Here it is, totally finished, and with a vaguely decent picture (but as yet, unsigned and un-mounted).
The recipient is thrilled, which is always gratifying.
UPDATE: People want the specs on this piece so they don’t have to hunt through previous posts. 30 count evenweave linen ground, stitched over two threads (15 spi). The 6-strand floss is man-made “silk”, rayon actually; a vintage find brought back from India, slightly thinner than standard DMC floss. I stitched all of the foreground using two strands. Some of the background I did in single strand for contrast. Pattern strips with one exception are all from my forthcoming book The Second Carolingian Modelbook. The alphabet is from a vintage Sajou booklet #104 reproduced at Patternmakercharts.blogspot.com. I hemmed my linen by hand before starting.
The reason I haven’t done the last teeny bits is that I’m trying to finish off some end-of-year gifts for the spawn.
First up and already done was the new pair of Susie Rogers’ Reading Mitts, done in a sparkly yarn for Younger Daughter. She’s a fan of the surreal Welcome to Night Vale podcasts. One of their taglines is “Mostly void, partially stars.”
To get the partially-stars look, I used Loops and Threads Payette – an acrylic with a running lurex thread and small paillettes (flat sequins). Both inspiration and enablement are courtesy of Long Time Needlework Pal Kathryn, who sent this stuff to me. Just seeing it sparkling at me kicked off this project. Kathryn’s initial intent was to knit socks from the Payette, but that effort was a no-go. And rightly so. The stuff is not fun to work with, and would make supremely uncomfortable socks. The base black yarn is waxy feeling. The lurex thread breaks easily and is scratchy, and the paillettes can make stitch formation difficult – especially on decreases. Oh, and forget about ripping this stuff back. The lurex snaps. But the look can’t be beat, especially for a big-box-store available yarn.
Yarn aside, this project is a great quick-knit. Both mitts together took two evenings. I used the Payette doubled, and knit the smallest size, which fits perfectly. The only change I made to the original design is eliminating the bulk of cast-on and cast-off. To begin, I work a figure-8 or provisional cast-on. When I get to the last row before the cuff welt, I reactivate the bottom stitches and fold them up, knitting one bottom edge stitch along with its live pre-cuff counterpart. This melds the bottom into the work, and eliminates the final bit of sewing up, and cuts down on pre-cuff bulk.
To cast-off, instead of making a finished edge and then sewing it down, I leave a long tail and fold the live edge inside the work. Then I use that to secure each last-row stitch to its counterpart in the first row after the fancy welting on the upper edge.
Final verdict – the kid loves these. The original design’s pretty welt and eyelet detail is lost in the sequined look and it’s over the top sparkly. But it fits in perfectly with the Nightvale-inspired theme.
Next on the needles is a new scarf for Elder Daughter. As I mentioned in the last post, I’m enchanted by Sybil R’s designs and was determined to make one or another of them. At first we contemplated a different scarf, but rummaging through my stash, we came up with yarn better suited to her Mixed Wave Cowl, an exercise in nested short row enhanced stripes. Here you see the bare beginnings of mine:
I’m using an eclectic mix of well-aged stash denizens, plus a more recent variegated yarn seen here in a rather blue-shifted photo. The black and russet are both Lang Jawoll bought who-knows-when. The claret (again not as purple as it looks here) is Froehlich Wolle Special Blauband, which I’m pretty sure I had when we moved back to Boston in ‘95. The variegated scarf thingy is Regia Creativ one of the unravel-me-and-knit dyed strips, in a mix of autumn colors including chocolate, russet, claret, and burnt orange. The pattern is written for DK, on rather small 3.5mm needles. I’m using fingering-weight sock yarn on 3.0mm needles, which is making a slightly looser fabric.
More on this one as it grows…
It’s been lonely here at String. So few posts over such a long period of time. I apologize for that. Life has been hectic, with work deadlines, the close of Younger Daughter’s school year, and house projects just getting under way.
For a start, here’s Younger Daughter, decked out for Junior Prom.
No copycat column dress for her, she took inspiration from decades past, and found a bargain repro-1950s dress on line. Much child/parent conspiring took place to round out the outfit. The rhinestones for example are excavated from my jewelry box, and ultimately belonged to my grandmother and great-aunt. Younger Daughter looked great, and had a wonderful time. And not a bit of envy for dance-able comfort from some of her more elaborately dressed peers.
On the Trifles sampler, I ran into a roadblock. I tried drafting and tracing meshed gears, which I intend to use as a background, filling each one with a different counted blackwork-style filling. But I wasn’t finding a great amount of success. So I caved in and bought a plastic stencil. I’ll use selected bits of it, tracing the precision cut cams onto the cloth and tiling the thing where needed (it’s calculated to do that!). More on this once I get going.
I’m also working on a two-person knit-along with Friend Kim – a mesh-knit three-quarter sleeve pullover from a Kate Bellando pattern. I think we’re both at about the same mid-sleeve point:
For the record, we’re both using SMC Select Reflect, a light DK/heavy sport yarn in rayon/cotton blend. I can say that both of us have had extreme problems making gauge and have had to adjust needle size and move down in selected garment size to compensate.
And I’ve done a ton of socks as I noodled out the various problems and challenges, above. This pair was knit up from a hand-painted sock blank – Plymouth Happy Choices, in the Fiesta color.
In essence, a sock blank is a long scarf-like machine knitted strip that a dyer then paints with her or his chosen colors. When the scarf is unraveled for use, its patterns knit up in unexpected ways. I knit mine straight from the blank rather than re-winding, working my standard figure-8 toe, short-rowed heel sock. The crinkle made no difference in the finished product, and the convenience of working from something that wouldn’t escape and skitter down six rows was perfect for airplane knitting. The lace pattern on the ankle is from Walker’s fourth treasury.
And on larger, family projects – we start to consider redoing our kitchen. The floor tiles are worn past their surface color, the cabinets and countertops are sagging beyond simple repair or re-use, and the layout/look is inefficient and dated. The room was spruced up around 1980, as a peace offering between the warring couple that sold the house to us. I have detested the shell pink/mint green/faux Colonial cabinet combo from the day we moved in. Before pix in next post, for sure. Ten years is enough, and it’s time!
We’ve got columns up and down, and rows across. Bingo!
A simple double-eyelet lace pattern from the first Duchrow book. Knitting on modular-style using the pull-loop method I learned doing the Forest Path entrelac stole. The same large-eyelet edging I invented to use with my Motley scrap yarn blanket. And a measly 10 evenings of knitting time, using US #10 needles and 5 skeins of worsted weight Plymouth Encore Colorspun. A lightning project if ever there was one.
Two progress status reports today!
First is the Trifles sampler, in progress as a dorm gift to Younger Daughter, who will need such a thing in a year or so. (I have given myself lots of time for completion). As you can see, the motto is finished, using four different alphabets from Ramzi’s Sajou collection. I’ve played with them somewhat, working in the gold color accents, which are not marked as a secondary color on the charts.
I have also stitched in two small Daleks, to comply with her request, stitched in gold and off white silks. I am up to the surround now. I had originally planned to stitch lots of linear strips, patterns from my upcoming book, but as I alluded to before – I have been seized by Another Idea. The small stitched area just getting underway next to the T of TRIFLES is the beginning. I am going to make an interlocking and overlying mesh of gears of various sizes and configurations, each outlined in a heavier non-counted stitch, but filled in using the geometrics found in my Ensamplario Atlantio. I’ll be using coordinating fall colors for these – a bit of the brown and gold from the alphabet, but also cranberry, silver, and possibly a deep green. The total effect should be rather Steampunk, and a lot of fun.
However as much fun as this piece is, necessity intrudes. A friend of mine is welcoming a baby come the turn of the year. She’s expressed a fondness for traditional baby colors, so I am knitting up a small baby blanket for her. It will be car-seat and basket sized, not crib or reception size, so it is going quite quickly.
I’m using Encore Colorspun worsted, an acrylic/wool mix for maximum washability, this being a baby blanket and all. I’m knitting it on US 10.5 (6.5mm), which is relatively large for worsted in order to bring out the lacy stitch pattern. The stitch pattern itself is adapted from an 18-stitch-wide strip pattern appearing in Knitted Lace Patterns of Christine Duchrow, Volume I. I’ve chosen the narrow strip so that the gradual color changes pool, rather than speckling across the rows. I’ve also chosen to work the stripes horizontally because I only have four balls of this yarn. If I had run the piece the long way I might have risked running out before I reached a useful width. By fixing my width, I can keep going until I have just enough to do an edging, or I can find a coordinating pink or off-white Encore for the edging, if there isn’t enough of the graded color yarn. And finally, being a lazy person and not wanting to sew the strips together, I am using the long-loop join method I learned while working Fania Letouchnaya’s Forest Path Stole to knit the strips together as I march along.
Oh, and yes – those are massively long DPNs – about 12 inches long. I really like extra long DPNs for hats and sleeves, and generally don’t use circulars for anything less than 20 or so inches around. As a result I’ve got a collection of these admittedly unusual needles.
It’s been brought to my attention that the Squidley squid hat pattern I posted in December, 2011 has disappeared from this blog site. Although lots of links broke – understandably – when we ported the site from the old hosting service to WordPress, I have noticed that things go AWOL. Especially older blog pages, for no apparent reason.
So I repeat myself. Eventually I’ll redraft this and add it to my pattern archive, reachable at the links above. But for the time being, here’s a blast from the past.
SQUIDLEY – A METHOD DESCRIPTION
A brief foray back into knitting. A long-deserving, cephalopod-loving pal of mine bespoke a hat. Not just any hat, a hat in the shape of a squid. How could I turn down a challenge like that? So this weekend past, finishing up last night I made one.
There are several squid hat patterns on the Web, but I didn’t want to make any of them. I wanted to make a more hat-shaped hat, but with fully-rounded tentacles. I thought about knitting the tentacles first, then working up from there. While there are glove patens that start fingertip and work down, I dismissed the idea as being too fiddly. And seaming the tentacles onto a brim-up cap – even with mattress stitch onto a provisional cast-on row wouldn’t give the “bodily integrity” I wanted. So I decided to work top down with a double-knit ear band, with tentacles worked in the round.
The following post-mortem can’t properly be called a pattern, but the adventurous might be able to work up their own hat from it.
I used approximately 150g of a DK-weight rustic wool, and US #6 (4.0mm) 10-inch long double pointed needles. I also used 12 stitch markers (four of one color, eight of another), plus a double pointed needle of indeterminate size as a large stitch holder later on. I used small scraps of white felt to make the eyes, and sewed them on. Large sparkly buttons or commercial googly-eyes could also be used. Duplicate stitch in a day-glow yarn would be suitably squid-like.
My gauge ended up being a very stretchy 5.25 stitches per inch, with the double knit section being looser.
I violated every rule of knitting, making no gauge swatch, and planning nothing out before hand. I can’t speak to quantity or yarn name – this being a coned Classic Elite remnant from their old back room, well aged in my stash.
I started at the top, with a standard figure-8 cast on, the same one I use on all my socks, putting six stitches each onto two needles (12 total). From there I increased standard-sock toe style (at both sides of the toe, every other row) until I had 40 stitches total. Then I decreased at the same points I increased, but upped the rate to every row, until I had 20 stitches total. I worked a couple more rows plain to finish off the little squid-wing nerdle at the top.
After that I designated five evenly spaced increase points and began shaping the top of my hat, working make-one invisible increases at each marker, working them every other round. About 2 inches down from where I began the hat body increases, I added an additional five increase points to broaden out the shape a bit and make it more full. I worked those in the same every other row progression as the other five until I had 88 stitches, and the hat body was wide enough to sit comfortably on my head. From there I continued in stockinette for about 4 inches, until I had reached the top of my ear (more or less). At this point things become interesting.
On the next round, I took a second strand of yarn and holding it with my main strand, knit all the way around with both strands. This was the set-up row for the double knitting section and doubled the number of loops on my needles. From here to the point where the tentacles start, the hat was worked double-knit style. I do this using a strickfingerhut (knitting strand manager thingy), to hold my strands side by side, but some people prefer to work double knitting in two passes. In either case, what you end up with is two layers of knitting, “back to back.” Remember – I worked the set-up row using two strands of yarn. As I work the next row I will tease the double loops I just made apart, and treat each one as a stitch. I will also use the two strands of yarn separately (this is where the strickfingerhut comes in handy to manage them).
Using Strand A, I knit one of the two loops that make up the first of my set-up row stitches. Using Strand B I purled the other loop of that first set-up row stitch. Taking care not to cross the strands, I continued this way all the way around, alternating knit-with-A stitches and purled-with-B stitches. I ended up with 88 knits interleaved with 88 purls, for a total of 176 stitches. NOT TO WORRY – the hat will NOT grow twice as wide. My own gauge for double knitting is slightly looser than plain one-strand stockinette I worked this way for about two inches to make a nice, cushy, warm earband (which is not a bad idea on any top down knit hat). At this point the hat-part of Squidley was done and it was time to make tentacles!
Squids are decapods. They have eight shorter tentacles plus two longer ones with little pad-like sucker-bearing ends. The two longer ones are often skinnier than the other eight. This worked out well for me as you will see.
Taking care to begin on the stitch column that aligned with the center of the squid-nerdle at the top of the hat, so that the two long tentacles would be properly lined up with the sides of the hat, I began moving my stitches to my spare circ. As I moved them I placed tentacle defining stitch markers, like this. I used two colors of marker (marker and Xmarker) to make life easier.
8 – Xmarker – 18 – marker – 18 – marker – 18 – marker -18 – Xmarker – 16 -X marker – 18 – marker – 18 – marker – 18 – marker -18 – Xmarker – 8
Then I shuffled the stitches around the circ so that I was at one of the Xmarkers that designate the smaller tentacle. I took two of my DPNs and moved the stitches onto them BUT I held my two receiving needles in one hand and put knit stitches onto one and purls onto the other. I ended up with two needles held parallel, with the stitches assorted around them, ready to knit in the round in stockinette like the finger of a glove. You might like to use more and shorter DPNs, but all I had in this size was a set of 3, so I was stuck.. All of the tentacles begin this way, shuffling stitches from the long circ onto DPNs for working in the round. I worked the two long tentacles first, shuffling stitches around the DPN to get to the second one, so that the memory of working the first one would be fresh (remember, I was working on the fly with no written directions).
To make a long tentacle – Starting with 16 stitches, Work in stockinette for 10 rounds. K2 tog, k6, k2tog, k6. Work in stockinette for 10 rounds. K2 tog, k5, k2tog, k5. Work in stockinette for 10 rounds. K2tog, k4, k2tog, k4. Continue this way until only 6 stitches remain. At this point I moved the stitches to one needle and worked another 2 inches I-cord style, then I divided my stitches back onto two DPNs to make the sucker pad. Make 1 (invisible increase), K3, M1, K3, knit one round. M1, K4, M1, K4. Knit one round. Continue working this way until you have 16 stitches total. On next round K2tog, k4, SSK, K2tog, K4, SSK. Then K2tog, k2, SSK, K2 tog, K2, SSK. Then K1, K2 tog, K2, K2 tog, K1. The final row is S1-k2tog-PSSO, S1-k2tog-PSSO. Break the yarn leaving an ending tail, and thread the tail through the final two stitches to end off.
To make a short tentacle – Starting with 18 stitches. Work in stockinette for 5 rounds. K2tog, k7, k2tog, k7, work in stockinette for 5 rounds. K2tog, k6, k2tog, k6. Work in stockinette for 5 rounds. Continue this way until you reach the row that leaves you a total of six stitches. Knit only one row of stockinette instead of five at this point. Then S1-k2tog-PSSO twice, break the yarn leaving an ending tail and thread the tail through the final two stitches to end off.
Finish off all ends, and sew on eyes of your choosing!
People who know me know that I sit still badly. I have to have something in hand to do when waiting, watching TV (or listening to music), or while on planes or trains. Or on vacation. Nothing says vacation to me like sitting somewhere beautiful and taking in the scenery, abetted by needlework.
The past several weeks have been quite a rush, tumbling together major triage on our Pune apartment, pre-packing, relocating back to the US from India (sans The Resident Male, who follows next week); then having only a couple of days home to set things to partial rights, before heading out with the kids and a kid-friend for our annual week on Cape Cod. Now it’s pulling up the reins on our primary residence and getting it back under saddle, fixing two years of little annoyances, putting the cars back into full health and legal compliance, and the mother of all spring cleanings to dispatch the carnivorous dust bunnies now lurking in every corner.
So who has time for knitting? Well… I do. It’s mindless knitting, but it’s a comfort none the less.
I present Swirly – my own off-kilter take on the standard 10-stitch modular concept. Except that instead of one color, endlessly spiraling around itself in 10-stitch wide strips laid out in a base square, I’ve made some changes.
First, I’m using two yarns, one multicolor (Poems Sock), plus one variegated green (Zauberball), using a US #5 needle to make a light and airy garter stitch throw – a perfect “small something” to have on one’s lap while reading. For the record, both are machine washable/dry flat wool/nylon blend yarns, so laundering will be easy.
I started with the multi, working a 10-stitch wide strip, eyeballed for length. Then, leaving my active multicolor stitches on a holder, I worked a four-stitch wide strip of green around three sides of the multi. Then I put the green on the holder and switched back to the multicolor, working a short-rowed mitered corner, then two rows of plain garter, and another short-rowed mitered corner to establish one end of my center area. Then it was marching down the length of the green-outlined strip to the other end, working across the end (with mitered corners where appropriate). When I caught up to myself, I resumed the green, also mitering its mini-corners where needed. And I’ve kept going ever since.
What you see here is almost two balls of the Poems Sock, plus almost one Zauberball – all I had left in India, the last of the sock yarn stash I brought with me. When we got back to the US I managed to order more of each (lucky me – three more balls of multi, one more of the green!), so the blanket will continue to grow. As is, at this point, the thing is plenty big enough to be a baby blanket, so if anyone is looking for an unusual shower gift for parents who are not enamored of traditional pastels or sex-assigned color sets, 200 grams of multicolor sock yarn plus 100 grams of solid color are sufficient, provided no edging or supplemental finish is desired.
I’m not sure how big it will become. It will be done when I think it’s big enough. And I’m not sure how I will finish it off. The slip stitch selvedge edge stitches are a bit flabby to leave all on their own. I’ll either do I-cord all the way around, or invent (or find) a nice, simple edging to give it a more polished final appearance.
So far I’ve enjoyed this mindless bit of knitting immensely. I worked on it in the evenings while I was packing. I knit more on our flights back home. It was already large enough to cover my lap when we were stranded in Heathrow and spent the night perched on chairs in the main International ticketing hall. I kept going with it on the Cape, watching the tide march in and out, measuring the time intervals by garter stitch production. And I’m still working on it, relaxing with it on my favorite chair each night. (I missed that chair while we were away).
There’s no moral to the story here, other than suggesting that in uncertain and confused times, an anchor – even a soft fuzzy one – can keep one from drifting.
The Samosa Vest is marching along quite nicely. I’ve done it entirely ad hoc – no advance planning, no writing anything down (which is refreshingly liberating, for a change). It’s been sort of sculptural, with problems worked out on the fly. Still – there weren’t many. Here are the front and back views:
You can see that I’ve finished the body strips, wrapping the three primary ones around the front. I did some minor shaping on the fourth, to add a bit of of a bust dart to the general shape. Then I filled in two little patches under each arm. After that the front was substantively done. The next step was to pick up and knit the next strip, which outlined the upper back. I continued on from there, until the space in the center became too small for two mitered corners. At that point, I winged it – filling in the center back with a smaller shape, partially contoured with short rows, and a center-back join. The result is rather like a racer back, and is quite flattering on Younger Daughter (modeled pix when done).
I grafted off or picked up and knit the shoulders. Finally I worked an i-cord edging around the entire outer edge to give the body a bit more firmness, and for a more professional finish. It’s much nicer than the flabby chain selvedge edge that was there before.
Now I’ve got one last problem – there’s a Romulan (or Fire Kingdom) point at the top of each armhole. I picked out one side and re-knitted it, but the point remains. Time for some more noodling on possible fixes. Once I’ve got that repair done, it’s i-cord around the armhole edges, and I’m finished.
Suggestions for possible fixes would be most graciously accepted!
As you can see, I’m making quick progress on my Samosa Vest. Right now it’s just a single confusing strip of garter stitch knitting, with a couple of mitered corners and some angles thrown in. But when you pat it into shape, the concept emerges:
Ignoring the confusing letters for the moment, you can see the basic outline – the vee-neck, and the bottom edge that defines the width of the finished piece.
I cast on 13 stitches at A. I knit a garter diagonal band, increasing on one side of the strip and decreasing on the other every other row to achieve the angle. When my neckline was deep enough (B), I switched to working straight – a plain old 13-stitch strip until I was about 2 inches shy of my desired length. Then I worked a wrapped short-row miter, making the corner at C. I then knit across the bottom edge of the front, across the entire back (unseen, from D to E), then back across the front to the center point. Again, about two inches shy of the center point, I did another miter (F). After that I worked straight up to point G. I reversed the shaping of my initial angled strip to create its mirror image, from G to H.
Then exactly as I did in my Motley blanket, I cast off 12 stitches, added 12 and proceeded to work the second strip, knitting it onto the established edge strip as I went along. I worked miters again at points K and N. You can see I’m past O, headed back up to the shoulder where I initially cast on.
I will continue in this manner for one more strip. That will make the shoulders of the piece about as wide as the shoulders of the target tee-shirt I am using as my size model. At that point I’ll have to figure out how to fill in extra bits on the sides and in the center of the back. But so far the thing has come together exactly as I envisioned. And quickly, too!
…is no reason to rip it out because some other fool idea has wrestled you to the ground, wrapped yarn tendrils around your brain, and has refused to let go.
I only have two skeins of Noro Taiyo Sock yarn. That’s barely enough to make a skimpy shawl. You can see I’ve got five strips done. I have enough yarn to complete about eight pattern strips (and maybe a bit more) – a couple strips narrower than the ten strips specified by the pattern.
You can see that I was pretty far along, well into my second skein, and the growing shawl looks pretty good. The drape is nice too. In fact I’d recommend this yarn for the Lightning Shawl, but preferably 2.5 or 3 hanks, so that the final piece is of generous proportion. But I digress.
This afternoon after knitting on the thing for a whole week, I ripped it out. Every stitch. All that’s left is a pile of yarn balls and my two needles.
I’ve got this mad idea that I have enough yardage here to make a cropped, boxy vest type thing. And I want to do it somewhat along the lines of my Taco Coat:
Now this isn’t going to be as huge as the coat (that’s big enough to be a blanket with sleeves); and I probably will make it in one piece rather than a right and left, joined at the spine. But it will use the same idea of the outside edge and in working logic. The first strip will proceed from the shoulder into a wide V-neck, and down the front center, then mitered at 90-degrees, across the bottom of the hem and all the way around the back, returning to the front, climbing back up the front center and ending at the opposite shoulder. If I do this right it will work out not unlike a Surprise Jacket, with the only seaming being across the top of the shoulders..
I have no idea if this is going to work or not. Nor am I going to draft up a pattern before I begin. I’m going to cast on for that outermost strip, and as I go, compare it to a t-shirt with the boxy fit I am looking for. And then just wing it.
If nothing else, this project (code named Samosa Vest*) should make for some entertaining reading here, with lots of Doh!-moments and a few painful lessons learned.
* Just because. I am in India, after all, and a first cousin to the Taco Coat should also have a wrapped-snack-food name.
And foremost among the imperfect is me.
Case in point:
Here you see my beaded red lace scarf. I wanted to relax it a bit prior to adding on the deep lace edging, in order to make doing so easier. So I began pinning it out for steaming. Pressing it is right out because of the beads, but steaming should have set the acrylic nicely, smoothing out the selvedges for ease of access.
It’s obvious that I as I was tooling along nearing the finish line I didn’t pay attention. I missed catching all three loops of a tricky double decrease. When I applied light tension with the pins, the unsecured stitches popped out.
The lace patterning is a bit complex here, otherwise I’d consider just mounting the fallen stitches on DPNs and re-knitting that little bit, securing the final stitch with a bit of darning. But I think that I’ll probably have to unpick the cast off row (here at the bottom of the photo), then unravel the final half motif or so, remount all the stitches, and re-knit. Provided of course that this is the ONLY mistake of this type in the entire 5.5 foot long piece.
Moral of the story – overconfidence is bad. Check your work. Give a light tug every now and again to make sure your stitches are true.