Category Archives: fair isle

Steeks

We have them.
Steekage has begun.

Photobucket

I was feeling all confident yesterday thinking that “hey, I’m at the armholes now, the v-neck steek is set, I can just do gradual decreases now and every row will go faster, this will be a piece of cake to be done by April 2.” And then another voice reminded me, “but you still have to do the sleeves, dumbass.”

Hm. This may be too much of a challenge to get done in 3 weeks. Will that stop me from trying? No. I’ll just maybe start laying in some small sweater-recovery projects now… ;)

14 Comments

Filed under fair isle, sweaters

Sweater Report

When I blithely decided earlier this week to have all 3 of my Works In Progress be sweaters and thus to cast on for the Urban Aran, clearly I was either being very well prepared for the weather, or daring the fates to openly mock me. Either way, around these parts we are going to get pounded again this weekend with upwards of 20cm more snow between Friday night and Saturday night. Maybe there really is someone up there going, “you want more sweater weather? Well check THIS out, HAH!”

You know it’s bad when the weather news reads “First winter storm of March hit on Tuesday…” because if there’s a “first” storm then there must at least be a 2nd, if not a 3rd or 4th in store. The snowbanks are getting to be higher than people. I mean dudes, we’ve been getting snowfall every 5 days since the end of January, and while that’s normal for many other fine parts of the world, Southern Ontario is starting to collectively weep because we can’t remember a time when we wore something other than boots and 5 layers of clothing to go outside. I remember looking at Liz‘s photos of Oakland, California a few weeks ago and thinking, “huh, that’s weird, there’s no snow in those photos.” And then having to remind myself “OH. Some times people live in places without snowstorms. Right.

I am hugging my sweaters-in-progress, for they are of many colours and are good to me.

GlowingMar7

‘Glowing’ is zipping along and I am planning on casting on the 2nd sleeve tonight while the first flakes fall. It feels so lovely and I am already thinking ahead to what other sweater projects I would like to make with Mission Falls 1824. It’s soft and bright and sturdy and – unless things go horribly awry during washing, which I hope will not – is worth every penny.

‘Venezia’ is coming along at a slower pace but is also a happy sight:

VeneziaMar6

I was, admittedly, a little unsure about the colour combination for a good long while, but now that the body is taking shape I think it’s growing on me quite well. My plans are to make modifications for a v-neck instead of the boatneck (thank you, Ravelry!) and I should be able to start that soon.

Venezia is the only sweater with a theoretical deadline. On April 2nd I have made plans travel to New York again, and I want (a finished) Venezia to come with me. I’m heading down to visit Rebecca, enjoy some post-term touristing and relaxation, and catch the Yarn Harlot on tour too. (I wish I could go in Toronto on April 1st, but sadly I have to “teach a class” that day or some such nonsense). Ever since my jaunt down to NYC for Rhinebeck I’ve been wanting to visit again and see more of New York and I’m so excited.

I hope your weekends are enjoyable…I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll get not just some knitting done but also some real work as well. Pesky revisions.

May your knitting be close by and may you not be snowed in.

21 Comments

Filed under fair isle

Towanda!*

Monday, Monday, Monday. I know you have to come every week, but honestly this is starting to get annoying. Are you sure you and Sunday can’t work out some kind of a truce?

At any rate, nothing distracts from Monday-dom like cutting up some knitting, am I right? ;) I was so flattered and warm-fuzzied by all your lovely comments on my Ivy League Vest last week. A lot of you expressed your own fear over doing a project that requires you to cut things – and really, one has to sympathize. Every knitter who is a steek-cutter was once a knitter who was not a steek-cutter, who in fact probably exclaimed “you want me to do WHAT with that thing I just knitted out of 8 colours and 2 months of my life?” at the very prospect of cutting a steek.

So, I was thinking about this, and if you’re in the WHAT? category, ::coughcough::mymother::coughcoughcough:: here’s something you can do about it. First, you knit yourself a swatch. Find yourself 2 shades of fingering-weight wool (this only works with wool, sadly), cast on about 70 stitches or so, and work it in the round in a pattern of your choice. I used the chart from the Endpaper Mitts, since the pattern was close by and that can be worked in 10-stitch increments. Here, I used Knit Picks Palette in ‘Red’, and ‘Blush’ (a little bright, in retrospect – next time I attempt a demo, I’ll choose a combination that’s easier on the eyes), and my 2.75mm bamboo DPNs.

Photobucket

If you’ve never done stranded knitting, this is a good time to practice holding one colour in each hand, too. (There is a video clip of one method of this at the Philosopher’s Wool site under ‘Video Clips’ – viewable in I.E.). Somewhere in the swatch, be sure to insert a steek – a column of 8-10 sts which you will later cut down the middle. Here, I worked the steek stripe pattern similar to the Ivy League Vest, alternating colours and keeping the 2 centre colours the same: A, B, A, B, A, A, B, A, B, A.

Photobucket

Work to a length that feels good. Don’t be too stingy, either. This is also a good opportunity for you to consult what gauge you’re getting, if that’s a piece of information you’d like to know. Bind it off and then have a nice ponder over the fact that you’re about to cut this up down the middle. Feel free to have a sip of wine or eat a bag of chocolate chips or do some push-ups, or whatever it is you need to do before diving in. But remember, this is only a swatch. If you mess up, then it’s not as though you’ve ruined a precious gift. And then, you cut:

My little clip here is definitely not the only YouTube video that shows cutting a steek. This one has particularly visceral sound-effects (heh), and also displays a different steek pattern option. And it also shows you how important it is to keep one hand inside the knitting to make sure you can keep the scissors’ path steady – you don’t want to end the cutting only to discover you’ve just sliced the entire works into two pieces. If that happened, I would need something a whole lot stronger than just a sip of wine.

You’ve just cut an unreinforced steek. I think it’s nice to just leave it out on the table, or in your purse, or even let the cat paw it around a bit. Let it stay unreinforced for a bit and get a feel for how sturdy it is. But eventually, you can do some trimming on the cut edge and some reinforcement. Sew it down with sewing machine/needle and thread, fold and whipstitch it down, or just a line of single crochet will do:

Photobucket

Congratulations! At this point, the swatch has done its job and doesn’t owe you anything else. But if you’re like me and can’t turn down the opportunity to make something more, you could, say, fold it in half and sew up the sides…and pick up some stitches around the base of the steek…

Photobucket

And throw some ribbing on there, and get a wee little pouch out of the deal.

Photobucket

Cutting up your knitting – it’s good for what ails you. ;)

*Thank you, Fried Green Tomatoes.

9 Comments

Filed under fair isle, fearless knitting, swatching

Making friends with steeks

I want to thank everyone for the comments on my socks in the previous post – they have brought me much cheer and encouragement! The pattern file is open once again and I am going to get back to it in short order. In the meanwhile, though, I finally have this Finished Object to show off:

IvyLeague1

Um. I mentioned before how taking photos of yourself is really hard, right? Yeah. There are about a dozen more shots in the trash, heh. But I did manage to get a few worth showing, that display the vest in all its glory. The steeks worked. The fair isle was wonderful. The pattern is well written. I’m so happy with it I don’t even mind including a shot with my rear end in it. ;)

IvyLeague2

Pattern: Ivy League Vest, by Eunny Jang, Interweave Knits 2007 (scroll down)
Yarn: Knit Picks Palette (substituted; in twig, cream, tidepool heather, blue note heather, brindle heather, and mist) I only needed 1 ball of each for the 34.5 inch size, which makes this project a freakin’ bargoon.
Needles: 3.5mm on the fair isle, 3.75mm on the ribbing
Modifications: I knew from the get-go that I wanted to add length to this to bring it just over the top of my hips. I did this by adding 2 small peeries at the bottom before beginning the waist-shaping. I also up-sized the needles on the ribbing and on the two peeries that I added before the waist-shaping, to allow for a bit more room in the hips. This worked out well, and in fact I think I could have gone up another needle-size on the ribbing. I think next time I wash it I will block the ribbing out a little more widely, as it is rippling slightly just below the waist.

I omitted the purl ‘seam’ stitch at each side, and unintentionally deviated from the colour chart when I flubbed a few times and didn’t change the background colour or foreground colour when I was supposed to. I think it still looks good, though. I’m a happy camper.

As far as the steeks go – well, it was all fine. I’d done steeks before, but only using the Philosopher’s Wool method of cutting alongside a single column of ‘purl’ stitches that are first reinforced with a sewing machine. I left these Ivy League steeks without reinforcement before cutting, which is fine when your steeks are 8-10 sts wide. Post-cutting and post-ribbing, I trimmed the steeks to neaten them and then reinforced with a row of single crochet. So far, so good, it all seems to be holding up nicely.

ILVtake1 ILVDec8 ILVDec11
IvyLeagueDec16 ILV steeks IvyLeague3

Hurrah! Onwards to more fair isle. Soon, my pretty yarn, soon…

30 Comments

Filed under fair isle, fearless knitting, finished object: sweater, ivy league vest

This is the story of a pair of socks

I’d like to offer proof-of-life photos and reassure you that yes indeed, the vest has been steeked, finished, and is still alive, but the darned bugger is still damp from blocking and I haven’t been able to get it on to photograph yet. Soon. Soon. It’s cold and it’s vest-wearing time and that Ivy League Vest pattern is some kind of awesome.

Instead, I have a story. Settle in my friends. It’s been waiting for a while, and I still can’t believe that I, the queen of impatience, haven’t told it yet. I suppose there is just no underestimating what will happen when you are in the grips of dissertation distress. But anyhoo…First we go back to mid-2006-or-so, when I was watching Veronica Mars DVDs and doodling argyle patterns in my notebook. Veronica, as the modern smart girl’s hip-happening almost-Nancy-Drew and general emblematic young woman fashion-plate, wears kicky things like faux-argyle diamonds, or small amounts of argyle on hoodies or cardigans, most often in bright pinks and greens. And all of this seeped into my subconscious, and I kept thinking, you know, what Veronica really needs is a nice pair of mini-argyle socks.

‘Socktoberfest’ 2006 rolled around and I ordered myself a whackload of sock yarn from KnitPicks. It wasn’t until about a year ago that I finally got down to making some socks, all the while with Veronica on the brain, and after a few iterations (one nixed attempt is immortalized up at the bottom left of my blog header, in Apple Laine yarn) I finally had these, in KnitPicks ‘Essential':

Photobucket

Surely Miss Mars herself would approve. I was so pleased with them I sent them off to Knitty for a pattern submission. Sadly they were rejected, but Amy generously suggested that I self-publish. I let the idea percolate until the summer, when I reminded myself that I didn’t really want a pair of mini-argyle socks (or mini-faux argyle – these are 2-colour in the round, not the 3-colour intarsia of argyle tradition), what I wanted was a pair of mini argyle knee-socks. So, I went back again to the needles, this time with some more sedate shades of Knit Picks Gloss. By October, they were done. I managed a few photos on my own, and Beatrice agreed that the finished socks were adequate:

Photobucket

Then, I went out for a run one day and promptly fell and skinned my knee so badly that I began to wonder if my knees would ever be photogenic again. And then winter came on, and the thesis stress was there, and etc etc etc…Until finally we come to this weekend and I batted my eyelashes at my sister long enough for her to nab a few shots for me. Les-voila, the Veronica Knee Socks:

Photobucket

I love them. I adore them to bits and pieces. I have been wanting for months to get the pattern out for sale (as soon as I figure out how to do that), and all it wants is a bit more writing and some sizing instructions. I am hoping that if I post about them now, I’ll work up some sufficient guilt that I won’t let that delay for too much longer. ;)

Photobucket

They are worked top-town with elastic knitted into the single-rib cuffs, feature shaping along a faux-seam running up the back of the leg, a short-row heel, and use 2-colour stranded technique in the round. I used Knit Picks ‘Gloss’ in Black and Burgundy (2 skeins each), and 2.75mm bamboo DPNs for a stranded gauge of 8 sts/inch. They are warm and smooth, thanks to the blend of wool/silk contained in the Gloss. These ones here are made to fit my 15.5-inch shapely calves, to a length of about 14 inches or so between the cuff and heel.

Photobucket

A knit saga almost at the end. Whaddaya think, my knitting friends? Good enough for mass consumption? One thing’s for sure – in these socks, you are sure to be noticed, whether Nancy-Drewing it or no.

Next colour-work installment…the Ivy League Vest, and Why Steeks Aren’t So Bad After All. :)

30 Comments

Filed under design, fair isle, fandom, finished object: socks

Oh yeah, baby.

Steekin’ time.

ILV steeks

22 Comments

Filed under fair isle, ivy league vest

Someone should use it

A propos of nothing in particular, have you ever tried making pesto with cilantro instead of basil? You skip the cheese and use about twice the garlic and use peanuts instead of pine nuts and it’s awesome. And if you add some peeled-lengthwise carrots into the noodles just as they finish cooking, you can feel like you’re in some cool cooking show saying things like, “and don’t be afraid to use what you have on hand, Liz, that’s what innovative cooking for quick meals is all about…” and it’s tasty. I finally tried this tonight, after intending to do so pretty much every other time I’ve had cilantro going wilty in the fridge after using about 1/5th of the bunch for a recipe and forgetting about the rest. Good times.

But a propos of work in the kitchen, I’ve got to get on the holiday baking. Have any of you seen the cookie recipes emerging from Smitten Kitchen lately? Mmmmnnnnggghhh. Knitting, you’ve got competition this week.

In any case, speaking of other forgotten, possibly wilty things, remember how I was knitting a Moderne Log Cabin blanket? Yep, it’s still there. Still in the WIP category of my Ravelry projects, and believe me I’ve pondered the idea of putting it into hibernation. I’ll knit about 4 rows, then become weary and put it aside, and pick it up about 10 days later and knit another 4 rows, then repeat. At least Beatrice likes it. (Apologies for the blurry):

ModerneDec

I draped it over the footstool so that at least one creature in the household can get some enjoyment out of it, which kitty does indeed. She even slept on it all night one time, so there’s that. It’s not the most active WIP ever, but to put it into hibernation makes me fear I’ll never get it done. And yet would forcing myself to finish make me even more weary? Oh, the decisions.

In other news, after digging myself into a horrible pit of misery for a short while earlier this week, I forced myself to chill today and begin on the holiday do-nothing time. (I have to start writing lectures soon ohgodohgodohgodohgod but am going to try to work up to that in increments). The Ivy League Vest has seen quite a bit more action as a result, and is now a couple of inches past the progress in this photo:

ILVDec18

Thanks to my stress-addled brain, I’ve done a few mishaps along the way, but in large part these are mostly colour errors. A couple of times on the large peeries I’ve forgotten to change the background or foreground colour partway through, for example. But thankfully peeries are forgiving and still look good. I’m glad now that I started with this first – by the time I get to Venezia perhaps I will have trained my brain to read colour charting a bit more precisely.

The other thing I’m grappling with is the stitch counts – this pattern indicates # of decreases very clearly, but I find I’m more comfortable with indications of stitch counts remaining, of which there are not so many. I’d like to know for certain how many sts are supposed to be left behind for each shoulder, as for example. I can backtrack that info from the rest of the pattern numbers, but sometimes I just want the security blanket of knowing for sure, yanno?

My wee brigade of Korknisse does continue to grow. I did this little subset on Sunday at my sister’s place and then added four more today. They continue to be adorable, and I continue to want more. I am debating whether to add any to the tree as ornaments or to just keep them as little standalone decorations.

KorknisseDec16

I am pretty easy about the corks – regular cork, newfangled plastic recycled corks, whatever. I mean, when you are basically making tiny knitted hats and sweaters for wine corks, the composite material of said corks is probably the least of your worries, right? ;) But I have started to ponder the fact that these wee darlings could use a bit more diversity in their population, which is certainly aided by the plastic corks that come in different shades. (Note to self: locate silver marker to provide black Korknisse with eyes.)

And what of the California corks? Is it wrong to make them knitted hats, as they come from such warm climes? Would they prefer brighter colours? Or perhaps cotton duds, not wool? A person could get a little too involved in such a project as this. You’ll have to keep me in line. ;)

16 Comments

Filed under fair isle, ivy league vest, korknisse, mason-dixon

I am dead from all the cute

The internet is dragging slower than molasses, and we were supposed to get 10cm of lovely fluffy snow last night and all we got was freezing rain, and I have work and crap that needs doing, but that is all FINE, because these little creatures are now peeking down at me from their current residence on the window ledge:

Korknisse1

I want to make more. Seriously, these are not little one-shot projects. This is a pattern that cries out to be made by the dozen. A veritable Korknisse army, that is what I want. Unfortunately, after scouring the kitchen I have come up with only 8 stashed corks. 8 Korknisse are clearly not enough. Anyone who knows me and drinks wine…your corks are not safe. I must have them.

(Also, blog reader Cricket reports that her 8-year old has been enjoying making this pattern, and it is completely beginner-friendly. Just think of that, all of you with young’uns at home – you could be creating new knitters and getting them to churn out holiday ornaments at the same time. That’s good knit-savvy right there.)

Also, here’s an Ivy League progress shot. Lookin’ good, no? I’m just about ready to start the v-neck steek. Fun times ahead, baby.

ILVDec11

And now I should get on with my day, including conservation of further photo-documentation, as I am meant to be 12-of-12-ing it again. (Although in December I suppose that makes it 12-of-12-of-12!)

May your knitting be close by today.

14 Comments

Filed under fair isle, holiday knitting, ivy league vest

It was an accident, I swear.

I was on my way to cast on for Korknisse. Really. These 200+ stitches totally cast themselves on without warning.

ILVtake1

I’m taking this as a sign that I’m not fully ready to commit to a Venezia colour scheme yet. (But thank you all so much for the comments. It pleases me that not all of you are in agreement either) ;) I rather think at this point I should just put them all on the floor and see which one Beatrice likes best.

Congrats to Twig on her finished Basic Black (or, Basic Burgundy perhaps?), modified for winter wear with full sleeves. It is always incredibly reassuring to know that my patterns work in someone else’s hands and not just mine. Also, now I want another one with full sleeves too. Hmm.

Happy weekend!

10 Comments

Filed under fair isle, ivy league vest

More with the swatching

I’m still totally on the love train for Venezia, but believe me when I say I have twice had to hold myself back from casting on for the Ivy League Vest, just to take the edge off my impatience. After two swatches I had lots of love for all the colours, was extolling the virtures to myself of being able to mix and match different shades according to one’s preference…and then I knitted 2 more swatches and now my brain is all OMG just pick a danged colour combination already.

In the last chapter of this Venezia journey, I did 2 swatches, a blue/green and a red/purple, and disliked 1 shade of the blue/green one so I decided to try a different combo to make sure I was sure whether or not I liked it. Along the way I decided to also pluck out the bright yellow shade in the centre of the motif just to see what that would look like. The only colour I wear less often than brown is yellow, and I was concerned it was getting in the way of me fully committing to either set of options.

Version #1, take 2:

Venezia1b

I think the blue/green combination is much better here, and I am actually pretty sold on the removal of the yellow, too. With the new shade of dark green, I think the more balanced combo of the foreground shades is rather soothing. On the other hand, I’m not sure if yellow was actually harming anything in the 2nd one.

Version #2, take 2:

Venezia2b

Here I think the centre pale purple shade washes out the light tan (which is indeed different from the two foreground shades before and after – but it is totally lost here), and eliminates that nice sort of glowy vibe I was getting off of the previous red/purple combination. Well y’all, I dunno. I might be back where I started, contemplating the nice rusty red/purple variation I swatched in the first round.

Wanna see them all together?

Venezia1aVenezia1b

Venezia2aVenezia2b

Oh yeah, and I also switched in an actual ‘white’, in the process of bumping everything in the foreground forward to eliminate the yellow. Somewhere in here, I am convinced, is a lesson on colour theory and the value of…something. This is valuable stuff, don’tcha know, G? Revel in the virtues of shades, be not afraid that thou hast not yet begun thy sweater.

The next time I talk about this sweater, I swear by my stash it will be to report on a hem, or a sleeve cuff in progress, or something that constitutes actual knitting. Gotta be with the moving forward. But in the meanwhile, it’s winter now, and I pulled out my pair of convertible mitts to discover one had been chewed by mice (I am convinced of this, the work was so precise. They went right for my right mitt and left my 8 foot Harry Potter scarf untouched. Surely moths would not be so discriminating). So, I’m making another one, with a skein of yon Briggs & Little Regal that’s waiting patiently to become a Brennan Cardigan one day:

ConvertiblesDec4

I love the heathery-ness so much I could just plotz. It soothes me.
Onwards!

14 Comments

Filed under fair isle, swatching, venezia