Monday, May 6, 2013

My totally tubular love affair (part 1 of hopefully 2)



My knitting has been pretty low-key over the past 12 months.  I knit a couple of fantastic, but simple, garter stitch afghans, more than a handful of stockinette raglan sweaters, and numerous ribbed cowls.

It was in contemplating knitting a simple 1 x 1 rib noro stripe cowl that the notion of revisiting the tubular cast-on/cast-off techniques went from the slow paced "some day" column on my to do list to the now! now! now! column.


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noro kureyon colorways 287 and 226
Inspired by the ubiquitous Brooklyn Tweed Noro Scarf.


My first, and I think last, completed attempt at using the tubular method was way back in January 2008, with my toe-up seal rock socks (ravelry link).  I knit one 2 x 2 rib cuff and was pretty impressed with how it looked, but a lot less impressed with the effort it took.  I frogged it so that I didn't have to knit the second sock to match.  Laziness.  I haz it.

As far as technique, I am pretty sure I used either Montse Stanley's Knitter's Handbook or Katherine Buss's Big Book of Knitting, as these are the only two reference books I had at the time. The issue for me then, as it is now, is that both of the book sources include foundation rows in their instructions.  The foundation rows have you knit/purl one stitch and then slip the next stitch.  You do this for at least two rows.  (I'm going solely on memory here, so bear with me if I'm wrong.)  I could never really wrap my head around these foundation rows.  If I don't understand where instructions are going, my mind refuses to process them.   My mind shuts down as a psychological defense.

Not understanding things makes me uncomfortable, you might even say afraid.  It is a trigger for me.  The trigger of trust. I don't have the emotional capacity to trust in things I do not know for a fact to be trustworthy.  Although I love books, and the written word, I don't trust either of them.  That's probably why I reread the same books over and over again rather than read new-to-me books.  The cray cray?  I haz it.

When a fierce desire to do something intersects with operating directions that don't make sense, I become frustrated.  As I don't counter being frustrated with my knitting, I move on.  Am I a little down?  Absolutely.  But I am never ever out for the count.   If something really intrigues me, I know I will try again. I trust that I will eventually succeed no matter how many times I fail.  Tenacity?  I haz it.

Five years pass and my fascination with Noro Kureyon and ribbed cowls ripen, refreshing the itch to conquer the tubular technique.  At this point in time the web has what I need; I find Ysolda Teague's tubular technique page.   I instantly fall in love with the long tail tubular cast on.   And I really mean love.  Within about 30 days I had used the technique in three Noro striped cowls and two top-down knit raglan sweater neck edges:


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I absolutely adore this edge.  It's perfectly rounded.  There is no wrong or right side, each side is identical;  it's magic.  Let me say that once more, with sparkles...

Glitter Graphics - http://www.sparklee.com


Yes, that just about captures my feeling of glee with this cast on method.  Aside from the aesthetic benefits, another reason to love the long tail 1 x 1 tubular cast on is it's complete lack of foundation rows.  That makes my inner rebel happy.  (Take that you misunderstood foundation row.)   Also?  It's really easy to do if you are already proficient with the basic long tail cast on method.

The one drawback I find is the attention I need to pay when joining in the round.  The cast on makes a very loose first row and my eye is not yet trained to spot the stitch symmetry as easily as I can with the basic long tail cast on.  I've taken to placing a stitch marker on the right side of the work every 20 stitches or so to make it easier to identify which the right side is.  


Monday, February 25, 2013

Noro. Yes, Noro.

The past few months have been all about the Noro.

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I just kinda went hog wild.  Which is understandable.  It's Noro.


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PLUS



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EQUALS


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Then there is


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PLUS


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EQUALS


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and lastly, but by no means leastly:


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PLUS


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EQUALS


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Deets/Details:

Noro Stripe Arm Warmers
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Yarn
Noro Kureyon colorway #217 - 76 yards (I think this colorway is discontinued :( )
Quince & Co. Lark colorway Petal - 57 yards
Needles
US7 - 4.5mm


Harvest Bowl Afghan
aCRX_2833
Yarn
Noro Kureyon colorway #263 - 433 yards
Noro Kureyon colorway #314 - 343 yards
Noro Kureyon colorway #255 - 756 yards
Cascade Ecological Yarn in colorway #8010 - 1,123 yards
Needles
US8 - 5.0mm


Epiphanies Scarf
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Yarn
Noro Silk Garden colorway #309 - 158 yards
Madelinetosh Tosh DK in Winter Wheat - 214 yards
Needles
US9 - 5.5mm

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Droid for Whom You are Looking...

Some time back the Hubster found an R2D2 hat on Etsy. Of course he was all up on that, imploring met to divert my knitting skills to this heart's desire. He is one of those jolly young fellows who took time off of work to see Episodes I, II, and III several times on their opening dates.

Sadly for hubby, my love does have limits and my quick answer was a resounding "hell, to the NO!" (Don't forget to envision some Zoro-style finger-snapping slashing with that "Hell, to the NO! I don't do instarsia!"

10 years ago, when I began knitting, I didn't start out knitting garter stitch scarfs. I started out knitting ginormous fair isle socks, instarsia baby sweaters, and a whole host of things I had no business starting out knitting. I was fearless with my Red Heart super saver. Fearless. I may be too timid to truly learn how to parallel park, but with knitting needles I have been foolish enough to try anything, anytime, anywhere.

And, I have always loved color knitting. It is why I knit. I am impelled to express myself with colorful string and wooden sticks. But instarsia, well instarsia was a place I never thought I'd return to. It is just too friggin' fussy. All those colors on bobbins clutter my knitting zen.

Well, never say never:

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My Blackberry Julip may have been a bust in many ways, but it relit a fire I thought was eternally extinguished. I actually enjoyed the instarsia aspect of the Spectra pattern and that joy made me think I would enjoy knitting the R2D2 hat.

And I did enjoy it. (And am technically still enjoying it, as this hat really isn't finished - I have some color to add to sections.)

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It felt hella good to do something challenging well. Hella good.

So, down to the gritty: I began this adventure with the chart generously posted by raveller Clarissa Browning (R2D2 Beanie, rav link). I went with the 96 stitch circumference, as that was the cast on count I used for another hat (rav link) I made the hubster out of the same yarn, Cascade 220.

Using schematics and a couple of comprehensive photos of the real R2D2 the hubster found online, I set about charting the crown. I definitely wanted a more faithful rendition than Clarissa's. I then began knitting the project in the round. I was halfway through the main pattern when I admitted defeat. There was a lot of stitch pulling where I had to carry yarn backwards. So I put the project aside and pondered my options.

Now there really was only one option. I needed to knit the main pattern flat. That's the only proper way to do the instarsia. So I let the project rest for a bit until I really believed I could pull it off.

I then tinked back to where the main instarsia pattern began, and reknit it.

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I then sewed up the section and finished up the rest of the crown in-the-round. With the exception of the first row of the split, the seam is invisible:

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Color, color, and more color. And then more color.


My current knitting is all about color. Case in point, my Blackberry Julip (aka, Stephen West's Spectra)(both are ravelry links):

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Yarn
Madelinetosh - Tosh DK - Venetian colorway
Noro - Silk Garden Light - #2050 colorway

Yardage
Total: apx 731
Tosh DK, 510
Noro, 220

Needle
US5, 3.75mm

Overall Feeling on Project
Meh.

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It was easy to fall in love with this project. The interplay of structure, texture, and color is fabulously dynamic. I saw, I wanted, I knit. It never dawned on me the final project would be nearly unwearable. But it is.

The outcome may be due to my use of DK/light worsted weight yarns. The original design calls for fingering weight yarn. Yet, my gut tells me no. The short row shaping creates a clingy, swirling structure that performs like a boa constrictor around one's neck. So, no, the yarn choice doesn't help, but the structure is the main problem.

 
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I won't be knitting this pattern again, in any weight. I have however co-opted the color and texture theme with a straight scarf structure. It has all of the charm and color goodness and with none of the choking hazards. So, win win.




Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Knitting right along...


The madness of loss is passing.  And it's a great relief.  Touchstones of this new era are two.  A few weeks back we finally got some kitties back in our lives.  It's been four months since we lost our last one and finally being able to love someone and take care of them is a wonderful feeling.  It's a feeling of living, rather than just existing.

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Fred (left), Seymour (right)


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Seymour foreground, Atreyu background


Fred and Seymour are siblings.  They weighed a little over a pound at their first vet visit.  Two weeks later and their legs seem to be growing faster than anything else. 

The emptiness of life without a father is more overwhelming than I had the capacity to imagine.  I haven't yet wrapped my head around the expansive void.   Not having cats simultaneously was nearly unbearable.   I'm glad that time is over.

A lot less unbearable was the lull in knitting.   I did keep knitting and I kept it very simple.  The grieving projects are past and not so interesting to me at present.   That which is putting a little bounce in my step is a simple, new-to-me project, my Blackberry Julip:

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This is the Stephen West Spectra pattern (ravelry link).  Who knew instarsia could be so absolutely fabulous?   Well, I surely didn't, so you can keep that smug know-it-all self-satisfaction to yourself missy.  Heheheh. Always the last one on the boat, I am.  

This project is my first ever use of a Noro yarn.  I picked up my first skeins of Kureyon, Taiyu and Silk Garden Lite a few days ago. The project above uses Noro's Silk Garden Lite, colorway #2050. (The contrast color is Tosh DK in the Venetian colorway.)

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I've spent a lot of time over the past few months ogling various garter stitch afghan patterns that make splendid use of the long color repeats of Noro. I've been vaguely aware of the perennial love/hate discussions about Noro on Ravelry, placing myself in the non-vocal camp of meh regarding these yarns. My unremitting stranded knitting fascination has made long color repeat yarns front and center in my knitting imagination. Ergo, I foresee more Noro in my life.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Knitting right along....

Well, not really. I'm not knitting. I'm grieving.

As a narcissist, I've spent a lot of time grieving. I am, in fact, an Olympic medalist griever. But this is the first time the grief is for the human life of someone priceless to me. My Dad. My Dad passed away. He died. He kicked the bucket. The Old Man, as he happily referred to himself, is gone. Unexpectedly gone. Gone before I was ready. What the fuck was he thinking?

This grieving is the same. But it's different. I'm not all "remember all the good memories" grieving. I spent a good deal of my life accepting my Dad for who he was and now that high road seems completely walled off. This is some crazy hard core grief. This knitter is mad. And there's nothing constructive about being mad at a dead guy.

Not to mention how impolite, tasteless, evil, you name it. A person stoops pretty low to kick a dead person when they're dead. I am that very wrong person who does it.

(long pregnant pause as I mull this last paragraph over in my rabid mind)

Now that's some technique I've got here. I've turned his death into an exercise in self recrimination. His death is all about me and I'm the worst possible type of human.

Well, maybe tomorrow I'll be a better person. One can hope.

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Madelinetosh Tosh DK in Ink

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

All aglow with a new an old scheme!

I blog on impulse. And today's impulse is courtesy of my morning reverie, a near perfect recall of the words uttered by the world's most cinematically perfect Henry Crawford, actor Alessandro Nivolo (what a swoon worthy name! "Run mad as often as you choose, but do not faint!"):


The story is Jane Austen's Mansfield Park. The movie is the much maligned 1999 remake. The line comes at the perch of the movie's climax. Henry informs Sir Thomas Bertram, alongside the family assembled in the airy drawing room, he is "all aglow with a new scheme." He wants to move to the Mansfield Park neighborhood so that he may exert all his energies wooing the ostensible heroine of Jane's final novel, Miss Fanny Price.

It is just one of many deliciously delivered lines in the movie. To be fair to those ardent admirers of the textual Fanny Price, Patricia Roczema's screenplay does hack her up considerably. I find my ability to stomach the movie ebbs and flows based on the time elapsed since I've last read the book. Yet if one can ignore the Fanny mess, there is much to enjoy because most all the other characters are faithfully drawn from the fabulously acid pen of our dear, dear Jane.

So what is my scheme?

Long story long, I received a tragically horrible hairdo Friday. No amount of rational acknowledgement of my average, aging face and perennial lackluster physical form has ever mitigated an untoward well of vanity for my spare hair. So, no I don't have nice hair, yet I am as vainly obsessed with it as with anything but yarn.

So it's Friday. Enter the tragic hairdo. Me driving home throwing a real live temper tantrum in my car, yelling and screaming, damning my hairdresser to the raging bowels of hell. Crying myself hoarse. Saturday morning, hungover from the fugue, I go in search of the only thing that can soothe my cracked vanity: YARN!

As always I hope for a yarn that will inspire me. I receive more than I expect:

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Malabrigo Arroyo in the Glitter colorway


It fits my current obsession for browns and fauns. I buy six skeins, I won't be running out of it any time soon. While I plug away on my "one" active project - another pair of waving lace socks, a first time knit with the artist formerly known as Sanguine Griffon's Bugga - I can swatch away with the Arroyo to my heart's content. A yarn to satisfy every new scheme springing forth from a restless mind.

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

By jove she's done it!*

Yes. I have designed a shawl. Fer realz.

Last weekend I worked out the kinks in the final chart of The Sheltering Bough and knit 'er on up. The end product is satisfactory, all the stitches in the right place. Not bad for a freshman effort.

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Now I have to get off my guff and do the really hard work: generate a pattern.

More conventional pics may be found on my rav project page.


*She, as in my first instinct is to not use a first person pronoun.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Sheltering Bough

I'm working on a hybrid shawl pattern that has the shape of Ysolda's Ishbel (which grows wider at a faster pace than it grows deep) and the easy, soothing fir cone motif that makes Evelyn Clark's Shetland Triangle such a fun knit. The pattern has been appropriately named The Sheltering Bough.

I'm using Madelinetosh's madtosh DK yarn in Badlands:

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I tried first using some of that new DIC cashmere smooshy I recently picked up but once I got to the lace section the fabric's touch didn't feel right. (Now that'll be a lot of knitting to frog, but) I'm glad I found the guts to abandon it and go with the madtosh DK.

This is a colorway I never would have purchased online. It's charms only became apparent to me when I looked at the skein in person, up close.

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The color is very reminiscent of her Cove colorway. The blues in the Cove are still there but of a much deeper hue. As well, the blue is a foil for the numerous shades of umber. The inverse of Cove:

Long Beach Scarf
Long Beach Scarf in madosh DK colorway Cove (lighter set of skeins)


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Olive Sands raglan sweater in madtosh DK colorway Cove (darker set of skeins)


Maybe, just maybe I'll be done with this this weekend. Maybe.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Things other than obsession...

The past week my life has been consumed by two passions, a new shawl pattern and Katniss Everdeen. I'm not ready to explore these obsessions here, though. I'm just looking to do a little housekeeping.

Saturday, I finally polished off the thumb gussets for these pretty fingerless mitts:

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Any Yarnissima fans might recognize the lovely coiny cable from her Firestarter sock pattern.

Visually speaking, there is nothing more striking than twisted cable knit stitches, especially when they are tiny. These are not tiny, but still extremely striking to this knitter's eye.

This project was a quick, fun gift knit. I used about 80% of one ball of Quince & Co's Lark yarn (colorway above is Peak's Ferry). I forgot to weigh the leftovers, so an approximate yardage isn't at my fingertips. One ball has 134 yards (the ubiquitous 50 grams). As per usual my kung fu grip when knitting small items in the round meant that my gauge was conspicuously tight, even using jumbo size US8s/5.00mm circs.

Mitts like these knit up so fast and are so versatile, it seems like a knit failure on my part that I don't have a pair in each color of the rainbow. I should gosh darn it. My problem is that that every time I get the impetus to knit a new pair I seem impelled to reinvent the wheel.

Last year I came up with a little design using a DK weight yarn I picked up at the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool, my Barn Booster mitts:

Barn Boostesr Handwarmer Mitts


Barn Boostesr Handwarmer Mitts


Barn Boostesr Handwarmer Mitts
Long Ridge Farm CVM/Romeldale DK in Red Rooster


Instead of just popping out a hundred just like this, I spent a good portion of the Fall trying to transpose the 24 stitch double leaf lace motif to a worsted weight canvas with middling results:

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Cascade 220 colorway 9442 - Sherbert


Eventually I returned to what did work and knit a second pair like the Barn Boosters as a gift that never was gifted:

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Loopy Ewe Sold Series Fingering in Sand


These have a very loose gauge. They make one feel 200% prettier just putting them on. Sort of like when you find the perfect dress to wear to a summer wedding. Anything feels possible wearing these mitts.

But back in the real world, I have been stuck trying to find the best knit thumb. I seem to keep referring to the problem as the gusset, but the gusset is simple for me. I have taken to using mirrored, invisible increases in adjacent stitches.

Solving the thumb problem is something I am very motivated to do. It is skill that I feel will add a great deal to my knitting . Once I master it, that is.



 

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