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I realize that I haven't been updating lately, but I have two very good reasons. Really.

First, I've been doing a lot of knitting )

Second, many of the people who are getting knitted gifts read this blog )

The good news is that I am, in fact, done. I finished the last hat on Friday, so any other knitting that I get done will be a bonus. And the first thing on my bonus knitting list is a sweater for my daughter. I have been a crappy knitting mommy because I haven't yet made her one at any point in the last five years, but I really, really wanted her to have a nice wool sweater for her first skiing experience.

I'm using a pattern from Cabin Fever's Top Down For Toddlers, and I now feel doubly guilty for not having done one before because it's so easy. I started it on Friday, knitted a lot on Saturday, and now (Monday) have 10 of the 13 body inches done. I'm working it at a slightly larger gauge than the one called for (5 stitches to the inch instead of 5.5), which means that I'm working the pattern for a size smaller than what I actually need, which means that I'm doing a wee bit less knitting than I might otherwise have to.

I have also made a serendipitous discovery, which is more or less what inspired me to make a post today. I had 16-inch and 32-inch 3.75mm needles, but the body of the sweater is only 28 inches around. Not wanting to have to stretch the body around my 32-inch needles, I bought a pair of 24-inch needles. The only 24-inch Addi needles available were Addi lace needles, and I figured it wouldn't make much difference.

I was wrong )

Yeah, probably should have asked for a Patternworks gift certificate for Christmas...
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Cathedral Mittens

After a pause for bronchitis, I started in on the Cathedral Mittens again. I got all the way to the end of the first mitten, and all I have to do now is the thumb.

Cathedral Mittens--Detail

The decreases caused some thought and planning. I caught on pretty quick that the instructions would leave a very nice gold-black-gold three-stitch symmetrical border at the decreases. This worked great for the window pattern rows. Where it didn't work so great were the two black rows in between the window pattern. I concluded, after some squinting at my crappy black and white photocopy of the pattern (because, yes, I forgot to check while I was home and in the same room as the book), that the black rows didn't include the gold stitch. Which is fine with me, because it was enough of a pain to carry the black all the way across the row for two--count them two--stitches per round.

I'm still really pleased with how these are turning out. They're going much faster than I had ever imagined, bronchitis aside, and they're truly beautiful. I'm amazed at the work that went into developing this pattern.
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I'm still composing my DragonCon report, so instead I'm going to talk about mittens.

Cathedral Mittens--In Progress

I'm really, really pleased with the way these are turning out. I was worried for a while about the gauge, because the swatch is measured over the palm stitch, and the cuff stitch is a lot wider. I was knitting on these huge cuffs thinking the things would swallow my hand, but now that I've gotten an inch above the thumb I'm thinking it's going to be okay. The hand stitch is, as my swatch told me, a lot more compressed horizontally than the cuffs, and the contrast is going to give a nice gauntlet effect to the cuff.

Cathedral Mittens--In Progress

I had to rip back a row when I first made the thumb opening, but so far that's only my second big mistake. My first big mistake, you ask?

Imagine, if you will, the purple and gold chevron pattern at the top of the cuff with the last row of gold stitches offset by half a repeat. It was actually a very nice effect, and if I had done it for the whole row I would have gladly kept it because it was pretty. Unfortunately, I did half the row correctly, and the other half not.

I had already knitted another two or three rows by the time I discovered this. I didn't want to rip out, so what I did instead was to slip stitches along the row until I reached the point above an incorrect stitch. I laddered down, then, using a crochet hook, snagged the correct color that was already stranded across the back of the work and knitted the column back up. It worked out fine, since the colors were already stranded, just in a different order than they should have been. I really should have taken pictures of the process, though.

These are also knitting up a good deal quicker than I thought they would. So far it's taken about four knitting days to reach the point where I am now, and the pattern is very easy to remember after the first repeat. It's going to take some time, but not nearly as much as I had feared.
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Because I have nothing else to do today, such as get dressed, finish packing, help daughter do same, and drive to Atlanta, I'm going to talk a bit about my new knitting project.

Cathedral Mittens

I've wanted to do Lizbeth Upitis's Cathedral Mittens for fifteen years. I've been making projects out of the book Homespun Handknit for at least that long, and the Cathedral Mittens were one of the ones that had to wait a while. Thanks to Maggie Righetti's Dumb Baby Bonnet, Stupid Baby Sweater, and Baby Booties, I did have a good basic skill set, but the Cathedral Mittens were completely out of my league. Furthermore, I didn't even have access to needles small enough to knit at twelve stitches to the inch, and if I had I didn't have access to good enough yarn, either. So the mittens waited.

As the years passed, I got better at knitting, and from time to time I'd look at the Cathedral Mittens and think, "Yeah, I could probably do those now." But there was always something else to do before tackling such a finely knitted project that would be only for myself. I had, apparently, a lot of selfless knitting to get through first. And I still hadn't found any yarn that said, "Hey, remember the Cathedral Mittens? Use me!" For one thing, I really wanted to do the mittens in the actual colors from the original pattern--which I rarely do--and finding a fine yarn in just the right shades of gold, purple, blue, orange, and red that also came in black proved harder than it might seem.

A few months ago, though, events converged. I'd added 000 and 0 size needles to my tools some time ago, and had knitted a couple of projects at twelve and ten stitches to the inch, so I knew I had the dogged bloody-mindedness required. Not to mention the insanity of the 160-fish fish blanket. Then I spotted some Garnstudio Drops Alpaca black, gold, and other cathedral-esque colors, and my brain finally dredged up "Cathedral Mittens!"

More technical stuff )
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Sensational Koigu Socks

Pattern: Based on the "Pine and Neon" Four-Stitch Reticulated Patterns socks from Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch.
Yarn: 3 skeins Koigu KPPPM/KPM (100% wool). 2 skeins KPM 7160 (Purple), 1 skein KPPPM 841 (Greens and Black)
Needles: 2.5mm (US 1)
Gauge: 19 sts x 21 rows = 2 inches over stranded stockinette
Knitting Time and Date Completed: 4 weeks, completed 08/27/07

More pictures and notes )
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Boo's Sparkly Socks

Pattern: Boo's Sparkly Socks.
Yarn: 1 100g/425m skein South West Trading Company Tofutsies (50% superwash wool/25% Soysilk fibers/22.5% cotton/2.5% chitin) in #730 (Light Foot). 1 87yd skein Lana Gatto Crystal (63% viscose/20% Nylon/17% Polyester) in #4112 (Pinks)
Needles: 2.5mm (US 1)
Gauge: 9 sts = 1"
Notes: Flush with the success of the Fixation socks, I decided to make Boo a pair of pink socks. I showed her the pink yarn I'd bought, and she asked if it was "sparkly." I said I'd see what I could do. The next day, I went back to where I'd bought the Tofutsies, and found a matching pink eyelash yarn that certainly qualified as "sparkly." (And it was on sale.) So, I cast on more stitches than I needed, added the sparkly yarn, and ribbed the cuff in sparklies. After the cuff ribbing, I reduced the stitches to a more normal circumference and just knitted a basic sock. If I had it all to do again I might not double the yarn, and I almost certainly won't rib the eyelash parts, but the effect of the cuff was exactly as I'd hoped: big and floppy and foldable down to a nice anklet, but also capable of staying up.

More Pictures )

More Pattern Details )
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Fixation Socks


Pattern: Socks
Yarn: 1 50g/100 yd ball Cascade Fixation (98.3% cotton/1.7% elastic) in #9464. One ball actually made three socks, the two shown here and a *cough* rather smaller one. It was a swatch sock. Really.
Needles: 3.0mm (US 3)
Gauge: 7.5 sts = 1"
Knitting Time and Date Completed: Four hours each, completed 06/30/07
Notes: Although Boo's first socks were beautiful, they weren't exactly a success in the knittability and wearability departments. Knitting anything at 12 stitches to the inch is asking for a nervous breakdown, and after they were done Boo said the socks were "itchy." She loved them when she saw them, she really did, but she only wore them once before refusing to wear them again (cf. "itchy").

So, for my second attempt, I went with cotton, and I went with bigger yarn. Much bigger yarn. I used Cascade Fixation, which is cotton with a deceptively small amount of elastic blended in. It says 1.7%, but that 1.7% goes a long, long way. It's a very pleasant yarn to work with, soft and springy, but it took me a while to get the hang of what tension to use (for the record, really, really loose). It's very easy to have a lot of tension on the yarn without noticing, and I had to make a special effort to make sure that there was plenty of yarn pulled free and that I wasn't just stretching the same three inches of yarn over more and more stitches. But the results were very nice, and Boo loves them and declares them non-itchy. That's good enough for me.

More pictures and details under the cut, including a gratuitous cat picture )

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Harry Potter Scarves

The final tally: 9 scarves, 3 hats. Not bad for two weeks work. :)
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There is a picture of a lawn mower under this cut. Click if you think you can stand the excitement. )

The lawn mower repair folks delivered our shiny new lawn mower this morning. They also installed the mulch kit, no charge. So, while losing an entire lawn tractor = not so good, replacing it with a brand new one definitely counts as a save in a customer service department. Plus, it's been so darn dry around here that we haven't even needed to mow for something like three weeks, so not having a mower hasn't even been much of an inconvenience.

In Hypericon news, I'm washing my pile o' Potter scarves in preparation for tasselling this afternoon. I have two ear flaps left to knit on my fourth Jayne hat, and I'm fairly certain I have enough yarn for a fifth, which I feel confident that I can finish during the con. I used Elann's Highland Wool, and it's actually not a bad yarn, especially for a project that's supposed to look rustic. And, when I mentioned here that I was waiting for yarn, the yarn was, in fact, sitting on my front porch at that very moment, so I was able to get started a couple of days earlier than I'd hoped. Cheap yarn delivered fast. :)
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Knitting Machine

The pile of scarves is bigger, but the bucket of yarn appears no emptier. Is this some kind of new knitting physics?

I've run off eight scarves on the machine now, two for each house. I'm making a third Gryffindor scarf because I ended up with one old-style scarf and one new for each of the houses except Gryffindor, and I'd like to keep the symmetry. Besides, the first scarf I did has all the expected flaws of a prototype, and I'd like to have two non-crappy scarves for each house.

I've ordered yarn to make some Jayne hats, but I have no idea if it will arrive in a timely enough fashion. In any case, I've met my minimum Harry Potter production goal, so that's something. :)

Six days to Hypericon!
jinjifore: (Default)
So, in light of all the serious issues surrounding fandom, fanfiction, and Livejournal, I've decided to talk about knitting. Specifically, the knitting machine, because nothing says Serious Business like a knitting machine.

The anatomy of a knitting machine )
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While I was taking pictures and uploading and making notes, I decided to take a photograph that vividly demonstrates the importance of washing one's swatches.

Seven extra inches is a lot )
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I've just finished a massive upload of photographs to Flickr. There are a lot of new pictures of Boo and my friends and family, but I've also put up just about every picture I've ever taken of my knitting.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/87618458@N00/

If you want to look at pictures of people and animals, you can visit the "People, Places and Things" collection, which you can also get to by clicking the icon to the right of my main page on Flickr.

If, on the other hand, you'd like to look at thrilling knitting pictures, visit the "Knitting" collection.

There are several subsets in each category that will, hopefully, be self-explanatory. I've also tried to tag the pictures with years and subjects. In the knitting pictures, the "Project Main Entry" tag is used for the picture that has the complete notes for that particular project.
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Holiday knitting is proceeding. I have completed:

  • 3 pairs of socks + 1 sock (Please note these socks are now mostly in pairs instead of as individuals. This is a step up.)
  • 1 hat
  • 1 scarf

    Still to go:

  • 4 pairs of socks + 1
  • 1 set of wristwarmers
  • 1 hat (forgotten on last tally, oops)

    At present, though, I've stopped work on all holiday knitting in order to make my sister's wedding reception shawl. After much consultation, I realized that my sister didn't want anything frilly, lacy, or, really, complex. I was just at the point of steeling myself for the grim prospect of miles and miles of teeny stockinette when it occurred to me that there was, in fact, a simple yet attractive shawl pattern in existence that nearly every single damn knitter on the planet had already made.

    Yep, I'm making my sister a Clapotis.

    I'm knitting it out of GGH's Mystik, a cotton/viscose blend that's very smooth and satiny and quite wedding-dressy, especially in the white that I'm using. It's also very, very slippery. When Boo dropped a hand puppet on the cord of the needle as I was knitting, I had the somewhat heart-stopping experience of the needles shooting right out of each and every stitch. It was pretty impressive, really, to be sitting there knitting and suddenly be holding nothing but the knitting. (And yes, I got all the stitches back on, no harm done.)
  • jinjifore: (Default)
    So far, I have completed:

  • 4 socks (please note, I did not say "2 pairs of socks." This is an important distinction.)
  • 1 hat

    It may not seem very impressive, considering that my holiday knitting list includes:

  • 10 more socks
  • 1 scarf
  • 1 hat
  • 1 set of wrist warmers

    That, or it might seem a bit premature to be knitting for the holidays in September. But my non-holiday knitting due on December 30th--a shawl for my sister's wedding--has necessitated a bit of a fore-planning this year.

    To that end, I'm going for quite a few projects with larger gauges. The finished hat, for instance, was made of Colinette Prism to the gauge of 3 stitches per inch, and took me a day to make. The socks for my nieces were 8 stitches to the inch for slightly smaller than adult-sized socks, and the socks for my stepsister are hitting about 5.5 stitches per inch. They're going pretty darn fast.

    The scarf should be a fairly quick project as well. I'm making Knitty's Branching Out in cashmere, which is a good project to get to use some really nice yarn without going bankrupt. The hat and wrist warmers will also take not a whole lot of time, and one pair of socks will be knit at a fairly large gauge. No worries there.

    It's the last three pairs of socks that will be the time-killers. I don't have elaborate plans for either of them in terms of stitch patterns, but they'll be knitted at around 8-10 stitches per inch, and that will take time. Also, two pairs have to be finished for Chanukah (gee, I wonder what Boo and Albert are getting this year?), which ends on (I think) December 22nd this year.

    Still, it's only September 23rd. That's three months. No need to panic. Yet.
  • jinjifore: (Default)
    Well, the double-point experiment has gone away. I just didn't like the gauge I was getting with the 00000s, so I switched to some 000 (1.5mm, for those keeping count at home) circulars I had. They're a bit short for ordinary magic loop socks, but these socks are small enough that I can still have sufficient slack even at the heel turning.

    (Actually, I think I initially described the first needles as 0000s, when in fact they're .75mm needles, which I think makes them 00000s. And really, when you get down to the multiple zeros, who really cares anymore?)

    The yarn I'm using (Schaefer's Anne) is described as a fingering weight, getting about 7-8 stitches per inch. Because I'm apparently insane, I'm working these socks at a gauge of 12 stitches per inch. This means that I'm working on 80 stitches for a pair of socks that's about 6 1/2" around. See above re: insane.

    The socks are actually just a wee bit big for Boo, which is more or less what I intended in order to maximize the number of winters she'll be able to wear them before I have to face 12-stitch-per-inch socks again.

    They are also gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. The yarn is 25% mohair, which gives it this beautiful sheen and a lovely, silky feel. The colors are unbelievably brilliant, and in fact [livejournal.com profile] melissagay, on seeing the yarn, told me it would be a crime for whatever I knitted with it to leave my house. And honestly, I think that even if I'd initially intended to give these away, I would probably have been tempted to keep them anyway.
    jinjifore: (Default)
    I decided on Wednesday that I needed to make my mother some doilies for her birthday. She plays bridge every Monday, and when she hosts she buys the little paper doilies to put under the snacks and so on. Well, I hadn't had any ideas about what to do for her birthday and was going to just get her a book when the words "knit" and "doily" collided in my head.

    Little old lady lace knitters are not to be messed with )
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    Right. DragonCon is a week away. Well, tomorrow it will be a week away. Naturally, the most urgent, burning issue of my preparations is "What am I going to knit?"

    The Seaweed Afghan is right out. )
    jinjifore: (Default)
    Remember the cursed socks? Well, I finished their replacements tonight. I used Lane Cervinia Forever Jacquard, in a blue, gray, black, and white colorway. I like it a lot more than most self-patterning sock yarns because the colors change more quickly, especially the short bits where the colors are supposed to mimic alternating stitches. Plus, it's slightly cheaper.

    I immediately started on a pair of socks for Boo that I'd been dying to get started. I bought a skein of Schaeffer's Anne in a bright pink, red, orange, and purple colorway, just the thing for the discerning toddler. When I say "immediately," of course, what I mean is "immediately after winding 560 yards of fine sock yarn into a ball by hand." (The alcohol had nothing to do with the fact that it took me something like two hours to accomplish this.)

    Because the Anne is a bit thinner than the sock yarns I'd been using, I had to go down from the 0's I'd used for Al's socks to a some 00's. This isn't really a problem, except that the only 00's I have are two sets of steel double-pointed needles. Again, not a problem, because I've knitted fifty billion pairs of mittens and hat tops on double-points, no big deal. And, yay, I have two sets, so I can still work on both socks at once, which is my preferred method.

    Well, okay. So it's been probably six or seven years since I've actually used double-pointed needles, not since I learned about the technique of knitting on two circulars and let out a whoop of joy at the thought of never laddering again. It didn't take me long to invest in a duplicate set of circulars, and I've never looked back. I still carry my double-points around because they're very useful for picking up and fixing, but I haven't actually knitted in the round with them for some time.

    So far, I've knitted one (1) round. It didn't take long for it all to come back to me, the needles sticking every which way and flopping around, the winding the yarn around the wrong needles, the dropping the emptied needle under the desk five times. Plus, these are, in case I haven't mentioned, very thin needles. Very thin, 7" long needles, which is an inch longer than the ones I'd normally use, on a project that's 2" shorter around than the average adult sock, which means that there's a lot more extra pointy bits waving around than I'm used to.

    Still, one round down, and while it's not quite the whizzing along I can manage on two circulars, the enjoyment of working with double-pointed needles is still there. Plus, I don't have to worry about whipping my needle around and smacking a cat in the face like I do when I change from one circular to the other. There's always a bright side, after all.

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