Saturday, December 29, 2007

Color Me Happy

My hat and fingerless gloves are done and I couldn't be happier. I must say this alpaca yarn is a delight to wear. The hat is warm and soft, and so light you almost forget you have it on. The gloves are the same. Two skeins almost did it all, but I had to use a small bit of a third. That means the hat and gloves weighs just over 100 grams. No wonder these Alpaca critters are so popular. I did get a lot of practice picking up stitches on the hat using double points. I still have my old metal needles and this soft yarn and a lot of stitches led to the obvious result of stitches sliding off the ends. I've had enough practice ! Time to look for more of those nice bamboo circular needles.

Now the question is , would a scarf be too much? Can I stand that much luxury? I wore the hat and gloves yesterday and they are toasty. Of course here in upstate New York, January and February can be FRIGID. I think I'll risk it.

Christmas Present

One of my favorite presents at Christmas is the yarn that I get from my beautiful, very busy daughter. She visits her local yarn shop and picks out some luscious yarn that she wishes she had time to work with. It's great for me because it adds something gorgeous to my stash with absolutely no guilt . This year she gave it to me wrapped in the shop bag. I love the name of the store, "Knit and Be Happy". Those are words to live by. The yarn is Lifestyle, one of those magical sock yarns. Now let me see, where did I put that sock pattern? For now, these interesting balls of yarn will look great sitting around in a nice basket. I'm sure Martha Stewart would approve.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Boots are just the beginning

Who thought that a pair of wild raspberry boots could lead to so much? First let me say I LOVE these boots! They give winter in upstate New York a new feel like no black or brown boots ever could. I'm proud to say that I didn't go out and get a new coat to go with these Land's End Overstock boots, BUT I did order luscious Plymouth Baby Alpaca Brush yarn for gloves , hat and scarf. Of course since I was ordering anyway, some more Galway in colors I needed for Undersea bags was a given. We won't discuss how much these bargain boots have cost me so far. I still LOVE them!!!

Now to start with the gloves. Let me say I knitted a pair of fingerless gloves in alpaca before and they are the best! Since I never started my knitters notebook,( You know the one we should keep with yarn , pattern , needle size etc. so we can repeat something if we want to.) [2008 Knitter's Resolution # 1] I had to find a new pattern. I'm using a pattern that I found online at Interweave Knits. It's called Progressive Gloves.

The directions are given to adjust size according to your gauge. So far I'm impressed. As it happens my hand is exactly the size of the sample. The knitting you see is the beginning of a glove." Why should I do a round with 28 stitches" I thought. "After all Elizabeth Zimmerman says to check your gauge with a hat." I have to try a needle size smaller on this piece to see if the gauge is correct. If not, I will follow the directions!

I think this pattern is a good place to try your wings at making something based on your gauge. You will hear more about this later.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Grass is Greener !

I had some time to sit and wait so I grabbed the green Galway and some Foxy that I had around. I know, I know another bag, but I knit according to my moods. The bag turned out so much like grass(the lawn kind!) that I did an six stitch I cord woolly bear to hang out on it. I used Fun Fur and had to give him a haircut because he was way too woolly! I sewed him onto a pin back. After all he may want to move around the grass a bit.

It's right about now that I usually think I will stop knitting until after the holidays. Don't bet the farm on it! If I'm sittin, I'm knittin.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Dragon Fire

I did the back! I often wondered why most patterns start with the back. Now I know. It’s so you can work out the kinks before you get to the front. There the dinosaur is, in all his glory. I know he’s a dinosaur, a stegosaurus, to be exact, but I refer to him as the “dragon” since we both seem to breathe fire at each other. The pattern calls for some handwork, embroidery, on the beast to fill in the feet, mouth, eye, and some design work on the body. But that comes later. It’s actually called “finishing work”.
I reached the neck shaping and realized that I didn’t have the right number of stitches. Remember, I had started out to use the other pattern with this design, due to the gauge problem. Then I switched to the original pattern during the stripes. Of course, the number of stitches to be bound off and decreased didn’t add up to what I had so I did what I think is a ratio. I put the number I had (which was smaller) over the number the pattern should have had (which was larger) and I divided. I then used this number (which was a decimal) to multiply the number of stitches the pattern wanted me to use and after much rounding off I made it come out to within one stitch! (I just added that on) It looks like the picture but now I have to remember to do all of this on the front and then on the sleeve shaping. Flames! Huge flames are coming out of his mouth!
I did learn something about intarsia though. One has to look a row ahead to see where the color dropped is going to be picked up. If it’s further along the row, it has to be carried along to there. If it is back some, it has to be carried as you are moving back. I have many too many strands in the back of the beast. One day I’ll show you a picture of that, but not now. It’s just too discouraging.
He’s sort of neat though, isn’t he?Now I have to do it all over again for the front! Only with a different number of rows and a different bind off so there will be more ratios to do (if they are ratios).

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Intarsia Gauge

I owed my grandson a birthday sweater. I actually knitted one but he has moved from baby patterns to older kid patterns. Sweater patterns have directions for the smallest size and then, in parenthesis, follow the numbers for the next 3 or 4 larger sizes. I am so used to counting over three spaces because he was wearing the biggest size on the baby pattern. So, clever person I am, I automatically counted over three spaces and made him a sweater that will fit him when he graduates from high school,
Undaunted, I ordered more yarn. I chose Red-Heart super saver, a great stand-by for a kid’s sweater and when I got the yarn, I proceeded to make swatches. The yarn felt sort of like brillo. I’m sure, if I had made a sweater from it, it would have stood up by itself. So I looked around and found the company now has a yarn called Red-Heart soft and it is pretty much the same price but it comes in very few colors. I ordered it. It felt good. Swatches were great. But, they didn’t work with the pattern. Why isn’t all worsted weight yarn the same gauge?
A word about pattern books; they are usually sponsored by a yarn company and all the patterns are knitted using that company’s yarn. This one was sponsored by Rowan, a lovely yarn. One skein of the required yarn, only 100 yards per skein, cost over $8.00. One skein of 240 yards of the Red-Heart was $2.89. I love my grandsons but kids tend to finger paint in whatever they are wearing. When they eat, most of what falls off the fork, lands on the sweater. The sleeves are used as napkins. $8.00 per skein (and the pattern called for 5 colors) was really not an option.
What to do? Figure out what the stitch and row count for the yarn I had would be by using a calculator. Simple. Of course, one has to know whether to multiply or divide and what numbers to use for either of these. I found several formulas in several books. I didn’t understand any of them. Above is a picture of the notebook pages I used trying to figure out my gauge.
I had just gotten a great book by Ann Budd called the knitter's handy book of sweater patterns and, since I’ve been using only top down in the round sweaters, I picked a pattern which is called drop shouldered and everything is rectangular or triangular so even I could sew the sleeves on.
I began knitting away and discovered that, though I had worked on stitch count, I hadn’t paid much attention to the row count. The pattern had a bunch of stripes on the bottom and then an intarsia chart above. The pattern I was using started with the back of the sweater and the front had to have 14 fewer rows. I measured and saw that the way I was going, the sweater was going to reach his knees. Eventually I realized I was making just too many changes at one time. So I decided to go with the pattern from the original book using just the math for the gauge changes. That means set in sleeves. O.K. I’m up for this.
I had already knitted all the stripes and realized I had to take out three sets of them, 18 rows. Actually did it and now I’m up to the dinosaur chart. Someday I want to be a “fine” knitter. I have realized it will require much “frogging”. That’s al right with me, whatever it takes.
When I actually complete this sweater, I have to do the whole process again for his younger brother’s sweater. I think I can use the pattern from the Budd book because all I have to do is put the Superman symbol on it. Oh, and his mom would like it to have a hood. But think of all I will have learned! If you hear a scream tonight, off in the distance, it’s me, trying to knit a dragon and come out with only 92 rows including an extra 14 rows before the neck shaping.
. . . Neck shaping?