Thursday, January 16, 2014

Twined Knitting



Okay, so I've done three evenings worth of work on the Twined Knitted hat for my brother, and thought I'd post pictures and give my initial assessment.  
First thing when it comes to twined knitting -- you are supposed to knit from a single ball, one strand from the inside of the ball and the other from the outside.  Which, since I'm knitting with two colors like is most frequently done with this style, I had to create a dual-color ball.  Not a big deal, but since I'm using worsted weight.. the ball was HUGE!!  I think it was at least 6" across..   I put a scrunchy around the outside of the ball to hold the outer-thread in place and not let it unwind unless I want it to.  This technique does work really well.  The two strands naturally twist around each other as I knit this project, so every now and then I have to untwist them.  And because of the scrunchy holding the outer yarn in place, I can just hold the whole thing up by the yarn and let it naturally spin to untwist.  Super easy.  



This is actually a picture of the work after two nights of work.  Last night I added another 7 rows or so, as I didn't spend quite as much time on it the third night, but I have completed a full repeat and then some.  This picture is just a little short of a full repeat.  I'm actually surprised how well the pattern shows in this picture.  Obviously, lighting helps strengthen the pattern visually, because in my semi-poor lighting that I tend to knit in.. it's sometimes hard to see.  Isn't it awesome though?  Below is a picture of the backside of this, where you can see it just switches colors every stitch.  I actually really like how that comes out as well, it just looks so clean.
This pattern is a little odd in it's initial creation.  You knit this tube like you see in the picture, but it's basically creating a quadruple layer of knitting that will be the main band of the hat.  When I've done 8 repeats of the pattern, I'll graft the finished end to the cast-on edge to make a loop.  I'll then attach the crown of the cap to the top of this part.  No wonder it makes for such a warm hat..with such a thick layer!


So far?  I'm impressed with twined knitting.  I think it's actually REALLY clean looking (when not mixing in a pattern), although the pattern itself looks cool as well.  But the tight color changes just look pretty amazing to me.  And the resulting fabric is really stiff, which has benefits and downsides.  I'm glad I'm learning this technique, though, and can say that I might be convinced to do it again for a pair of mitts for my brother or for me.  




Tuesday, January 14, 2014

January Knitting - Drowning in WIPS

I have determined that January is the month of too many cast-ons.  My eyes grew much larger than my time allotment allows for!!


It started with that In Dreams shawl.  (and here's some updated pics of it). I got all the pieces together and just couldn't help starting it up over the Xmas break after I finished up my holiday gift knits.  I'm up to 95 rows complete on it, and close to done with the main portion of the beading work on it.
-----As an aside on the In Dreams shawl.. This shawl had it’s first hiccup this past weekend. It went for a stroll out in the yard, enjoyed the leaves and played in the wind. My dog apparently thought the tupperware I was keeping it in was tasty and dragged out the whole tub, shawl, yarn and all. Luckily, the dog didn’t seem to chew on the knitting itself and just dragged it out into the leafy yard. And I believe the shawl is still okay, once I picked out the leaves and dirt. No chew marks on it or the ball of yarn. Apparently I need a new place to put this work in progress.


I also still have the Strangling Vines Scarf, which is pretty much my go-to piece for traveling knitting, because it requires almost no thought to work on it.  It's still going.. about a ball-and-a-half left of yarn to go on it.



But pretty early in the month, I decided I just HAD to try making a softy.  I fell in love with this little guy. <---- But I didn't have the yarn right away. I did order some good yarn to use on him though.  But until that came in.. well, anyway, instead I found another softy that would still look
great on my desk during the winter months --->  My cute little snowman.  He's sitting next to a couple candles on my desk now, making my office look and smell quite cozy.  He also only took a couple days to complete.  I do, however, want to do this reindeer this year.  Maybe in February.


Then my husband found this scarf.. and while I don't think he's really wanting it, I did have a couple friends beg me and offer to throw money at me to make them this scarf <---  So now I've got the yarn to make two of these.  Each skull crochets up super fast.. so it's a good filler piece when I get tired of working on the bigger pieces.  But it's hard to get myself to stay focused on it.  I'm almost halfway done with one scarf though.


And then.. I somehow came across this hat pattern ---> and learned that it was made with a special knitting technique developed in Sweden called.. tv√•√§ndsstickning.  Yeah, I don't know how to say it either.  But it means "Twined Knitting." And what THAT means.. is you knit with two yarns that are constantly twined around each other to make for a super warm double-layer of knitting.  I immediately knew I had to learn this technique and knit this hat for my brother, who moved to Canada.  I found this hat.. during the peak of the Polar Vortex that was sweeping down through the nation, dropping temperatures to somewhere near -30 degrees Fahrenheit (or worse) in portions of the continent.   While I'm sure he was keeping as warm as possible, another item or two to help with those extremes would certainly be welcome.  I showed him the picture and he really liked it too.  So.. I ordered some yarn for this project.  Turns out, it is easier to do twined knitting if you do it with "z-twist" yarn, as opposed to "s-twist".  Most yarns are twisted in the direction of the "s-twist", but some are done the opposite direction.  So i found some suggestions.. and ordered some yarn from Montana (yay for keeping it in America.. as opposed to going to Sweden for the yarn...).  I just got the yarn in yesterday and started working on this hat last night.  I was a little intimidated about the new technique.. but once I got myself all set up, the directions with the pattern were super simple to follow and I quickly got the hang of it.  After doing two rows, I think I've done just about every stitch the pattern will employ, and nothing about it is hard.. just fiddly.  I can definitely do this.  I'm looking forward to seeing the pattern emerge as I get more rows done.  I just hope I can get this hat done before February so he can get some value out of it this season!!

And to top it all off... my good friend is having a baby shower the first weekend of February.  And I really want to knit up a pair of booties and a tiny hat for the baby to have in time for that shower.  Luckily..booties and tiny hat will knit up super fast once I get started on them.  It's just one more thing to add to the pile of items that I want to do in January.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Holidays are Done

Progress Report:

Align Mitts - finished!  Gave them to Kim (my coworker) before the Xmas holidays, and she loved them :)


Sweater for Lizzy - finished!  Got this done just before Dec. 25th and she wore it for about a day before we took it off to bath her.  Since then, she's worn it for a day here or there but it hasn't been super cold for her to wear it.  This next week she'll be wearing it again.












Primrose Path - finished!  Completely!  Ends are weaved in and it's blocked and it's actually hanging in my closet!  I'm super excited about this, although I haven't yet worn it.  And really, it's something of a spring sweater anyway.. so once it warms up again some and the winter gray starts to disappear under the bright warming sun, I'll wear it out.  And it'll look fabulous.  (This isn't the final pic, but it's what I've got at the moment.)



Strangling Vine Lace Scarf - Onto my last two balls of yarn for this one.  I want this scarf to be long, and I tried it on after finishing my fourth ball and decided it had to have the 5th ball, and since I want it long it should just have all six.  This is my super easy no-thinking knit that I can do in the car, on lunch, or anywhere.  It'll be done before too much longer.


In Dreams - I've made real progress on this shawl.  I started it Christmas eve, after I'd finished my holiday knits, and focused on it for those two days I had off from work.  I kept plugging away for the next week on it, and with very minimal hiccups made pretty good work on it.  These pictures show both the pattern and a pretty view of the beading on it.  BEADS!  So many beads!  But I LOVE what they do to it, and I find them pretty easy to put on too.  Beading may be a new obsession of mine.  I took a couple days off of this project over the new year, but intend to dive back into it this weekend.





Monday, December 16, 2013

Knitting Again

I've gotten back into knitting full force once again. I do seem to be struggling to keep up with it, but I think I've been able to determine the cause of that - and it was quite simply, a lifestyle that was too busy to allow me time to do so.  While for quite some time, that focus on other things was pleasing to me, I have since determined that I just don't have the interest in all that other stuff anymore.  Perhaps its growing up, perhaps it's the forced changes in my life, but nevertheless I have moved on.  It was a conscious decision - I wanted to focus less on roleplaying fantasy games with people I only partially enjoyed, and wanted to focus more on myself (and my husband).  I wanted to focus on my spirituality again, as well as focus on knitting again.  So, here I am, refocusing.

Since I made this decision, I have nearly finished this scarf:


I took it on a plane with me to visit my family for my grandmother's 100th birthday. And during the day I was there, and the two 1-hr plane trips, I got about this much done of it.  I have since about tripled it's length as shown in this picture.  I think I have two skeins left of the yarn to add to it (having gone through four so far).  And having done that much of it.. this scarf has hit the "okay, bored with this single project, need to add a few more" syndrome.  I just simply don't do well with only a single project at a time. Project # 1.

Oh, I also made Ryan two hats during this time.  They look like this one, but in black and brown.  He wears them ALL THE TIME.  :D


I then decided I needed to go through my stash of yarn and determine what all I had and what I should make with all of it.  I've got a three-drawer cabinet stuffed full of yarn, and while I probably had plans for it all two years ago, I've since lost track of most of those plans.  Soooo.. it's pattern shopping time :)  I updated my stash on ravelry to make sure I had accurate record of all of my yarns, then went searching.  I have two yarns in my stash that I *desperately* wanted to use, because they are just so beautiful they need to be used.  One was a malabrigo lace yarn in tonal greens called verdes.  It's lace and I've got about 1400 yards of it, so it's gotta be made into something big and shawl-like.  The other is a blue-variegated berocco worsted weight.  

I'm still looking for something to make with the berocco, but the verdes.. i found the perfect shawl.  It's a HUGE semi-circular shawl called "In Dreams".  It also uses beading.  I could ignore the beading, but I've been wanting to learn the technique of adding beads, and I really really like how they are used on this shawl - so I'm going to dive in and learn.  Of course, it uses something like.. 5000 beads... so by "dive in" i mean.. dive in head first into a strong current with a waterfall on the horizon >____>.  But I've never been one to shy away from challenges.  I think I do better with those situations anyway. Project # 2.

Well, while knowing this pattern was going to be my next "Big project", apparently just adding that one project to my queue wasn't enough.  I also started digging through my knitting bag to determine what i was working on some year or more ago.  Two projects started:  a red dancing cranes scarf, and a sweater for Lizard, our puggle.  While the red dancing cranes scarf does need finishing and it is pretty, I'm already working on a scarf as well as starting a lace project, so that one can sit a little longer.  But Lizzy's dog sweater really should be finished.  So I pulled it out to start it up again.  Ryan wrinkled his nose, though, when I showed it to him.. he didn't think it looked girly at all, and would just look wrong on the poor girl dog.  I asked if he'd rather I start it over with a pink yarn instead, and he agreed.  Yay! Permission to go yarn shopping!  It took me a while to find the time to hit the LYS, but I eventually did, grabbing some Ella Rae superwash wool.  It's a lovely light rose color that'll make a really pretty sweater.  Project # 3.

But even that isn't enough.  Because with our last week of work before the holidays upon us, I realized I really really wanted to make a coworker a pair of fingerless gloves.  She's been super kind to me all year, and I want to show my appreciation.  And.. she's often cold in the office - soo, perfect gift.  I did some yarn store hopping this past Saturday, and while I was at one of the new ones I'd never visited before, I picked up some beautiful variegated madelinetosh in a color I think she'll like.  I spent all afternoon Saturday and much of Sunday finishing one of those gloves.  Ryan had suggested I work on her gloves first, because they were the only one that had a "deadline" (Lizzy won't have any idea which day is actually gift-giving day, so she won't mind if it's a few days late).  I had wanted to get farther on them, but I tried a new bindoff method for the ribbing that took me a try or two to nail down.  So for now - I just have the one done, and the second cast on.  Project # 4.

Heheh, so I'm a bit ambitious.  But it's energizing to know I've got such great beautiful projects just waiting to jump onto my needles and soar into their beautiful finished state.  Plus, having multiple projects means I can switch between them when I get bored with one or the other.  Both Lizzy's sweater and the almost-done-scarf will likely be welcome relaxing projects to give my hands (and brain) a rest from the massive In Dreams beaded shawl.  AND I have plenty to work on over the coming holiday break (during which we aren't traveling anywhere!).  

Friday, August 24, 2012

Primrose Path


I have a sleeve!  Just one, but one is better than none!  

I had started this project in January 2011.  I worked on it sort of steadily for about two months.  Got through the torso, and knit one sleeve.  Got to the point where I was supposed to attach that sleeve to the armhole..and slid to a skidding halt.  The sleevecap did not seem to match up to the armhole at all.  I could not figure out how in the world the two were going to match up.. and obviously I did something wrong.   I don't remember the reason, exactly, but something kept me from sitting down and focusing on it at that time.. and I put it off.  And then i think the bubble of "holy crap I screwed up and I don't know how to fix it" just kept getting bigger and I never went back.  And then it sat..and sat.. and sat.  Granted, I did take some several months off from knitting in general once summer hit.  Which kept it sitting for even longer.

Recently, while bored at work (new job that swore I wouldn't be bored.. and i'm bored..), I started perusing knitting blogs again and decided to pick up my knitting again with some serious attention.  And yesterday, I decided "I'm going to finish that sweater!"  I looked up a couple tips on armholes, watched a video or two.  And then I pulled it out and just looked at it.  Putting on the two pieces.. yeah, still had no idea how the hell they were going to match up.   But I decided, what the hell, lets just try to sew these together and see what happens.  Really really wish I'd tried that 18 months ago.  I had to do a little easing of the armhole to the sleeve, but seeing as it is a ribbed pattern that wasn't actually difficult at all.  And now - the sleeve is attached!!  Teach me to let a little thing stop me from working on a project.. I should learn to just trust the pattern and keep going.

I started work on the second sleeve last night as well, and hopefully in a few days I'll be able to attach that one as well.. and then.. the sweater will be done!!  Cuz, I mean, holy crap, how cool is that.. to be able to wear a full sweater that I knit myself!  I still really really like this one too.  Its just such a pretty color and pretty pattern.  I gotta re-research how to take care of it.  Its cotton, so i don't think it needs blocking, but I'll probably still want to take care of it gingerly as it is a hand-knitted piece.  Can't wait to wear it though.  Its inaugural wear will be as a late summer piece, rather than the early spring it was intended for.. but somehow I think that'll be okay.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Project Inspiration

Bored at work today led me to looking over long-neglected knitting blogs I follow.  Also found a few more to add to my long list of subscribed blogs.  And oh my, so much inspiration!!  This is why it is dangerous to browse knitting blogs... I'm currently plugging away at a huge afghan with no clue as to how long it is going to take me to finish (80 rows done so far and its maybe a little over a foot long?).  The reason I set it aside in the first place was a want to do other projects that were more likely to have a finish date and thus satisfaction.  And now i've done about the same amount of work as I had the first time around.. and now i'm itching to do other projects again.  Maybe it's just the curse of this afghan.. haha.  Honestly, I need to spend some time finishing up my green sweater too - its about time I get over my fear of armhole seaming.  And i've also got those two lace scarves sitting in my knitting bag, only partially done..

But... THIS!!!

You can't tell me that isn't amazing.  And somehow, I think i could do that.  I've done one lace shawl that came out really well.  And I've been wanting a pretty parasol that can go with several costumes.  I'd never thought - Hey, I can KNIT one!!  That's just too cool.  I'm going to *have* to try this.. eventually.

Edit:  This pattern is called Omelet.











I also recently bought an online class from craftsy.com that could help me with fitting my sweaters.  Not that I've made more than one sweater yet, and even that one is still in the works.  But the class includes a bit about armholes, so I'm hoping it might give me some pointers to finishing up my current sweater.  And I do *love* a lot of sweater patterns..I just get scared about the enormity of those projects.  And they always require soooo much yarn.  But i've got some stashed away for big projects.. I need to just set to those and make myself a couple more sweaters.  Practice will just help me get better.  At fitting as well as all the other techniques.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Afghanery

When I first started knitting, after doing the requisite straight scarf and attempts at small glove and hat projects, I tackled an afghan project called Lover's Knot Afghan.  It was all cables.  It was really a beautiful pattern, and it was a great way to practice this knew found skill of mine (and cables) so.. i picked up some gray cotton yarn and set to.  (Turns out, gray yarn is perhaps not the best choice for this pattern, but oh well...its a soft yarn and I'll like it anyway.)  I got about 1 full repeat in (which is about 24 rows), maybe a little more, and then said "wow..this takes forever.. i wanna do more fulfilling projects I can actually finish!" and immediately dropped it onto some scrap yarn and buried it in my yarn drawer.

Two years later...

After slowing down on my knitting a lot, no longer racing through projects like there's no tomorrow, I'm looking at my pile of unfinished pieces and deciding what to work on.  I finished up the noro scarf - very pretty.  Frogged the sluagh Ipad bag - my first attempt at self designed fair island (also my first fair island bit.. probably should have done someone else's design first, huh?) did not go so well.  Looked at the two lace scarves I had started - one red one pink - and decided I wasn't in the mood for lace yet.  What else did I have out there?  Well, there was the lime green sweater I never finished... but the only stuff i have left on that is the difficult sleeve set ins, and I'm not ready to tackle that.  What about that afghan I put off way back when??  Dig around in my drawers and pull out this beautifully soft supple afghan bit and get to work.

I had to find the program I'd used to organize the rows (the two different block sets repeat at different rows, so you have to use some sort of marker to know which row your on for which pattern.. or write the pattern completely over as a 48-row-repeat rather than a 16-row and a 24-row repeat.  Its confusing.)  I then found a better version of the program and input it better.. making it easier.  And now I'm on row 62 or so, almost triple what I'd had set aside.  Its not going to be as wide an afghan as I might would have liked, but it'll be nice enough.  And the yarn is sooo nice, I think it'll be a great cuddle blanket.  It'll just take.. y'know.. forever..to finish.  But hey, tons and tons of cable practice!!