Sunday, February 26, 2006

Navy Blue Shawl

My blue shawl is one of my most satisfying projects. It happened by mistake.
About 10 years ago, I bought yarn for a sweater, navy blue Woolease with sprinkles. With only the front bands left to knit, I tried the sweater on. It was terrible. The boxy shape I thought was so attractive turned into an awkward and uncomfortable beast hugging my shoulders. I threw the sweater, yarn and needles into the back of my closet and promptly forgot about it. I was working, going to college and raising 2 teenagers. Knitting was on the back burner.
Fast forward 10 years. My teenagers had graduated from high school, and I was finished with my own college degree. I had time enough to knit, and I happened to find the sweater in the closet.
I decided I didn't have to carry the burden of this ill fitting and unloved sweater any more. I would let my mistake go, and reshape my project into something new.
I unravelled the sweater and made this shawl. I chose a Faroese type pattern, and since I wasn't sure how much yarn I needed, I started at the top instead of the bottom. I wanted to try a bit of lacey knitting, so I started with an easy motif down the center back. By the time I reached the end, I was confident enough to expand the lace across the bottom.
I love this shawl. It is going on 2 years old, and I have used it almost every day. If I'm going out to the mailbox, I throw it around my shoulders. When I'm a bit chilly in the evening, I wrap up as I knit on the couch. I have taken it camping in the summer, it's just the right weight to fend off a chill as the sun goes down.
My DH laughs at me, he says I look like Grandma Smurf in my blue shawl. I wear it anyway. The sprinkles hide a lot of the lace pattern. I wear it anyway. The Woolease is mostly acrylic, and the shawl stretches and sags. I wear it anyway.
I've thought about making another shawl, but keep working on other projects.
This shawl suits me, and I really don't need another. When this one gets too raggedy I'll splurge and get real wool. For now, nothing can take away the satisfaction I get when I wrap this shawl around my shoulders. Instead of hiding my mistake in the closet, I created something I use and enjoy every day.

Friday, February 24, 2006

More Mosaic Knitting

I wanted to try more mosaic knitting, and decided to make some potholders out of sampler squares. I just finished the first square. I used Mosaic pattern #46, page 40 from B. Walker's book, 'Mosaic Knitting'. I think the pattern doesn't show so well in garter stitch and the Sugar'n Cream yarn, but I managed to get a pretty good picture. A smaller sized needle will give me a firmer fabric. I don't feel like frogging, so I'll make another square with the size 8 needles, and go down to 6s for the next set. This square turned out 8x8", and I have enough yarn to easily do another square. I'll find a different pattern, and reverse the colors for the backside. I will also need to cut a liner before I sew the squares together, I hate potholders that let my fingers burn.

I also got Roxana Bartlett's book, 'Slip-Stitch Knitting' on loan from the library. The book is filled with color shots of mosaic designs, which is a nice change from Walker's book. There isn't much she can add to the basics of Mosaic Knitting, but I like her discussion of color. I haven't read the whole book yet, I'll report more later.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A Little Bit of Lace

A nice change of pace, a knitted lace bookmark. I made this for the March Bookmark exchange of our lace group. I hate to let it go, the peach is one of my favorite threads. The finished size is 2.5" x 5". I cast on 25 stitches in Cebelia #20 with #000 needles. That's the smallest size from my set of Susan Bates Silvalume sock needles. My first attempt was the Branching Out Scarf from After 2 repeats I decided I really didn't like the k3togs in the pattern. In the description, Susan says she made a slight modification to Barbara Walker's pattern in the 2nd Treasury. I found "Leaf Shadows" on page 312, and was much happier with it. Only 1 k3tog, much easier for me to negotiate with my death grip on those teeny, flexible needles. I'm pretty pleased with it, especially since I managed to block it without getting any cat hair bonded to it during the process.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

More Opal Socks!

Last night I finished the orange socks for me. My son gave me the yarn for Christmas, and I now have my first pair of Opal socks. I think they are a bit too short, and I might want the heel flap longer. I like a sock that is snug in the heel, but these feel too short at the toe. I'll wear and wash them a few times, then make some notes on my pattern.
Also another pair of baby socks. This colorway has lots of white, so I think I will continue making baby socks from this skein. I could get knit a pair of kid's sized socks from what is left, but I think the white will stay nicer in an infant sock.
I'm trying to keep good notes for my sock knitting. I keep a page in my notebook with all the critical information for each pair I knit. When I get feedback, I make a note on the pattern and the next pair I knit can be closer to the Perfect Sock.
I think a new sock knitter should keep and wear the first pairs they make, rather than giving them away. Some of my first socks are my least favorite; baggy through the heels, loosely knit and sloppy by the end of the day. I never would have known I needed to go down another size of needles, or change the way I bind off if I had given the socks away. I also think I should do the same when I change yarns. I gave my daughter the first pair of Opal socks I knitted, and I'm not sure how they fit and feel. I am looking forward to wearing my Orange Opal socks and discovering for myself how they feel and wear.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Mosaic Knitting Samples

Take a peek at my mosaic Knitting. I obviously have to develop some skills before I include mosaic knitting in an actual project. The colors are bleached by the flash, but I think you can see the stitch definition.

The red sample is my first, and I started by knitting one repeat of 'Lattice', page 75 from the 2nd Treasury (the red book). In this book, the mosaic patterns are written out in words. One repeat was enough for me, and I decided to chart the pattern. I worked and worked, but could not translate Lattice to a chart, so I charted the very first mosaic pattern in that chapter, under the heading 'Beginner's Mosaics'. After 2 repeats from that chart, I had to admit that something was not right. I studied and erased, finally managed to get a corrected chart and knitted a repeat. I did the last repeat in garter stitch and called it good for now.

Then I saw Suzann's mosaic sample and chart she created. She notes where a stitch is slipped in her chart. I got out my charting paper and pencil and tried again to chart Lattice, and this time it made sense to me. This sample is in the round, 36 stitches. I went up a needle size, and that made a difference in the way the colors are showing. I did two repeats, then switched colors. I did just a bit more than half the pattern, and was not happy with the way the color is hidden behind the black.

I can see I will need to experiment with needle and yarn sizes in order to get the look I want. I ordered 'Mosaic Knitting' from Schoolhouse Press, they are reprinting the book, with a publishing date in April. I'm looking forward to that.

After this brief interruption, I'm back to my socks!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Another Pair of Baby Socks!

I have just finished the 5th pair of baby socks, and am finally happy with my pattern. I am casting on 36 sts, size 1s, Opal sock yarn, and keeping to a k2p1 rib down the instep. I shortened the cuff just a bit, but the foot is still about 4" long.
Notice anything different about this pair? Well, they match! Using my ball winder and my trusty kitchen scales, I divided the skein into two 50 gram balls, snipped the yarn at the right spot in the pattern, and knit one sockie from each ball.
That's one thing I really like about the Opal yarn. If I watch my scale, the pattern repeats at 50 grams every time. I end with one ball about 49 grams, and the other ball 51 grams, but that's close enough for me.
Now I have enough left in this skein to make a nice pair of kid sized socks for charity, or I can continue on with baby socks for the Opal Longest Line Contest.
I see a trip to Marshall in the near future, I'll take my orange Opals along for the car ride. I'd like to get them finished so I can start another pair for my son.

Friday, February 10, 2006

My second pair of baby socks is done! I made a few changes with this pair, and have started a third, with a few more tweaks to the pattern. All of the socks are 36 sts, #1 needles with Opal fingering wt. yarn, and about 3.75" long. You might recognize them as leftover bits from my first pair of Opal socks.
You can see we are having a little bit of snow today. After more than 40 days of above normal temperatures, we are finally down to average temps for our area.
I'm yearning for yarn, just a skein or two. I'd like a ball of solid bright red or green Opal to add heels and toes to the charity socks I'm knitting. When I finish my orange Opals, I'd like to start another pair of socks for my son, but I have a skein in my stash that might do for him. Then there is the Barbara Walker book, Charted Designs, I want to order from Schoolhouse Press. I have birthday money from my mom, and I'm itching to spend it. My birthday is before Christmas, and I usually wait till after Christmas to buy something for myself. I think know I like to ponder the possibilities as much as the actual purchase.

Monday, February 06, 2006

This weekend I knit the gussets and turned the heels on my Orange Opal Sox. I used Sockulator V which is a toe-up sock with gussets and heel flaps. I did the gussets with the L1b and L1A increases. They worked very well, I haven't been able to do those increases correctly until I read this great article.
I have been using Roman Rib Stitch Toe-up Sock Pattern which has a similar construction. The Sockulator uses 'wrap and turn' for the short rows, plus adds extra stitches to the heel while turning. The Roman Rib picked up the extra stitches after the heel turn, which occasionally gave me tiny gaps in my socks, especially the fingering weight socks.
Another new technique in my quest for the perfect sock! I will make the additions to my 'Master Pattern'.
I need to finish my second pair of baby socks, then I'll start another Opal sock for charity. I will probably send them out when the third pair is done. After I finish my socks, I think I will start another pair for my son's birthday. He is wearing the two pairs I knitted earlier, and hasn't lost them, either. I think I will try to keep the OTN count to two. One for charity, one for personal or family. A third pair seems to be too distracting.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Two more pairs done! I did the baby socks on #1 dpns and frankly enjoyed the break from 2 sox on 2 circs. My husband even said it seemed as though I wasn't having too much fun with the new method.
I've started another pair of baby socks, a little different this time. Each baby sock takes only 8 grams, so I can get 3 or 4 pairs from the leftovers of my first pair.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

I just learned about the 'Longest Line of Baby Socks Contest' and have added a button that links to the details. There is also a nice baby sock pattern in 3 sizes. I am up to the ribbing of my second pair of socks for charity, and this will give me the impetus to finish off and start another pair in a new pattern. I can make several pairs of baby socks from left over yarn. After the contest, the baby socks will be given to shelters for abused women and children, which fulfills my mission to knit socks for the needy.

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