the next marker.  Set it aside.

Set aside the stitches for the second sleeve in the same way, sliding them onto a storage device, replacing the marker, casting on 16 stitches, and placing the remaining marker after the cast-on stitches.

You should now have a marker indicating the center front, plus four markers – two at either side, isolating the cast-on stitches.  Continue in stockinette to the center front marker. We are going to use that marker at the center front as the “begin round” point from here on.

Work the body:

Knit one round in stockinette.

Gusset Decrease Round #1. Knit to the side marker, move marker, SSK.  Knit until two stitches before the other side marker, K2 tog. move marker.  Knit across the back of the piece until you reach the other side marker.  Move it, SSK, knit until two stitches before the next marker, K2tog, move marker, knit to the center front marker.

Gusset Decrease Rounds #2 and #3:  Knit.

Repeat Gussett Decrease Rounds until only two stitches remain between them.  On the next row, knit to the marker, take it off, knit one stitch, put it back; knit one stitch and set the second side marker aside.  Repeat this for the back.  You should now have a tube with about 176 stitches in total – 88 for the front and 88 for the back.

Continue knitting the body tube until it is as long as you want, minus 2 inches (about 5 cm) for the ribbing.

Optional hand warming pocket:

You will need a second ball of your body yarn at this point, or you will need to work from both ends of your current skein.  I’ll call this secondary source the “pocket yarn.”

Using  your original body yarn, knit all the way around your piece until you reach the marker for the second side.  Move it and knit 19. 25 stitches should remain before the center marker.  Holding your original yarn and your pocket yarn together, knit to the marker, then knit 25 stitches after the marker.  Drop the pocket yarn and continue around with your original yarn (don’t worry if you’ve mixed them up – it makes no difference).  Make sure that the pocket yarn emerges from the PUBLIC side (the knit side) of the work after you drop it, before you continue around with the original yarn.  Stop when you get to the start of the doubled stitches.

Take your second #10 needle (straight, circ, whatever).  Working carefully with your original needle, knit one stitch of each doubled pair and slide its brother onto your second needle.  When you are done you should have 50 stitches on the pocket needle, and the same original 88 for the front (plus 88 for the back) on your original body needle.

Knit one round on the body, just to make sure everything is snug and safe.

At this point you can either finish the body or continue on to the pocket.  Your choice.  If you opt to finish the body first, skip below to Ribbing, then return to this point.

For the pocket – you will be knitting flat, back and forth.  This means that to achieve stockinette, you will be knitting on the right side of the work, but purling on the journey back.

Turn the sweater upside down. We will be working from the bottom back to the shoulders for the pocket.

Pocket Row #1:  Knit 5.  Place marker.  Knit 40.  Place marker.  Knit 5.

Pocket Row #2: Knit 5, move marker.  Purl 40, move marker.  Knit 5.

Pocket Row #3: Knit 5. Move marker.  SSK.  Knit to 2 stitches before the next marker.  K2tog. K5.

Pocket Row #4:  Knit 5.  Move marker.  Purl to next marker.  Move marker. K5.

Pocket Row #5:  K5.  Move marker.  Knit to next marker.  Move marker. K5

Pocket Row #6:  Knit 5.  Move marker.  Purl to next marker.  Move marker. K5.

Pocket Row #7:  K5.  Move marker.  Knit to next marker.  Move marker. K5

Pocket Row #8:  Knit 5.  Move marker.  Purl to next marker.  Move marker. K5.

Repeat Pocket Rows #4 through 8 until 38 stitches remain on the pocket needles, or the pocket is deep enough.  If you want it deeper, work remaining rows without decreasing.  When done, DO NOT bind off the stitches.  Instead, break the yarn leaving about 2.5 feet for seaming.

Keeping the pocket stitches on the needle, smooth it out against the front of the sweater.  Note the row where the pocket should be grafted.  On the row ABOVE that, take your piece of marking string, thread it onto your yarn sewing needle and run it through that row for the width of the pocket.  This will make identifying the row for seaming easier.  If you are confident in being able to graft a straight seam, you can skip this step.

Using your extra long tail end left over from the pocket, graft the pocket stitches to the row immediately below the one you have carefully marked with basting.  Invisible horizontal seaming works nicely for this, uniting the live stitches off the working needle with the body stitches.

Ribbing:

Return to the original needle holding all of your body stitches.  Take your smaller ribbing needle and working from the original needle onto the new smaller needle, start from the center front marker, and work K1, P2,* K2, P2* ending with K1 for the stitch immediately before the marker.  Discard the larger needle and using the smaller one, continue in this K2P2 ribbing until you’ve worked 2 inches (about 5 cm) or the ribbing is long enough for you.  Bind off in pattern.

Sleeves:

Take your #10 needle and transfer the stitches for your sleeve to it.  Take your body yarn and starting  at the left point of the stitches you cast on underneath the arm, place marker, pick up 8 stitches place the center sleeve marker (suggest this be a different color), pick up another 8 stitches to finish filling in the gap, place the third marker, and knit around the sleeve.  Knit around until you have returned to the center sleeve marker.  NOTE:  As you continue the sleeve from this point you may find that it gets uncomfortable to use a larger diameter circular, even if you “loop out” the excess cable as you go.  Feel free to switch to DPNs or a two-circ method at any time during completion of the sleeve.

Sleeve Gusset Decrease Row #1: Knit to 2 stitches before the next marker, K2tog, move marker. Knit around the sleeve until you reach the other sleeve gusset maker.  Move it. SSK, knit to the center sleeve marker.

Sleeve Gusset Decrease Row #2 and #3: Knit

Repeat Sleeve Gusset Decrease Rows #1 to 3 until only two stitches remain between them (one on either side of the centermost marker).  At this point you should have 53 stitches.  You can remove the two sleeve gusset markers and continue working until you sleeve is long enough (minus 2 inches for ribbing).  On the final row before starting the sleeve ribbing, start the row with a K2 tog, so that you have 52 stitches.  Switch to the smaller needle(s) and starting at the center sleeve marker, K1, P2, (K2, P2)*, ending with a K1.  Work this K2P2 ribbing for about 2 inches (5 cm).  Bind off in pattern.

Darn in your ends, and you’re done.

ESCAPE KNITTING

So here we are at the beach again, seizing a weekend unoccupied by renters, to enjoy our place in North Truro.  It’s not as warm as it can be in full summer, but it’s plenty comfortable enough for lounging on the beach, wandering the shoreline, and nosing around Provincetown.

And what’s lounging on the beach without a knitting project?  It can be difficult to knit from a complex pattern on the beach – hard copy pages get damp, and tend to blow around.  It’s often too bright to knit from designs stored on the iPad, the screen washes out in the sun.  So I tend to look for projects that are mindless, memorized, or free-form.

So here’s the latest, photographed in full sun on our deck.

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I’m working entirely without a pattern, using a rustic style Aran weight wool.  I’ve got several skeins of well-aged Bartlett two-ply Maine wool, that are taking up all to much room in my stash boxes I’d prefer to put to other use.

I have a couple of heathered garnet red; a couple that are ragg-mix of one ply of the garnet, and one of a navy; and a couple of a medium blue which is too light to use in combo with the others.  None are enough for an entire adult sweater but it’s time they earn their keep.  Also the ragg style blue/red mix would overpower most texture work.  So what to do?

A unisex, simple raglan, worked top down was the obvious choice.  No pattern, no gauge.  I started by casting on 100 stitches, and working a rolled stockinette collar on a US #8 (5mm) needle.  I changed to a US #10 (6mm) needle.  I’ve now got about 172 stitches around – roughly a 44-45-inch chest circumference.  The fit is slouchy and sweatshirt-like, and the high lanolin content rustic yarn (though a bit itchier than Merino, and hand-wash) guarantees a hard wear sweater ideal for cool weather hiking, and winter sports.  It’s a bit small for me, but between spawn, and a huge army of nieces and nephews, plus lots of outdoorsy friends, it’s bound to fit someone.

So, what do I call this no-pattern piece?  The Wesley Crusher, of course.  Named for the ubiquitous shoulder-colorblock casual sweaters and uniform blouses worn by him and the rest of the STNG crew.

Minor discovery during the course of this one.  Many circular needles in larger sizes have a noticeable “bump” where the needle part slims down to the cable’s thin diameter.  It can be annoying to shuffle stitches up that steep incline as you knit in the round.  But you can minimize the problem if you are using an interchangeable needle set.  I’ve outfitted one of the circs with a size #10 on one end, and a #8 on the other.  Since stitch size and gauge is dictated by the needle you are using to form the stitches (as opposed to the one being knit from), the smaller size needle sits on the “feed” side of the round, and its slightly smaller diameter presents less of an impediment when shuffling the stitches around into “knit me” position.  Give it a try!

And in other knitting news, I have finished the leaf shawl/scarf:

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It looks like work/home will crawl back to a more manageable schedule, so I hope to be posting more regularly again in the weeks to come.  Next up is a tutorial on a simple method to finish out a sampler into a backed hanging.

BELATED FINISH

A very hectic month, between work and other obligations.  I’m glad to say we’ve gotten Younger Daughter off and installed at college, purple hair and all:

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And I finished her vintage shrug:

shrug-2   shrug-3

An interesting project, this was a very quick knit, but it did take a bit of attention in finishing.  The instructions for seaming in the original are pretty rudimentary.  Here’s what I did, in case you want ot make one of these for your own:

  1. Leave stitches live instead of binding off the final row
  2. After blocking, graft live stitches to the cast on edge, taking care to match the drop stitch ribs.
  3. Next, sew up the two sleeves, using grafting along their finished edges.  Again, match the ribs.
  4. You now have the final seam left. Carefully match the center back seam to the center of the shoulder strip, and pin.
  5. Use mattress stitch to join the two strips together.

In effect, what you end up with is a T-shaped seam in the back, with the horizontal running between the lower edge of the armholes, and a vertical seam at the “spine” of the lower strip forming the center back.  Both are hard to see in my photo of the back because (to brag) I took great care with my grafting and seaming.

Quite pleased with this one.  Younger Daughter is into swing dancing, and will wear it not with t-shirts as shown, but with her 1940s/1950s-style dance dresses.

CATCHING UP

It’s been a while since I posted last.  Hectic doesn’t begin to describe it.  Kitchen finish, work-related deadlines, college graduations, and last – a blissful vacation week on Cape Cod in our new beachside condo, full of kayaking, golf, good food, and the active pursuit of doing absolutely nothing.  All in all too many things to accomplish, with too little time to document any of it.

But through it all, a modicum of sanity-preserving handwork has happened: three pairs of hand-knit socks (my default no-thinking project of choice); plus some others.

First, thanks to the generosity of Certain Enablers who shall remain unnamed – a vintage shrug.  I began working on this just before the vacation break.  On US #9 (5.5mm) needles, this one was a quick knit.  At left is the photo from the pattern.  At right is my piece.

coats140_b350 Shrug-2

Those projections on the side are the sleeves.  Obviously, I haven’t seamed the thing up yet.  A bit of pretzel-type manipulation is slated to happen that will result in a T-shaped seam in the back, and the graceful drape of the simple drop-stitch rib pattern curving in the front.  Or so we hope.  I have the piece left on the needle because I haven’t decided yet on whether or not I will be doing some sort of live-stitch seam.  It’s hot and sticky right now – too hot to sit with this tub of alpaca boucle on my lap.  I’ll go back and finish this piece off when it cools off a bit.  I’ll have to rush though, so Target Recipient can take the completed garment off to university with her next month.

Second is also a time-linked project.  The first of two, in fact.  I am edging off the two inspirational samplers I did for the girls, backing them and readying them for simple rod type hanging.  Here’s the first.  I’m hand’ hemming the backing/edging cloth to the stitching ground.  The backing cloth is in one piece, strategically folded to be a self frame.  I’ll baste a length of chain threaded on some thin woven tape in the bottom fold to provide weight, and leave small gaps in the two top corners for insertion of the hanging rod:

Trifles-almostdone

The second one will be close behind – the other sampler I did this fall/winter past.  Also finished out for hanging from a rod.  More on that after I’ve laid it out.  In fact, if folk are interested, I’ll use the second one to illustrate the folding and stitching logic required to do this.

And finally, just for fun with no deadline attached (so you know what I’ll be working on tomorrow evening), an Autumn Lace shawl out of some unknown Noro fingering weight yarn, augmented by some Noro Taiyo Sock.  The unknown Noro was also from the same Enabling Anonymous Donor, and was perfect for a project I’d been planning on working up for a long time:

Leaves-01

Here you see the first course of leaves (worked bottom half, then top half).  This is not a particularly difficult pattern, but it is an exacting one, with a pattern that has to be closely followed, and that is not within my capability to memorize.  More on this one as it develops.

TOPSY TURVY

Things here at String Central are about to be totally up-ended.  We’ve now lived in the New House for about 10 years, which makes it not so new any more.  In truth it hasn’t been new for quite a while, having been built in 1911 or so.

When we bought it we looked around and fell in love with the place. Some parts more than others:  the large, open layout, the abundance of surviving original woodwork and detail, the high coffered ceilings in the living and dining rooms, having a tiny library(!) plus sufficient space for all of the bedrooms, office areas, and workrooms a family with a wide variety of solitary pursuit interests needs.

On the problem areas, we’ve gone through a long list of improvements over the years, most having to do with systems: heat, insulation, wiring; or structure. New plumbing, a full-house rewire to get rid of (barely) functioning knob-and-tube, secure/weather-tight basement windows, a new heating system with a separate upstairs heat zone, insulation, a new roof, and a new driveway are just a few.  Other than rehabbing the poorly functional upstairs bath, we haven’t done much in the way of aesthetics or livability, beyond addressing basic needs.

But no longer.

After 10 years we are about to begin a major kitchen rehab, and FINALLY be rid of the sagging mint Formica countertops, the droopy cabinets, the dismally scratched (and hideously pink) floor tile, plastic sheet backsplashes; and the outdated, poor functionality of our layout.  I can hardly wait!

Here’s the official set of Before Pictures:

KitBefore-2 KitBefore-1

In the shots above you can see the partial wall between the prep and dinette areas, that breaks up the space without adding value. They are remnants of what had originally been a full wall, separating a back day-room for maid’s work from the kitchen proper.  This is now our eat-in area and will remain so, but the partial wall is going.

KitBefore-3

In this one you can see the patched- in wasted space above the cabinets in between them and the equally useless dropped soffits above the cabinets themselves.  That overhead space will be put to far better use.

KitRehab-6

And here are the mint green counters and plastic backsplash of the inconveniently far from everything Other Counter.  It’s the clutter-magnet area where we stash recycling, and although absent in this shot, where pantry overflow usually sits.  This space will also no longer sit idle.

KitRehab-8

Although we do have an pantry, it is of very little use, with narrow shelves too shallow to accommodate most cans, boxes, or jars.  The front part is a hinged armature that is very difficult to move if you want to access similarly shallow dead shelf space behind. We are in sore need of effective pantry space.  The new design will address this, too.

KitRehab-9

The rusted, creaky round-abouts (lazy susans) are an invitation for stuff to fall behind and jam the mechanism, with center poles that preclude larger items.  The gadget garage isn’t bad, but tends to be another clutter-magnet area, and uses up more useful space than it provides in return.  Technology for corner cabinetry has vastly improved since the ‘80s.  I’m looking forward to the new solution.

On overall design, the current kitchen/dinette area, although it looks large, is not wide enough to add an island or peninsula without serious bottleneck or access issues, so we are not going to radically change the footprint.  However, the current arrangement of appliances and countertops isn’t very efficient.  We end up doing 90% of our prep work in the two foot space between the sink and the stove.  The stove itself  does not have a vent to the outside, which doesn’t add to ease of keeping the room clean. And the kitchen is dark, with too many lights that don’t manage to provide illumination of the actual work areas.

So it’s time for all of it to go.

In the mean time, we’ve moved out of the kitchen, so the crew can come in tomorrow to start demolition.  We’ve crammed everything into the living and dining rooms, and will live without stove, oven or microwave, dishwasher or useful kitchen sink for the time being:

Kit-rehab-4  KitRehab-5

We plan to address all of these issues.  Stay tuned to see how!

 

For my knitting and stitching pals – don’t worry.  This isn’t going to turn into a home-improvement blog.  I continue to plug away on the wavy infinity scarf/cowl, plus progress on a pair of socks.  I always have a pair going, as “briefcase knitting” to do while waiting for appointments, on line, or in other away-from-home-base moments of idleness.

wavescarf-3

 

It’s slow going.  As I’ve said before, I spend as much time untangling as I do knitting.  And I still need to pay attention to the pattern.  I haven’t memorized the thing yet.  So it’s difficult to do when I’m watching TV in the evenings – my favorite time to do handwork.  Especially so because we’re re-watching our set of Lone Wolf and Cub TV series DVDs, which are in Japanese with subtitles, and on Netflix, the Norwegian series, Occupied, similarly subtitled from Norwegian.

So there you have it.  Chaos is about to descend.  But at least I can knit my way through it, while nibbling sandwiches in the dining room.