dusktreader knits

December 2, 2010

You can tell I’m excited about knitting again when

Filed under: Projects — Tags: , — dusktreader @ 5:25 pm
  1. I let myself get way too hungry because I keep thinking “just one more row” before I get up to eat.
  2. Ditto with not getting enough sleep.
  3. I start a new, complicated, time-consuming project even though I’ve  got so many others to finish.
  4. My wrists ache.

Since my last entry I’ve made a pair of leg warmers for roller derby. They’re alright. They serve their purpose, which is to keep my ankles warm while I’m on my way to derby practice in the cold weather. But that’s not what I’m excited about. I’m excited about this. A lace advent scarf. It started on December 1st, and there’s a new section revealed every day until Christmas.

There are many reasons why I should not be knitting this scarf. Aside from those outlined above, I have a very busy couple of weeks coming up. I haven’t finished making my (non-knitted) Christmas presents for my family yet. I don’t have enough yarn for the full pattern, so I’m cutting it in half doing math every day to make the number of stitches make sense with the stitch pattern repeat. I don’t need another scarf.

But. But. I get to use this fabulous Fleece Artist Sea Wool that I love. I’ve had it for 2 years now and it needs to be used. And it will make such a pretty scarf. And I love knitting along with people from all over the world. Plus! December 1st was a Wednesday this year, and Wednesday is the night I have my knitting group. It was meant to be.

The first section of the 2010 advent scarf

The first section. I'm using smal needles, so I'll have to block it before the yarnovers become noticeable. The little triangles will look like Christmas trees.

My Ravelry project page. For anyone who’s interested in the math or seeing my progress day by day.

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April 2, 2010

A little bit of Knistory*

Sorry about the bad play on words, but I’m a feminist, and if there’s one thing feminists like, it’s portmanteaus made from the word history.**  My seafoam scarf.

Lately I’ve been working on my Deep in the Forest mittens. I finished the first one and am about halfway through the second one. It’s slow-going, on small needles, constantly consulting the chart and mixing up which row I’m on. It’s great that I’m working toward one of my 2010 goals–at this rate I’ll be able to wear them in the fall!–but it does not make for compelling knit-blogging.

So I’m going to tell you a little bit of my own personal knitting history. To the left is a picture of one of my favorite knitted objects: my seafoam scarf. It’s made using seafoam stitch in a blue hemp yarn. I’ve worn it for years and it still looks good. But it’s my favorite because it took me so long to figure out the stitch pattern.

From the minute I first saw the seafoam stitch, my first year of knitting, I knew I wanted to make a blue scarf using it. I’d just moved to Vancouver and fallen in love with living by the ocean, and I loved the dropped stitch effect. I bought some navy blue 100% wool and tried to learn the pattern. But I was new, and I didn’t understand the yarn over. For some reason I thought that making a yarn over included making a knit stitch right after. So every time I saw yo k1 in a pattern, I would move the yarn forward, knit a stitch, and then knit another stitch. It didn’t work out so well, and I was getting frustrated, so I put it aside and worked on something else for a few months. When I finally figured out the mechanics of a yarn over (the knit stitch is not included! Only make a knit stitch after a yarn over when the pattern instructs you to) I decided to try again. But I hadn’t figured out how to make multiple yarn overs in a row. I had to put it aside again. I eventually used the yarn to make a fishtail scarf which is actually still in process several years later. (Every now and then I knit a few rows on it when I’m not feeling inspired by anything else, but I’m not very excited about the scarf itself.)

I didn’t buy the hemp yarn intending to make the seafoam scarf with it: I bought it because hemp yarn was fairly new back then and I wanted to try it out. (I love it, by the way: it’s very light, and it’s smoothness is good for making lacy projects look fancy and elegant. I have a skinny black scarf made from hemp that I used to wear with a black dress if I was going out somewhere nice. And it wears well, getting softer as it gets used.) I forget when exactly I figured out that you can make multiple yarnovers by wrapping the yarn around the needle instead of just bringing the yarn to the front of the work before knitting the next stitch. But almost as soon as I did, I knew that I could finally make my scarf. And I knew that I could figure out anything in knitting if I had enough patience and time. I’ve said it before, but one thing I really like about knitting is that there’s always something new to learn when you’re ready.

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*Note the difference between kn-(h)istory, and knit-story; the former is a play on history, the latter on story. This post has nothing to do with the Knitstory link I posted a few weeks ago.

**We also like gender equity.

February 20, 2010

Knitting goals 2010 check in

Filed under: Projects — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — dusktreader @ 11:55 am

So, um, yeah… when I set knitting goals for myself, I mostly treat them as a loose structure for my knitting year, not hard and fast rules. If I get excited about something that’s not on the list I will probably just make it. I find it’s best to just go with the flow rather resist: more knitting gets done in the end. The goals serve as something for me to return to when I don’t know what to knit or am feeling extra ambitious.

Naturally I’ve already tinkered with them. I want to knit a tam. I have avoided knitting them in the past because I just assumed they would look funny on me, but I see them a lot in Halifax and I changed my mind. They look good on all kinds of people, and they especially look good paired with the kind of long coat I have. Tams ahoy.

Also, I need to knit a case for my poor little ipod. When I got it OVER A YEAR AGO I named it “Knit Me A Case” to remind me to DO IT and so far I haven’t. And it would take me, I don’t know, maybe two hours tops, probably less. So I should JUST DO IT.*

The mitten: just need to knit a few more thumb rows.

The thumb in progress.

I have been working toward some of the goals though. Today I finished the hand on the first Deep in the Forest Mitten, and am now on the thumb. I have been working on another scarf in the scarf series, but I can’t say much about that because I am submitting it for publication (!) and it wouldn’t be eligible if I blogged about it (if it doesn’t get published I will of course share it with you). I have been working on the Crazy Cat Cave, and I just need to bind off and knit the i-cord which will be the case for the wire.

I’ve been feeling a little scattered lately. Too many projects on the go, too many that I’m itching to start. I have a bit more time on my hands in the next week or so, so I’m going to use it to get refocused, finish the projects that are just about done, and not start any new ones. It’s normal for this time of year. In January I get so excited to start new things after finishing all my Christmas gifts that I usually get fibre myopia and only knit for the whole month. In February it tapers off a bit. (The mittens above were started toward the end of last January when I was in a similiar transition between OMG KNITTING YAY and HEY MAYBE OTHER THINGS EXIST).

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*No sports allusions intended. Stop thinking about sports!

February 4, 2010

2010 Knitting Goals: In With the New

Filed under: Projects — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — dusktreader @ 7:07 pm

Part 2 of my knitting goals for the year comes with exciting sub-categories:

I want one! I want one!

  • A cowl. I am a chilly person. We get some chilly weather  here in NS. Haven’t decided what pattern yet.
  • Another hat. I am tired of wearing the same hat every day. I have one on the needles almost done, but I suspect I will also tire of wearing one of 2 hats every day.
  • A smitten. Because I am a dork. And because if the boy forgets his gloves, he shoves his hand into one of my gloves and it stretches them out.
  • Mittens that make iphone browsing in cold weather a bit better. I’ve seen convertible gloves/mittens, and mittens with a little hole for your thumbs to pop out. Not sure which one yet.

Gifts

  • It’s a secret
  • It’s a secret
  • It’s a secret
  • It’s a secret
  • It’s a secret

Designed by me

  • At least 3 more scarves in the scarf series. I have the ideas in my head, and I’m testing out one now.
  • The crazy cat cave. I’m half-way through test-knitting one. I want to write this one up as a pattern.
  • And a more general goal: keep designing. At this point I have all kinds of ideas floating around in my head. Some I’ll be able to accomplish as soon as I can get yarn to needle. Others will probably take more figuring, learning, sketching, charting, testing, frogging, giving up, going back to. And I’m not sure which designs fall into which category yet. So it’s hard to set a goal that I don’t know if I have the skills to do yet or not. But I’ve just got to keep going.

No…. problem!

February 2, 2010

2010 Knitting Goals: Out With the Old

Filed under: Projects — Tags: , , , , , , , — dusktreader @ 9:41 am

It’s February 2nd! Time to pull a hog out of the ground and ask it to make you some resolutions.

Something like that?

I’m a little late on my knitting resolutions, but that’s allowed. I don’t believe in making them arbitrarily, and at the beginnng of January, I just wasn’t ready. But I’ve figured out what I want over the next year or so. And if I write them down and then publish them on the Internet*, and bury some yarn under a crossroads at the full moon, they come true right?

Something like that.

Part 1: Out With the Old

I have… rather a lot of projects currently on the go. Especially if by “on the go” we can interpret “in my closet, in a suitcase,” or “I’m not sure where it is but I know I’ve seen it since we moved.” I have so many that I am not even going to try to finish all of them in 2010. But I’ve carefully selected a few achievable goals that won’t put too much of a damper on my excitement to start new projects:

  • Finish the cardigan I’ve been working on for 2+ years. All I have left is the hood, side seams and zipper. And I had a revelation the other day while I was at the bus stop, staring at someone else’s hood and noting the construction. I don’t need a hood. I’ve never liked hoods, they interfere with my peripheral vision. (Boo!) I’ll just knit a few inches to make one of those collars that folds over, it’ll be fine. And with that resolution, I can face dragging it out again! Finished by fall.
  • Finish my Deep in the Forest mittens. They’re beautiful, and I’m looking forward to wearing them, but I can only work on them a little bit at a time. The stitch pattern doesn’t repeat, so it’s hard to get a rhythm going, and I have to constantly check my work against the chart instead of the row I just knit. But they will be beautiful and I will finish in time to wear them next winter.*
  • Remember that handmade items facebook meme? Where you post something promising to make handmade items for the first 5 people who comment on your post? I posted it last March. I will finish the items by this March.
  • Bind off and weave in the ends of the travelling scarf project I did. Because it was an awesome fun project (you knit a section of a scarf, send it to the next person in your group, they knit a section, etc. At the end you’ve knit 13 sections of 13 scarves and you have one of your very own, the one you started.
  • Okay, this is a big one and I think doing it will show my maturity as a knitter. Frog the cotton tank top that I started in 2004. Cotton was not the right yarn for the project, there are a few holes where I didn’t join the new ball in properly, and I am nowhere near the same size as I was back then. I could be using that yarn for something else. Or trading it for something good. FROG IT. FROG IT I SAY.

Part 2 coming soon!

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*I read somewhere that you capitalize Internet not because it’s a novelty but because it’s a place. Makes sense to me.

**note the wishy-washy loophole I left there: I don’t have to finish ther by the beginning of next winter as long as I can still wear them at some point next winter. The last day of winter is March 20th. I have over a year.

January 16, 2010

Experiments in Design: Scarf 2.0

Filed under: Projects — Tags: , , , , , — dusktreader @ 6:14 pm

Here’s my latest finished object, a bow-knot scarf:

Blue and yellow scarf

I used this project to experiment with some design practice.  I plan to make a whole series of mini scarves like this, experimenting with size, shape, stitch pattern, construction and anything else I can vary. At the end, I’ll have gotten to know the pattern inside and out, and have a series of fashionable accessories to keep me warm at work. Win.

(I’m going to get pretty heavy into the technical details here, so if that’s not your thing, feel free to ooh and ah over the photos and move along.)

I wanted something more complicated than a regular rectangular scarf to practice on, and less complicated than a sweater which has more than one piece, needs to fit much more precisely, and would take too long to be really helpful for my learning experience. I started by finding a very basic pattern to use as a jumping off point, and making it without any changes of my own so I’d understand exactly what I was doing when I made my own customizations. This is version 1.0:

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The pattern is all done in garter-stitch and is a simple, quick knit. I then tried to reimagine it as many ways as I could. For my first attempt, the most major change I made was using a different stitch pattern. I’ve substituted stitch patterns before, and for some patterns it can be a really simple change with hardly any reworking necessary. For this one, I had to figure out how to make the increases and decreases while keeping the stitch pattern: you can’t just do it as is or the edges will look uneven due to the extra stitch you’re throwing in there.

What I changed:

  • The stitch pattern: I wanted something in two colours, so I went with a two-colour slip-stitch pattern from my Vogue stitch dictionary. I maintained two stitches at each edge as a selvage stitch in order to accommodate for the increases and decreases at each end of the scarf.
  • Instead of dividing up the stitches and placing half on a stitch holder to make the loop, I decreased the stitches by half, made the first side of the loop, and then picked up the stitches from the base and knit the other side of the loop. The effect is pretty much the same as far as finished product, but I wanted to see which one I liked better. I think I like this way because I don’t mind picking up stitches and this meant less time working with stitches on a stitch holder, which can be awkward.
  • I made the loop shorter, because the ribbed loop on my first scarf stretched quite a bit vertically, became too big, and looked uneven. This stitch pattern probably won’t stretch as much, but I still thought it could be smaller.
  • I realized as I was going that the ribbing was there not just for stretchiness, but also skinniness. The skinny part makes a nice notch for the scarf to hitch on so that the loop doesn’t slide around. So I had to increase the stitches after the loop was made by a few to get a wider body on the scarf and acheive the same effect. No biggie.

What I learned:

  • The stitch pattern is reversible! It didn’t absolutely have to be for this project, since the wrong side isn’t meant to show, but I found wearing the first scarf that it does show at some points. And I just love reversible stitch patterns, and since stitch dictionaries often don’t indicate which stitches are reversible, I love discovering them.
  • This is an interesting pattern, in that you knit it one way (bottom to top) but the stitches will be worn both horizontally and vertically. The ends are worn vertically, the same direction as when you’re knitting. But the part that goes around your neck is worn horizontally, perpendicular to the way it was knit. It’s therefore important to choose a stitch pattern that looks good both ways. This got me thinking about all kinds of stitches that would look good when turned sideways after they were knit. There may be some sideways-knit scarves in my future. This one looks really good sideways:
  • Close-up of blue and yellow scarfI like the crooked vertical lines that travel up, a feature that isn’t as noticeable when viewed as it’s originally knit.

What I would do differently:

  • Find a more camoflauged way to pick up stitches for the loop. I don’t mind the pinched effect, but it doesn’t match the other side since there are no stitches picked up there.
  • Consider using a yarnover as an increase stitch for a more decorative border.
  • Make the loop and corresponding notch on the other side a tad longer: It isn’t long enough and that pulls on the neck, making it bunch a little bit instead of laying flat across my neck. It does stay on better than version 1.0, however.

I think it turned out pretty well, all considered. The two ends are different sizes–somehow my tension changed from one end to the other–so I’ll have to block it.

Version 3.0 will feature a change in the shape of the two ends, and possibly be tied instead using the loop construction.

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