Monthly Archives: June 2010

Really, I swear

I promise I am still knitting. Despite the rather disturbing fact that it has been over a month since I had a Finished Object (a realization which is leaving me just a little bit nutty, let me tell you), I have actually been getting in a fairly consistent level of knitting in. I’ve also got several projects in progress in various states of unfinished-ness, which is also contributing to the nuttiness. I’m starting to twitch a bit. I need finished things. FINISHED. COMPLETE. ACHIEVED.

June25-BridgewaterEdge

The Bridgewater shawl, I have decided, is going to be my focus until it gets done. I am now (thankfully) on the lace chart for the edging and am committed to doing several rows a day. Mind you, when every row now takes a minimum of 20 minutes, this is not a small commitment. But I will do it. It’s just (hah, “just”, she says) the rest of this lace chart and then an edging, and then the glorious moment of blocking will be MINE. The blocking is the goal. It’s like the cheering finish line at the end of the race.

Some times I think knitting is a battle between the desire for instant gratification and the desire to have really really beautiful things. I am not sure those two camps overlap a great deal, to be honest. So until then, I will have to remind myself that making beautiful things is rarely instantaneous, and knit accordingly.

And then I’m going to knit really quick pair of gloves.

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But you’ll still need a tray

I am still knitting socks. Navy blue, men’s size 12 stockinette socks. And also knitting a lace border with approximately eleventy million stitches (well okay, only a little over 600 at the moment, but close enough). And it occurred to me that there might still be one or two people out there who haven’t seen the Eddie Izzard videos done with Lego.

And if you haven’t, well, that just needs to be corrected. Enjoy.

Next time, I hope to have worked a few more 600+ rows on the shawl to show you. Until then!

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Picking up

Earlier this week, I happily completed the centre garter stitch section of the Bridgewater shawl, decreasing all the way to the top point of the square. It was great.

June17-BridgewaterEdge

Now all I have to do is pick up approximately eleventy million stitches around the edge, and then I can start the lace edging. I’m going to guess that means I’ll be starting the lace edging, oh, some time in July. Or, perhaps just a few days. The yarn (Wellington Fibres mohair/wool 2-ply laceweight) is very, very lucky to be so pretty, I wouldn’t do this for just any skein.

I hope you’re knitting something awesome, folks!

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Filed under lace

There and back

I spent this past weekend on a family trip to Edmonton, for the occasion of my grandfather’s 95th birthday. There was much visiting, and of course a party with several relatives – most of my relatives from my father’s side of the family still live in that area. It was a pretty good time, and Grandpa is doing very well as a 95-year-old. Let’s all try to be so lucky, no?

June14-Cake

June14-Family

We managed to sneak in some time to visit some yarn shops – namely, River City Yarns, which has two locations. I’d looked up the Downtown location, and we visited there first, only to discover that the South side location was actually infinitely closer to my aunt’s house, and so we visited that spot too.

June14-RiverCityDowntown2

The two locations have some stock in common but differ in others. I think I liked the South location a bit more, purely for yarn selection purposes (I was rather taken by the Lorna’s Laces selection, and the beautiful displays of Louet yarns), but staff in both locations were friendly and helpful.

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June14-RiverCitySouth2

While in Edmonton I managed to knit sock #1 of the pair I’m working on for my grandfather (2.5mm needles, 76 sts, for a man’s Size 12 foot – erk), and I’ll carry on with that this week along with the Bridgewater shawl, which happily now has a complete garter stitch section for the middle.

Onwards with the week! Happy knitting as usual.

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Filed under knitting in public, knitting tourism, real life miscellaney

In which I talk about yarnovers

So, as we covered last time, I am in recovery from learning that I have been working my yarnovers (YO, also alternately indicated as “yarn forward” or “yf” – remember that, it’ll come in handy later) incorrectly, and dudes, it is a long damned time since I learned a knitted thing that changed my perception of what I was doing so distinctly. You can never have so much experience you can’t still occasionally feel like a beginner. Since my Yarnover Epiphany I have also since learned I am not the only one who has had this experience, something which eases my embarrassment like crazy.

Anyhoo, yarnovers. Let’s do this with some photos and you can figure out for yourself if a) you’ve been doing it right all along and can now sit a little bit taller in your chair knowing this, or b) you’ve been doing it wrong too and can come comiserate me with a stiff drink, or c) you have no idea what yarnovers are and are just here for some online procrastination. No matter.

Yarnovers are pretty much the cornerstone of lace in knitted form, I’d hazard to say. Heck, as Steph’s recent poll so soundly indicated, you make lace by putting holes in your knitting on purpose. Said holes generally get accomplished by combining YOs with decreases in various combinations. And it looks super pretty.

June10-YOswatch2

I’ll explain with the aid of some photos here, first by showing you how I have been doing it, and then by showing you the way it is actually meant to be done.

When you are creating a yarnover, you are wrapping the yarn around the needle to create a loop. When you work that loop on the next row, it leaves a nice little lacy hole behind. Let’s assume that we are about to work a “yo, k2tog” step on this little swatch, below. Let’s also assume that we are starting with the yarn in the position as if to knit – yarn held in back of work.

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Next, what I have been doing is wrapping the yarn around the needle from the back, around the front of the needle…

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And then working the K2tog right afterwards…

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…and as a result you get a loop that looks like this from the front of the work (the worked YO is on the right-hand needle):

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…and it looks like this from the back of the work (worked YO is now on the left-hand needle):

June10-YOwrong7-reverse

Turns out, this is actually a YO worked in the reverse direction from what you are supposed to do, which pulls at the knitted fabric and actually twists the YO in an unflattering fashion. It is the lace equivalent of knitting through the back loop when you are only supposed to knit a regular knit stitch. At the end of this post I’ll show you the results of this in a swatch that involves YO and patterning on every row. It’s huge.

In actual fact, the proper way to work a YO is, from that same starting position of the knit…

June10-YOwrong1

..bring your yarn forward to the front of the work. (Remember that this is also called “yarn forward”?)

June10-YOright1

That’s it. That’s a yarnover. For real.

Now, work the K2tog decrease that follows it, and the wrapped yarn will appear as you work that stitch:

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TA-DA.

And now you end up with a yarnover sitting just to the right of the K2tog decrease:

June10-YOright5

See how different/better it looks compared to its cousin worked in the previous step?

You can see from the reverse side how different they look, in particular. The correct version now appears to the right-hand side of the photo:

June10-YObothreverse

If all you are doing is purling-back on your WS rows, you might not even notice or care. If, however, you are called upon to work pattern on both RS and WS rows and suddenly have to manipulate the YO worked on the previous row, it makes an inordinate amount of difference.

I worked up a swatch (below) on fingering-weight yarn in a simple little netting stitch using both versions – the bottom half of the swatch is done with the ‘wrong’ way, and the top half is worked in the ‘right’ way. Can you tell the difference? It’s not an enormous difference, so don’t feel bummed if you can’t – in fact, with aggressive wet-blocking I dare say nobody would notice unless they went over it extremely closely. Since I am usually a pretty aggressive wet-blocker with lace, this also explains a bit why I never noticed anything amiss.

June10-YOswatch1

However, check out this class swatch with a knitted-on edging, in which the bottom inch of the swatch was my work done with my initial method, and the rest of it was worked correctly. This is a sample in which there is patterning and YO on each row. See the difference now? See how compressed and flat the bottom section is, compared to the rest? (This is when, during class, I showed my finished swatch to Jennifer and she looked at me with a sympathetic “DUDE.”)

June10-ClassSwatch2

This, my friends, is the power of working yarnovers in the right direction.

Since Wednesday night’s lace class I have been wracking my brain trying to remember how I learned to work yarnovers – did someone show me? Did I learn from written instructions? From a book? Or did I just do what I thought was a YO at the time, only to go 2 years before realizing there was a better way? Who knows. But I’m pleased to know the better/right way now, and I hope you are too. (Unless of course, you already knew. If so, kudos and cake to you.)

Go forth and yarnover fearlessly!

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Filed under demo, lace

You learn something new every day

Hi, my name is Glenna, and last night I nearly died of self-inflicted embarrassment in front of Anne Hanson. True story.

June9-AH3

I had the great fortune to nab one of the spots in her Advanced Lace Knitting class at The Purple Purl, and it was well worth it. Anne is knowledgeable, kind, and patient, and I am jealous of all the people who get to sit in her day-long class today. (I am on my way towards Edmonton later today, for a weekend in celebration of my grandfather’s 95th birthday. He does get to have priority.) I signed up because lace knitting is probably the skill set I possess the least experience in – I’ve been knitting socks and cables for about 5 years, but doing lace for only about 2 – and I also knew that I was going to be tasked with some lace design projects this summer, so anything to help me develop my skills in the lace knitting area is something I’m interested in. I was not disappointed! I have no doubt that everyone in the class enjoyed a revelation or two.

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Among other things, I learned about crochet provisional cast-ons for the first time (I’d managed to avoid it up until now), salient differences between lace patterns with and without the purl-back ‘rest’ rows (I tend towards the purl-back patterns, for speed and memorizability, but I can’t live there forever), different kinds of shawl construction, yarn selection, and much, much more.

June9-AH4

And then, while we were working our little test swatches to practice knitted-on edgings, I was running into some trouble and having difficulty figuring out what I was doing wrong. It was one of those moments where you know without a doubt that your work does not look the way it is supposed to look, and yet your brain refuses to give up the magical explanation as to WHY it doesn’t look right. And so Anne came over and helped me out and we figured out that the reason it wasn’t going right…is because I have been doing my yarnovers (YOs) wrong this entire time.

It rocked my world, I tell you. I immediately (well, today, after resisting the urge to cuddle all my knitted shawls in apologetic tears mumbling I’m so sorry my babies I DONE YOU WRONG) remembered my friend Liz reporting something similar on her Twitter about a week or two ago, and I emailed her to ask if my wrong way vs. the right way was the same as her wrong way vs. the right way. And it WAS. And I went and asked my mother to show me the way SHE does yarnovers, and it turns out SHE does it the same wrong way too. AHA.

So, dear knitting friends, I am duly prepping a post about this, because if there are at least 3 of us in this world who have been doing it wrong, then there are probably others too, and I would like to share this with you so that you don’t have to die of embarrassment while sitting in an Advanced Lace Knitting class with Anne Hanson.

And the rest of you who are doing it right, well. The first round of martinis is on me. Catch you next time (possibly live from Edmonton) with a photo-riffic YO post. It’s gonna be awesome.

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Ribbit

Hi, have we met? I like knitting socks. I have stopped remembering a time when I was not knitting socks. In fact, I don’t currently have an active sock project going and it’s making me feel a little weird. Luckily I am about a zillion years behind on starting a pair of socks for my grandfather’s birthday this weekend (he’s turning 95. I have the appropriate-sized self-induced guilt trip for not having started them yet, believe me). I’ve knitted a lot of stockinette socks in my time as a sock knitter and I still do occasionally, but if I’m left to my own devices and I just want the socks and don’t really want to have to actually devote a lot of brain cells to said pair of socks, I knit me those socks in 3×1 ribbing. (Knit 3, purl 1).

I like the ribbing because they are an idge more snug than plain stockinette, and also provide a just-enough level of attention that I don’t get as bored with them. I’ve done a few pairs as gifts as well, and have used a few different kinds of yarn to do so, but it turns out the only ones lingering in my own sock drawer are the ones I’ve made with Socks That Rock lightweight. I appear to hoard all the STR socks for myself.

June7-RibbedSocks2

And they are beautiful and I think maybe I need a week’s worth of them just like I knitted a week’s worth of Lorna’s Laces Jaywalkers.

A little while ago people started asking me about the pattern for these, and I didn’t think it was terribly complex enough to need a pattern, but then I remembered that sometimes people need patterns written down even if they are for things that are not terribly complex, and so I wrote it down.

You can download the pattern for free here as a PDF file (about 2MB):
A Nice Ribbed Sock, or in my Ravelry store as a free download.

I’ve written this up for one size – to comfortably fit foot/ankle circumference of 8-9 inches around, over 64 sts on fingering weight yarn. I use 2.75mm needles to do so – you might need a smaller or larger needle size depending on what you would normally use to get a gauge of 8 sts/inch, so feel free to do what you feel comfortable with. You can easily modify the size by increasing or decreasing the total # of cast on stitches by a multiple of 4. This will also change the # of stitches on the heel flap by the same multiple of 2, and will also change the yardage estimates. For me, a woman with Size 11 feet, I find a skein of Socks That Rock lightweight which has about 360 yards, will give me just enough yardage with a few grams leftover.

June7-RibbedSocks1

Enjoy! Knit away happily. And then maybe you’ll have yourself a week’s worth of ribbed socks if you want.

Happy Tuesday, and keep the knitting close by.

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How to find knitting patterns on the internet

I have been spending a bit of time finally writing up my neat and tidy little instructions for my go-to nice comfy ribbed sock pattern (I had thought it was too basic to put into a “real” pattern format, but then people started asking me about the pattern, and so now I am writing it into a pattern), but it’s not quite there yet so I’ll have to post about that later this week. In the mean time, though, something popped into my head that I keep wanting to do a quick note about, because even if it is just basic common sense I think it still bears repeating.

Every so often, I receive a blog comment or an email from a kindly reader/lurker/random human who happened to come upon my blog while traipsing across the internet, with a question or a question veiled as a comment, like, “I’m looking for a pattern for a ribbed hat. Can you help me plz thanks!” And sometimes I will respond with a few patient suggestions, sometimes I will be busy enough not to respond at all, and some times I will respond with some subset of the suggestions I will list below. It’s my guess that 90% of you are savvy enough to have thought of these things on your own, but if you are in the other 10% of human beings, allow me to offer these small tidbits of advice.

If you are trying to find a ribbed hat pattern/an easy child’s mitten/that sweater pattern your aunt knitted that one time a while back/some knitted wall hanging I’ve never heard of before, try one or more of the following routes:

1. Use an online search engine. Google is Your Friend. (Or, as the kids on the internets say, JFGI, dude). If you’re not familiar with using search engines, or if you’re not familiar with how to use them well, there are even tips guides on how to do this. The main thing to remember is to keep your keywords as useful as possible. You are not searching for “ribbed hat.” You are searching for “knitting pattern hat ribbing” or “knitting pattern ribbed hat” or “knit hat pattern free” or possibly “knitting hat free ribbed Aran child”, or however refined you want to make it.

Remember that Google is not clairvoyant. Google is also not secretly holding away the knitting pattern webpage you are looking for in a locked room somewhere. Google does not care about the hat pattern you are looking for. Google is waiting for you to give it instructions, and it will follow them. Google also does not respond to screaming and yelling, but I’m sure that’s not news to you, either.

Also, keep in mind that Google favours popular searches. The most popularly visited webpages related to your search string will likely be the first ones listed. The webpage you are looking for may not be the most popular one. Be prepared to sift through a page or two of results before you give up and try another set of keywords.

2. Visit Ravelry, and either
a) conduct a search in the pattern archive
(which BTW was one of the original functions of Ravelry), making great use of the constantly-improving pattern search features, or
b) ask around in the forums (which BTW was not one of the original functions of Ravelry, it came later because the users wanted it), in a group relevant to the kind of pattern you are looking for. I.e. if your pattern involves lace, the lace knitting groups might know. If your pattern is a cute Spiderman-themed hat for kids, there is probably a Spiderman-themed group out there you could ask. You will never know until you start looking.

I know that not all knitters in the universe are Raverly users. I know that there are even people in the knitting biz who don’t take Ravelry seriously as part of the “market” (whatever that is), and I know that there are knitters out there who either actively resist being joiners on the Internet or who may not even know that the knitting internets exist. I get that.

Keep in mind that Ravelry is there to support you as a knitter. It is an enormous archive of information, and it has a lot of users that also know a lot of knitting information. It is free, and if all you do is sign up in order to have access to the pattern search function, you are still totally allowed to do that.

3. Ask a human. Find the knitters closest to you – a yarn shop, a knitting circle, the women you see knitting at that coffee shop every other Friday. You never know – it might be that someone else knitted that exact same pattern, and can tell you exactly where to find it. It may be that your Local Yarn Shop owner had someone come in just the other day asking about that exact same pattern, and can tell you where to find it. It may also be the case that they have never heard of it. But, knitters like to help other people find ways to knit things, and they might help you find something similar that achieves the same purpose as the thing you were looking for originally.

Technically, this step doesn’t involve you using the internet, but it does involve you talking to people who may also use the internet, and the goal is to access more knitting pattern knowledge any way you can. This is all of the good.

All 3 of these steps are guaranteed to put you in contact with a lot of knitting patterns, and possibly a lot of other knitters, which are also both good things. You might get to the end of your search and find that you have totally forgotten about that stupid ribbed hat pattern and are now completely committed to cabled berets. Totally fine.

Have you ever had to track down a super obscure/random knitting pattern and had success? Leave other suggestions in the comments!

Happy knitting, and catch you again next time with a simple, free pattern.

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All Lace all the Time

The knitting universe is throwing a lot of lace at me at the moment. Despite the fact that my brain is already starting to say “nooo, cables, why aren’t you knitting more cables,” I am steadfast and trying to remind my brain that if one were to ever make time for a lace knitting binge, the summer months are exactly that kind of time.

To wit, I am still chugging away on the Bridgewater shawl, which doesn’t look much like lace yet, but it will once I finish the central square of garter stitch and start in on the lace edging. I am happy that it is starting to look more square like now that I am back on the decreasing-triangle side instead of the increasing-triangle side. Also, in case you were ever in any doubt on this subject, I can report that garter stitch on lace-weight yarn is not the speediest project ever. Fingering weight socks are going to feel like a sprint after this.

June3-Bridgewater

I’m also moving forward on a new design for The Sweet Sheep, with a big sunny skein of one of Michelle’s Super Soft Skeins that she handed over to me at the Knitter’s Frolic. She dyes up 8 oz skeins of fingering weight so that a person can get a nicely sized shawl out of it without ever having to stop and change skein in the middle of the project. This one is coming along nicely so far, and is planned for mid/late summer release. I’m enjoying the stitch pattern so far. I’m going for a combination of two stitch patterns and am generally a fan of the “looks very pretty but isn’t freaking intimidating” kind of lace, and yea verily will apply that logic here.

June3-SweetSheepShawl

I also have the two skeins of Tanis Fiber Arts Mulberry Silk that I got at the Frolic, and a copy of the Peacock Feathers shawl, and would like to get on those some time soon too. So many things to knit.

Have you got any lace on the needles? Happy knitting!

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