It’s doldrums here at String Central. Younger Daughter is back to university. Others are back to work. I fill my time with nosing around for grant and proposal contract assignments, and my various projects.
First, my sanity project – the doodled decoration on the pre-finished napkins I bought on sale from Wayfair, using the cotton four-ply embroidery floss I picked up when we visited Sajou in Paris (stitching with three plies). I can show a modicum of progress. I’m just picking out random designs from my books and doing them rather informally, with a different design along a single edge of each of eight napkins. The first of my mismatched set is complete. The second in process.
The linen is soft and once washed, a bit mushy. That makes count work a bit more troublesome than it otherwise would be, especially on so coarse a ground. But it’s still rather quick work. The first napkin with the interlace took three evenings (about half shown). The in process photo shows only one evening’s worth of work.
On to knitting. I finished a pair of socks, packed up and sent to the recipient before I remembered to take a photo. They were my “briefcase project” – the thing I always have with me to work on while I wait on telephone hold, on line at the post office, or for appointments. Since I ALWAYS have a pair on the needles, the next pair is already cast on and sitting it its bag, itself waiting for me to be waiting. This pair however is special. Younger Daughter picked out this yarn with the proviso that I knit something for myself with it. I comply.
And my project of long suffering guilt. I promised these Octopus Mittens to my niece late last winter. It was inadvertently destroyed, then was re-started with new yarn, and is now sitting next to my project chair, chiding me that it is being neglected. I plead laziness, lack of inspiration, and frustration with stranding using two strands of DK, knit at sock yarn gauge for warmth.
I MUST finish these. I promised.
How do you flog yourself back into working on a sidelined project? All suggestions gratefully accepted.
Oh, And if you know of anyone looking for a project manager/writer/editor specializing in high tech grants and proposals – send them my way, please.
I continue to produce samples for the Chanterelle pattern. This one is in a narrow self-striper – the kind of sock yarn that when knit up, makes socks with stripes of two or at most three rounds.
And for reference, what the ball looked like before it was consumed:
This scarf is another oddity. It has the same gauge and width as all of the others. The Steinback Aktiv Effekt yarn is marked as being 421 meters (460 yards) – comparable to the others.
I was only able to knit up nine full trumpet sections, plus the beginning and end section. I did have a bit of yarn left over, but only enough for about a third of a trumpet. So based on what I’ve seen so far, here’s the scarf length to yardage result. As you can see, it doesn’t quite make sense.
Number of Full Trumpet Segments and Length
Narrow stripes with one faux Fair Isle inclusion
|Schoeller + Stahl
Fortissima Colori Socka Color
Combo of narrow red and white stripes with one medium length blue/white stripe
Opal 4 fach
Half medium, half narrow stripes. One faux Fair Isle inclusion
|Gradient with two independently shading plies||459 yards
|Gradient with two independently shading plies||459 yards
The saving grace of the pattern is that the trumpet segment and the final section are identical until one is half-way through the trumpet sequence. At that point the knitter can look at the remaining yarn and decide on whether or not to risk finishing out the last trumpet and then going on to the final segment (which would require about 36 yards remaining), or punting and just finishing off the segment at hand according to the instructions for the final section.
Well, this pattern has wound my curiosity up around itself. The basic design of the Chanterelle scarf is quite simple, but it can look quite different depending on the yarn chosen. I have written it for any 100g ball of fingering/sock weight yarn, and finding out what the various yarns end up looking like when knit up – that’s turning out to be tons of fun.
So let’s start.
So far I’ve used two different Schoppel Zauberball Crazy colors: the autumn/purples mix of the original, plus a lilac/cream/navy mix. The pix below the scarves are photos of the SAME color numbers of Zauberball as the ones I knit from. There is considerable variation between balls of the stuff, but you can get an idea of how the original yarn looked, none the less.
The ends look different because for some reason although the balls were marked with identical yardage, the one on the left was significantly shorter, and yielded only ten trumpet sections, while the shades-of-purple one yielded 11. Go figure… In any case, it’s nice that regardless of how many full sections are knit, the ends still complement the piece.
Here’s the third try. This one is a stash-aged Opal yarn, whose label with its color number has long since gone the way of all things.
You can see that the color runs are pretty wide, and unlike the happy chaos of Zauberball Crazy, the repeat is very predictable. Variation happens because the yardage required to produce one trumpet isn’t in synch with that of the yarn’s printed repeat, so the colors wander up and down the trumpet motifs, and the faux Fair Isle spot manifests differently each time it pops up, shaped mostly by the width of the section where it appears.
I’m now trying for Chanterelle #4. This one is from another stash-aged yarn – another ball that was a gift from the generous Nancys. It’s Schoeller and Stahl’s Fortisimma Socka Color, # 1776 – a red, white, and blue mix. This one looks to have small to medium width stripes.
We’ll see how these stripes manifest. I’ve obviously not gotten this out of my system yet, so I’m sure I’ll be doing some more Chanterelles. Luckily they are a quick and mindless knit, and can be done while watching subtitled movies and shows on TV.
If you want to do up a Chanterelle and would like me to post it, you can find the free pattern under the Scarves section of the Knitting Patterns tab at the top of this page. I’d be grateful for pix of the skein and pix of the finished product, as done above. That will help others decide whether or not this design would work for their beautiful but problematic yarns, too.
And here’s another finish!
This was a super quick project, barely a week from cast-on to final block. Even though I still have a couple of ends to tuck in, I consider it done.
Younger Daughter bespoke this, having noted the popularity of screaming yellow this Fall season, and a similar trend towards heavier, highly textured knits.
This shoulder/mini shawl is done in machine washable Merino sport weight, from Gems. I used the May Day Shawl pattern by Zabeth Loisel-Weiner, available for free on Ravelry. It took about 2.3 skeins of the yellow. I consider it a very simple project – the instructions and charts were spot on, and very clear. Lots of “bang-for-the-buck” here in terms of visual complexity vs. effort invested. If you are looking for a first serious lacy knitting project, this is not a bad place to start.
That being said, I have to say I detest knitting bobbles and nupps. These are bobbles. I tamed them somewhat by knitting backwards – that is learning to work the back-again bit of each bobble working off of my right hand needle, so I didn’t have to flip the work over to purl back in the middle of each little bump. If you haven’t tried this yet, it’s well worth the learning curve investment for little back-and-forth scraps like bobbles and Entrelac.
A quick word on blocking if I may. Lacy knitting needs to be blocked to within an inch of its life – as tightly as you can. Here’s the before photo, and the mid-block photo:
If you count the 2×2-inch squares of the checked sheet I block on, you can see that pinned out (right), the thing is almost twice as big as it was before pinning (left).
How do I block? I admit I’m not the most precise or assiduous, but I do try, at least a bit to keep things neat and square. The black and white sheet, although an eye-popping Peter Max background is very helpful in estimating and meeting target measurements, and keeping 90-degree angles true. I bought it at a discount/close-out store years ago when shopping for inexpensive bedding for the girls to take to summer camp. I knew that if the sheets survived, they would be perfect for this use. (Plaids, Tattersall checks, and ginghams would also work).
I dampened the knitting, and spread my sheet over an area rug to provide anchorage for my pins. Then I threaded blocking wires across the top of the piece, slipping them into every edge “purl bump.” Then I inserted additional wires along the join line between the edging and the center triangle. I pinned the top wire down first, spreading the work along its length, then stretched the piece down the spine, pinning the pointed junction of the two side wires. Then I pinned the side wires out as far as I could manage, making sure to keep the angles (as measures vs. the checks) true. I had to jockey and adjust them a few times, but eventually I was satisfied. Then and only then did I place a single pin at each of the edging’s points. If I had started with the edging points, the center triangle would have been deformed. Using the wires keep the piece from developing internal “scallops” corresponding to the pins placed in the edging.
No lie – it is tedious. But it’s worth it.
Now on to other things.
I say goodbye to this tiny little embroidered scrap. It’s the finest gauge I ever worked – over 38 stitches per inch on 80-ish or so count muslin, using standard black sewing thread:
It started out as an experiment, to see if I could do a coif at that gauge. Soon after I got started it met with an accident, and was never finished. That was about 35 years ago, easily. Why goodbye? I’ve mailed it off to become part of A Larger Project. The East Kingdom doll project was on display at the 50th anniversary, and still lives. About the only thing people remember me for is that I embroidered, so I am sending this snippet to the curators/creators to be a prop for the doll that represents me. Maybe they’ll make a tiny flat frame for it. That would be sweet. Pix if I get some, I promise.
And finally, another start. I have two balls of precious multi-color yarn – rather pricey Schoppel Zauberball Crazy fingering weight. I adore just looking at them. But it was time to put at least one to good use. So I began casting around for something fun to do with the very long repeat. I’ve tried a lot of the popular projects that use Zauberball. And I didn’t feel like working on some of the others. But then I remembered that I HAD a design of my own. I did up Kureopatora’s Snake in that yarn – a DK weight variegated with a long repeat. It has always been the most popular original pattern on any of my websites. So why not try it with a smaller gauge yarn and explore the possibilities?
Here I am. Following the pattern as written, with three exceptions:
- Using the Zauberball Crazy fingering weight instead of the Noro Kureopatora DK.
- Using size 5 US (3.75mm) instead of 6 US (4.0mm) to make the thing more airy
- Working across 40 stitches instead of the 30 specified.
You can see that both the color progression and shaping are beginning to present themselves. I think that if I had a chance to rename this now established pattern, I’d call it Chanterelle, instead. More on this one as it grows…
I wish I weren’t but it’s been so, and for a while.
Sadly this means that not much substantive is getting done on any of my main projects. I feel quite badly about this because I promised a pair of Octopodes Mittens to a niece. Thanks to the ungentle hands of the Philistines at TSA, during my trip to Florida, my on-the-needles project was unceremoniously dumped out into my checked baggage, the needles were pulled out of the work (and one was lost); the magnet board I was using was bent, the magnetic strip that marked my place is missing, and they broke the yarn to remove and lose the Strickfingerhut knitting thimble thingy I use to make stranding easier. So progress has been stalled while I replace the needles, Strickfingerhut, and magnet board.
Here is the barely-begun first mitten prior to TSA’s pillaging:
Back to Square One on that project.
In the mean time, my mindless “briefcase project” socks march on. These require little to no thought, and are done in stolen hours while waiting on line at the post office, in large group meetings at work, and the like. The ankle patterns are improvised on the fly. Since January, I’ve done 3.75 pairs – all toe-up, quick knits on 76 stitches around, (US #00s – big as logs…)
Starting with the blue pair with red accents, yarns used were blue striped Cascade Heritage 150 Prints, with Kroy Sock toes/heels/ribbing; orange Cascade Heritage 150; Plymouth Neon Now (it really does glow under UV light); and Berroco Comfort sock, in pastels – which is an acrylic/nylon blend with no wool in it at all. The last one is an experiment, we’ll see how it feels to wear, and how well it holds up in regular sock rotation.
Now that I have the requisite replacement materials, it’s back to the Octopodes Mittens. Winter 2018 may be almost over, but I have a feeling the niece will appreciate them in 2019.
A couple starts and finishes here at String Central.
First – a scarf for Elder Daughter. She favors autumn colors, and the last scarf I made her about five years ago was due for a replacement. I had a ball of Zauberball Crazy in my stash, that was way too nice to waste on socks that won’t be seen. Something that demonstrative is better out in the open rather than hidden away in shoes. But she wanted a strip-style classic scarf, not an abbreviated shawl or wing-shaped piece, so one ball of fingering weight yarn wasn’t going to be enough unless the chosen stitch was very lacy. But it’s hard to make the color gradations pop in a lace design…
The most obvious thing to do is to eke out the fancy multicolor yarn using a solid – either a component color of the multi, or something contrasting. So I went stash-diving. And I came up with another problematic yarn that fits the mission envelope. Lister Lavenda fingering weight 100% wool, circa the late ‘60s.
How do I come by such a superannuated yarn? Easy. I stole it from my mom.
To be fair, “stole” is a bit of exaggeration. She let me have it, from her own stash. My mom has been a prolific and talented knitter as long as I can remember. She tried many times to teach me when I was a kid, but I didn’t actually pick up needles until after I was out of my own. BUT I did crochet quite a bit as a kid and teen. Mom let me stash dive on occasion. This particular mustard color wool was part of a vest project she began for my dad, long, long ago. I’m not sure why it was never completed, but mom had a huge bag of the stuff, well over a dozen little one-ounce pull skeins. I adopted them and have used them slowly over the years. Pretty much any gold/mustard yellow accent in anything I’ve knit from fingering weight has been mom’s Lavenda.
The yarn itself is quite nice, a bouncy, spongy 100% wool,, but fragile. It fulls if you so much as look at it with damp, warm eyes. It rubs through in socks all too quickly, even when reinforced. So scarves and hats are the best use. I had four skeins left, a bit over 100g, all told. About the same amount as the one Zauberball.
I used a free pattern on Ravelry, Christy Kamm’s ZickZack Scarf. I used 3.0mm needles (about a US 2.5), and did the recommended eight repeats of the 12-stitch garter stitch pattern. swapping the multicolor and mustard yarns every other row (each garter stripe). Every row was the same – as such it was the perfect totally mindless piece to work in the evenings, even while watching subtitled movies.
Here are the front and back:
Note that they are close, and both are pleasing, but they are not identical. Nor could they be. Garter stitch produces identical TEXTURES on front and back, but when you change colors, the appearance of the row is different front to back. If I had knit 3 rows of multi, then 3 rows of solid, the two sides would look more alike, BUT I’d end up having a lot of long floats up or ends to work in because my other-color yarn would always be on the wrong edge of the work when I went looking for it to change.
And the finished piece:
Lessons learned: If I had to do it all over again, I’d only do six or seven repeats across, to make the thing just a bit narrower, but longer. The recipient loves it, but I prefer narrower scarves. Also, the design benefits from not being worked loosely. If you attempt this one and are a loose knitter, go down a needle size or two for best effect. All in all though, I’m quite happy with the piece, and offer thanks to pattern source Christy for thinking of adapting this traditional heavy-knit blanket zig-zag to a light weight scarf.
And the other start – Bumblebee Socks for Younger Daughter
This project also started off with the yarn. Long time pal Wendy has embarked on a yarn dyeing venture. She brews and experiments, and when she’s accumulated enough inventory, offers it up on line or at knitting festivals, via Facebook or her Etsy page, under the “Strings N’’Strands” imprint. As such it’s sporadically available but worth waiting for.
Last month she posted that she’d just finished dyeing a black/yellow combo, and posted pix. It sang to me:
Younger Daughter has a thing for bees. She adores them, and advocates for bee-preservation causes. This yarn would be perfect for a pair of socks for her.
So, a new conundrum. How to use a variegated to best advantage in socks? Not every hand-dyed variegated works out well in-project. Sometimes the colors flash in an inopportune way. Sometimes they don’t flash at all, and end up muddy. And how to work in the bee theme….
After some experimentation, here’s the end result:
Entrelac! The little entrelac segments are like a scrum of fuzzy, striped bumblebees. And the periodicity Wendy dyed in worked out perfectly, making a nice, even self-stripe on my toe-up foot.
For the record, this is improvised as I go. I’ve knit several entrelac projects at this point, both in the round and flat, so I’m pretty comfortable with the base concept. It does tend to be less stretchy than flat stockinette, so some fudging of count was required, but it all worked out.
This particular pair of toe-up socks uses a Figure-8 toe, and short-rowed heel. I am knitting on five relatively large US 0 needles (four in the work, one in hand) – on 72 stitches around (18 stitches per needle). I worked my standard no-think sock until I was two rounds past the heel, then broke into entrelac on 6-stitch groups. Although the math works out perfectly to have six entrelac pattern units , doing so makes a tight ankle (see above), so I fudged my start-up triangles to end up with 7. That’s working out quite nicely, to make a comfortable, not quite slouchy sock.
I’ll continue on this ankle part until the sock, when folded in half along the heel diagonal that part is equal to the length of the foot, then I’ll do 20 rounds of K2P2 rib to finish.
Thanks Wendy! Your yarn made this project, and will go on to make Younger Daughter buzz with joy.
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:
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.
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.
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.
The now standard run of ten types of holiday cookies:
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):
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.
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:
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):
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:
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.
Well not, actually. Just socks that feature hips:
These are the socks I mentioned in my last post, bespoke by the Resident Male as a gift for his hip replacement surgeon. A frenzied week of knitting, to be sure, in order to be ready to be given at the scheduled follow-up appointment.
I will say that both TRM and the socks have knit up well. Thanks to all for the get well wishes. He’s hobbling around quite spryly with cane, and gains movement range and strength every day.
On the socks, as previously posited, I worked them on two circular needles, in the round on 80 stitches around (US #00s) with figure-8 toe and short rowed heels. I kept on that way until just after the completion of the heels, then splitting them at the center back, adding a stitch to the new left and right edges for later ease in seaming, and then continuing to work side by side, but this time, flat.
Here’s a typical late-night, poorly lit shot of the pair, side by side, being worked flat on a single circ, which I remembered to take at last minute:
All in all, while I was happy to fulfill the special request, and interested in the experiment of working a pair on two circs with an Intarsia clock, I have mixed feelings about this project.
- If I had more time, the socks would be about an inch longer before the ribbing. The proportion would be better.
- I still am not a fan of Intarsia. That’s my mother’s favorite style of knitting. I vastly prefer textures, lace and stranding. Taming the multiple bobbins or yarn butterflies drive me crazy, no matter how careful I am at always using the strands in the right order and orientation.
- I should have used proportional graph paper rather than plain 1:1 squares when I charted the hip. The stitch height:width ratio has flattened the design somewhat, and has lost some of the more gracefully round curvy details. Here’s a place to make printable graph paper in any proportional ratio you need.
- I have and will probably use two-circs again for larger things like sleeves, but I don’t like that method for socks. Not one bit. Stopping to assort the needles and yarn slows me down big time over plain old DPNs. I know others adore the method, but it’s not for me.
On the up side, the socks are complete. They are the right size (I aimed at a guessed shoe size of men’s US 12-13, for a 6-foot guy), and although just a tad short from heel to ribbing, are totally wearable. The motif sits well in place, and the copious end-darning doesn’t create uncomfortable ridges inside. The mattress stitch seam worked perfectly, and the result is invisible from the outside of the work.
Now on to other projects!