March 28, 2005

How to prepare coned yarn

The last time I knit with coned yarn, it made my hands black and felt rough and twiney. That was fun and all, but a different fate lies in store for this batch of Harrisville Highland tweed:


Three cones of 450 yards each, for a total of 1350 yards of worsted-weight wool, easily enough for a sweater. The color is called "Raisin", and is a very warm cinnamon shade with flecks of turquoise and black. I bought them on ebay for about $25.

First, I stopped at my neighborhood yarn store and requested a "niddy-noddy". Is this not the silliest name of something? I am not sure I can go on calling it that. From here on out, let's call it the yarn-winder-thing.

The yarn-winder-thing is surprisingly easy to use. I referenced this internet tutorial, but didn't need more than a photo to figure it out. It took about 20 minutes per cone.


I tied the yarn in four places and slid it off the yarn-winder-thing. Coned yarn has some kind of oil on it that needs to be washed off to get it into optimal knitting condition. Its compressed and stringy.


From here, I washed the loose hanks of yarn. I filled the sink with warmish water and woolite and washed them in much the same way as a finished sweater. They each soaked for about a half hour or so, then were rinsed thoroughly. While rinsing, its important not to let the running water contact the yarn, because the agitation could felt it. After rinsing, I hung the three yarn hanks up in the shower to dry. It took awhile for them to dry completely, probably about 2 days. I could see an improvement even while they soaked, the yarn was visibly much fluffier. And when dry, it looked like normal wool.

The finished product:


The only downside is that they now take up a lot more room to store! Its a warm, autumnal color, so I'll probably wait until late summer until I make something from this yarn. Right now I am thinking about this sweater from Rowan Vintage Style.

July 27, 2005

Fun versus function

Last night, I arrived home from a super-successful running class to find this:


A long-awaited copy of Denim People. yay! I've had the yarn on hand to knit Raspy for over a week now and have been waiting for this to show up. I somehow thought it would be a good idea to order the book from a Amazon Marketplace seller, which saves all of $3, and took 11 days. Now I know how Stephanie feels when waiting for things in the mail :-)

I paged through it while cooking dinner, and in a post-running haze, found this sweater very very cute. Why haven't I seen this on the blogs?


The beadwork seems like it could be great fun, and that girl sure looks good. and the patterning around the neck... so nice.

But let's be honest here - am I really going to wear this?? un-likely. I can just imagine picking it up a year from now, and saying "why?".

This is the tricky thing about choosing a pattern - finding the right blend of engaging knitting + wearability. fun versus function.

Perhaps this is why some people knit soley for others.. or why there are stories of being gifted with crazy intarsia sweaters. The knitter was thinking "oooo I want to knit this.. but I'd never wear it. Maybe my niece/nephew/grandaughter/mailman will.."

We all want to feel like our knitting hobby is worthwhile, that it produces high quality, eminently wearable garments. For me, that means stockinette one-color sweaters. Maybe a little cable action. Those kind of sweaters can get pretty repetitive.

There are a couple sweaters I've been wanting to knit, held up only with questions about their wearability. Like this cabled number from Rowan Vintage Style. and Teva Durham's Ballet sweater, guaranteed to add at least 10 pounds. But I think knitting them would be great fun. and why else do I knit if not for fun?

Cabled sweater   Ballet_small.jpg

Back to Denim People, Raspy is the obvious choice for a sweater that I'll actually wear. It seems fun and somewhat irreverant with those dropped stitches, and it should be interesting to see this denim shrinking action. Raspy actually has a good mix of interesting knitting.

But in the future, I want to try knitting for others more often, and choosing patterns that are challenging, just for the challenge. I want to try to remove the "will I wear it?" question. Because its way exhausting. and I've already got running for that.

November 4, 2005

Hand Socks, a Knitalong and more

Long long ago, my third knit project ever was a pair of fingerless mitts for my friend, Karen. She calls them "hand socks". After a fine season or two of use, through an unfortunate turn of events, one hand sock was lost. Luckily, I had more yarn! (note: one skein of Cascade 220 will make 3 fingerless mitts in the smallest size, with yarn leftover)


The pattern is from Weekend Knitting. I added a little crochet edging to clean up the garter stitch edge. This is slip stitch crochet done with a hook a couple sizes larger.


I tried it on to make sure it fits. Karen's hands are smaller than mine, so it will actually have more room. I promise I didn't stretch it out!


Get this. My sister, SQ, decided she wanted to learn how to knit a braid cable. Did she consult a pattern book or the internet? nope. She sat down with yarn and needles and *figured it out*. The resulting chart is probably unlike any other cable chart you've seen. Its color-coded!

Since SQ is on cable kick, we've decided to knit Demi together. Would anyone else like to knit along? Guaranteed cabley fun! The pattern is from Rowan Vintage Style (aka "Vintage Knits") and calls for an Aran weight yarn (16sts/4" in st st). I'm knitting with Peace Fleece, and SQ is using Harrisville tweed. Leave a comment or drop me an email if you're interested. We plan to start next week, but its casual, you can start anytime in the next couple weeks.


The NY marathon is this Sunday!!! In case you're out watching the race, I'll be number 15823, going at a 10min/mile pace...or faster if all goes well. 26.2 miles, here I come!


November 9, 2005

Sleeve One

I started on a sleeve for Demi. I began with this because, well, its less daunting than the front or back.

If you follow the pattern stitch for stitch, the edge stitches create a garter border. I much prefer seaming slipped stitches, so I slipped the first and last stitches on the WS purlwise. On the RS, I knit these stiches (the pattern says to purl them I think). This shouldn't affect anything, because these stitches are going to be in the seams anyway!


I am making the XS size Demi, which is a 36" sweater. And if it turns out smaller, that's cool too. I went down a needle size to get gauge, to 7s.

There sure is a lot of knitting and purling through the back loops in this pattern. Its a 1x1 twisted rib, where the knit stitches are knit through the back loop on the RS, and then on the WS, the same stitches (now purls) are purled through the back loops. Not sure if this is serving a purpose. It does mean that the WS is softer because the knit stitches aren't all twisty.

November 19, 2005

Bobble Options

Before taking the leap into demi bobble-dom, I had to do a little testing.

11 bobbles, all 3, 4, or 5 stiches in width, differing in execution in various subtle ways:


The patten calls for a 5-stitch bobble, seen on the far right in my bobble test swatch. However, in the model images, these bobbles appear quite large.

Knowing that bobble size is inversely proportional to the likelihood of me wearing Demi, I set out to choose one *just large enough* to hold its own in the pattern.

The winner was a three stitch bobble (4th from the right above):
row 1: knit into the front, back, and front of the next stitch.
row 2: turn, and purl across the three stitches
row 3: turn, and slip 2 stitches together as if to k2tog, knit the the 3rd stitch, pass the first two stitches over the third. bobble created.

Its working quite well.


I am really getting into knitting Demi.. although it requires my full attention and doesn't allow any distractions like TV watching or conversations. This sweater is going to take awhile, but I think it will be a good time.

November 22, 2005

Deadline: Christmas

SQ has thrown down the gauntlet - Christmas is when we are aiming to finish our Demi sweaters. This way we can wear them in unison and um, swelter, because we'll be in sunny San Diego for Christmas! Maybe it will be cold enough at night...

I've got a sleeve and a half done so far and am happy to report complete chart memorization! I no longer have to reference the chart, and knitting through the back loop really seems like the only way to go. In other words, Demi has fully taken over my knitting consciousness. Its cool, no complaints.


There's been one notable error thus far: a miscrossed cable. Maybe you can see it.. its the first cross of the right cable, right next to the little blue stitch marker.


The 2-stitch side of the cable is always supposed to cross over the 1-stitch side. I reversed it by accident, and noticed it pretty much right away. I thought it was kinda cute though. 10 rows later, its cuteness wore off, and it had to go! I dropped down the stitches and recrossed the cable without undoing all the rows. That area is a little loose now, but I am the only one who knows.

November 27, 2005

Back or Front?

I am almost to the point where you bind off stitches for the armholes on Demi.. but then I started to wonder about it..

You know how on cable sweaters, the back is often the same as the front for ease of sizing? This is what the Demi pattern says to do. But would it look nicer if the back was simpler than the front?


Theoretically, this piece could be the front and I could do some less bobble-heavy cables on the back piece. I could repeat the side cables in the center of the back instead of the bobble diamond. This would require some figuring out. Is it worth it? It *would* be easier to proceed as planned with matching front and back pieces.

The sleeves do both have the diamond bobble patterns on them, and the bobbles aren't all that obtrusive. Though it might be more comfortable without them.

Its quite possible all the baked goods this weekend have led to overthinking. Any thoughts on this?

January 12, 2006

Demi closes in on the finish line

Hello knitters! My apologies for being out of touch; work is to blame. You know when people say "I am so busy at work.. etc etc" as an excuse for not having enough time? I used to think that this was a convenient way of getting out of things, but not really valid. Its possible I may have been mistaken. possible. Anyway, one deadline met (mostly!), who knows how many to go, and the knitting goes on.

Demi is quite close to being done. Obviously, she wasn't finished for Christmas, because I didn't work on Demi for nearly the whole of December. However, SQ's finished sweater was quite motivating.


Check out how the diamond pattern ends right at the collar on the front! It took some knitting trickery to get this to happen. After finishing the front the first time, I noticed the shoulder shaping started a inch or two higher than the back, so took that opportunity to rip back a few rows and line up the front collar with the top of diamond.

The collar is in progress, to be followed shortly by all sorts of seaming.


January 25, 2006

Buttons and a new blog

ok, SQ! After many requests from my inquiring sister, here is a photo of the nearly-finished Demi:


Demi is not *totally* done; I still need to sew on the buttons. before that, I need to purchase some buttons. Then we will see the true complete Demi.

After spending a good half hour in M&J buttons the other day, I still managed to buy the wrong ones. I got some dead boring greenish ones that match, but Demi deserves interesting. Perhaps I will go back for the ones made from cow's toenails. (they were cool-looking, really)

Did you see I designed Blossom's new home for whispering pine? Quite happy with the final design. I love doing blog designs; especially custom ones that fit the author. do check it out!

January 26, 2006

Demi, really and truly complete

I am pleasantly surprised at how nicely Demi cleans up with the addition of buttons along the left shoulder. Previously, it looked like the shoulder piece was too long and the neckline inexplicably funky. Add the buttons and it all comes together.


Project Details:

Pattern: Demi from Rowan Vintage Style

Yarn: Peace Fleece Worsted in Ancient Fern, 5 and a half skeins for the XS size. The peace fleece is really soft and warm; I'd recommend it for this sweater.

Needles: Size 7 addi turbos; Size 6 for the ribbing. This was one size down from the recommended needle size, and resulted in a bit tighter fabric.

Modifications: knit the sleeves and body a bit longer, trickery to get the front diamond to line up with the collar


and, after deliberation, I kept the diamond pattern on the back. I thought that removing the diamonds with bobbles on the back of the sweater would further emphasize the front motif, and I'd rather have a sweater that is the same on all pieces. Its not uncomfortable or anything.


The sides have this interesting cable action that converges at the seam. It might look even better if I had blocked the sweater. I didn't block it because it didn't look like it needed it. Maybe I'll steam the sides.


The buttons are a relative of the aforementioned cow's hoof buttons. The cow's hoof ones are translucent and shiny like shells, with the same wavy texture as these. I had no idea that buttons were so important, but am glad I went back and got these ones, even though it was $20 for 5 of them.

Demi is easily the warmest sweater I own. I've been wearing it in the evenings for about a week now. I am happy with the final result. Its not a fast knit by far, and I might not be done if it wasn't for SQ's encouragement.

Demi knitters, keep on knitting! Its worth it!



diana AT streetsandyos DOT com