Sunday, November 28, 2004

fair isle charts

I'm still visiting my parents so I haven't been knitting a whole lot but I did knit up a gauge swatch and draw a few charts. Here is my design (rough draft) for the back of the mitten:

...which looks kinda cool solarized (photoshop filter):

Last night I spent an hour studying the beautiful Fair Isle sweater in front of us at church (and cursed myself for leaving my specs at home). Mom found a pencil and paper so I could sketch out my favorite pattern exactly, the only one I could see clearly. I later charted it on graph paper:

Click here to see a larger scan of the same chart (will open in new window).

The background was black, the curved lines were pink, the horizontal line down the middle (squares with X) was celery green, and the squares with circles in them represent white. The other repeating Fair Isle patterns were also a strange mish-mash of colors, it was the craziest cacophony of color I've seen that actually worked.

Maus asked about the blue dye used on the RH wool (see previous post). I believe those shades were all achieved using RIT teal dye. The lightest blue started out as white wool. It was left in the shortest amount of time and it was the last hank to be dyed so the color was nearly exhausted when it went in. The darker colors were left in the dye cauldron much longer and they were originally light blue wool. Experienced dyers look down on RIT for various reasons, one being the issue of color fastness. I'm guessing RIT dyes should be OK for things that aren't washed very often like wool mittens and hats. (And when those are washed they are merely soaked in water, not machine washed.) I figure the mittens will wear out or be lost before the colors fade so I'm not worried about it. I don't expect everything I make to last for 50+ years. Acid dyes are better of course, no argument there.

Today I will be going thrifting while my parents attend the Seahawks game, too bad Linda's Knit n Stitch is closed on Sundays.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

gobble gobble

I'm heading off tomorrow for Thanksgiving with my parents so I'll leave the shawl at home -- I'd rather mom not see it in the ugly adolescent unblocked stage. (Just finished the 16th repeat, I can finally see the light at the end of the carpal tunnel.) Instead I'll work on xmas mittens down there using this:

That's Red Heart vintage wool dyed various shades of blue and teal. I don't plan to use all the colors at once, there's a little too much clashing going on, but a pair of mittens using two shades of blue with white should be fine. Every so often I find RH wool at thrift shops and it always comes home with me. Don't confuse the quality of Red Heart acrylic (blech) with their wool of yesteryear, this wool is great stuff.

Hat: I finished this in October and forgot to take a photo of it.

That's worked in Brown Sheep Nature Spun using a modified pattern from Hats On. Alert readers will think "Um, isn't this the 10th time she's made that blasted hat?" Almost. People keep asking me to make one and so far everyone who has asked is someone I love dearly. I've promised one more using this pattern and that's IT.

I can't explain why exactly but I swoon whenever I open my white wool bin. Maybe it's the dyeing potential that thrills me? 98% of this (most of it is hidden under the top layer, this is a deep bin) was purchased at a thrift store, either in sweater form and then unravelled or in sacks of donated yarn. That might sound gross but I'm really picky about what I buy second hand so this wool is all very high quality, clean, and soft.

I love you white wool bin.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Unblocked lace is ugly

Lace sure is ugly until it's blocked. In this photo you can clearly see where the beginning of the shawl was already blocked (see Nov 4th post). Meg Swansen compares unblocked lace to a dishrag, so very true.


I'm just now finishing the 14th repeat of chart #2. It looks small in its shriveled up state but I don't want it to be too big so I'll pin it out after 16 repeats to see if it's time to start the edging. There are other things that need to be done in time for Christmas mailings but I'm obsessed with finishing this shawl first.

Li commented: I buy my beads in Fairhaven at the Bead Bazaar

Aha! That's a great little shop, it has been in that same location for ages -- well, a long time for a small craft based business. I remember buying beads there in 1991/92 -- I wonder how long it had been open at that point? I'm thinking about adding delicate silver beads to this shawl, on all the edging points (it's an option in the pattern). If you like peanut butter try the peanut butter pie at the Colophon (one slice is enough for two or three people). I still need to check out the new Village Books.

Jessica asked: Are you making up that cobweb lace pattern?

I'm using the Leaf Lace pattern from Fiber Trends again. It's written so you can use any weight yarn. You always start with 2 sts (at the neck) regardless of the yarn so you stop when it seems the right size and then add the edging. I always get a little thrill when someone else says they like Lone Star, what a movie!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Book Review: Arans & Celtics

I recently borrowed Arans & Celtics from the library, the latest in the XRX Best of Knitter's magazine series. I noticed a few gems that were missing but maybe they're holding those patterns back for a volume 2.

There was one standout pattern I almost missed because I was so disturbed and distracted by a bobbly sweater ("Bobbled Braids") and quickly turned the page. (Anything with bobble in the name is a good clue there are way too many of the beasties cluttering up the design.) I noticed the small picture of the "Refined Aran" rear view and backed up a page to see the full page photograph. It's a winner all right, and I'm not normally impressed by vests. I love the gauge (7 sts/in) and the cables are both delicate and intricate without being too busy. If I were to knit anything from this book "Refined Aran" would be my first choice. The "Irish Moss" cardigan is also lovely.

Would I buy the book? At $19.95 it isn't a bad price but I have so many projects lined up I can't justify buying it right now. I'm thankful my library has it and for now that's good enough for me.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

shawl progress report

Monday morning I went to the thrift shop and found an 8 ounce cone of Harrisville Tweed in True Blue, that's about 1,000 yards of fingering weight wool. $2.99! Actually it only cost $1.99 because at the register a friendly gentleman handed the cashier a dollar to help pay for it. He probably thought I looked pathetic counting out quarters.

Still working on mom's shawl, still not sure if it'll be done in time for christmas, still on chart #2. Nine repeats down, nine more to go. That makes it sound like I'm halfway done but not really, each 10 row repeat adds 20 stitches to the total stitch count. Right now there are 247 sts per row and by the end of the 18th repeat there will be 427 sts on the needle. I hope 18 repeats is enough! The good news is that chart #3 (14 rows) and chart #4 (1 row) only have to be worked once.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

knitting with cobwebs

Here's the variegated socks I finished last month, finally got around to taking a photo. Same basic pattern on the same size 0 Addi circular -- it's a rut but it works:

Rainbow in a blender? They don't look as garish in person and once the foot is hidden in the shoe they're actually rather tame. Or so I keep telling myself. ;) I've decided to avoid buying variegated yarn from now on, unless it's monochromatic or it stripes.

I started another shawl, this time for my mom. The yarn is super fine laceweight merino wool. It isn't cobweb (that single ply wool used for Shetland wedding ring shawls), but it does feel as if I am knitting with cobwebs. I've used laceweight yarn before and this is even thinner than that. I am not crazy about working with this yarn but I'm determined to finish. Who knows if it will be done in time for Christmas but it's not a cold weather shawl, it'd be more appropriate for her birthday (late March) or a Mother's Day gift.

Last night I blocked out what I've done so far just to be sure it looks OK before devoting more time to it:

I'm not wild about it but it should look nice when it's all done and I like the way it drapes. Mom will love it no matter what, she's that kind of mom. This pale green is SO her color too, it is beautiful on her. I looked through magazines and books for a different pattern but the only other shawls I like that use laceweight yarn are circles or squares and they call for 500-1,000 more yards than what I have here.

I'm tempted to halt this shawl for now and make Highland Triangle from Folk Shawls, I might be able to find a sweater to unravel that will give me enough sport or DK yarn for it. I also really like the Fir Cone Square from the same book, that's on my "must knit" list. The Wool Peddler's shawl is good looking too, though the garter stitch section is a bit plain (but good for warmth).