Monthly Archives: January 2009

I fight crazy with more crazy

So, it’s January, and the first Monday of January, and it’s back to the real world and I am unsurprisingly going back kicking and screaming. The holidays always go by so fast. To add special agony to the lack-of-holidays, I am entering into a semester of the highest teaching load I’ve ever had, and I fully expect to be experiencing moments of full-on whacko.

I think when your brain is going off in a zillion different directions, and you’re looking to your knitting for a distraction, a plain stockinette sock will not do. The knitting needs to be equal to the crazy. I fight life crazy with knitting crazy. In this case, with a stranded colour-work pair of gloves knitted at 12 sts to the inch.

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The pattern is the Sanquhar gloves from here (in the tradition of Scottish Sanquhar knitting, described here), and is more of a collection of charts and basic instructions than a full pattern. Let me tell you, this is the kind of project that rewards skill, intuition, and endurance. I am loving every. single. stitch. Elspeth and I have even been having talk of a Knitalong. Care to join?

It should put things into perspective when I say that my execution of the pattern “only” uses light fingering weight (and not laceweight) and is “only” at a gauge of 12 sts to the inch. As written, these instructions call for a gauge of 14 sts to the inch, but that would be less likely to fit my hand. And because these gloves have been knitted for centuries with the same traditional patterns and the little blocks and motifs within, the easiest way to change the size of these gloves without completely changing the motifs, is to change your gauge and needle size. So at “only” 12 sts to the inch on 2.0 mm needles, these are more likely to fit me than the original instructions.

Also – and I think this is the most hysterical part – even if I wanted to go to a tighter gauge of 13 or 14 sts to the inch, I would need to go down to 1.75 or 1.5mm needles (that’s size 00 or 000 for you ‘Murricans), and (get this) when I went out locally to find such tiny needles in person, they didn’t exist. Not all needle manufacturers make them. (I later went to the internets – said needles are now being sent to me from Elann. I must have them).

The yarn is a very light fingering weight in grabby heathery wool from my Rhinebeck 2008 purchases, procured from the A Touch of Twist booth. I started in on some Daina mittens with it the week I returned, but then discovered that the yarn was too light for those. At 270 yds per 50g, it’s not quite the laceweight that the Sanqhuar pattern asks for, but it’s darned close and a fine substitute at a slightly looser gauge.

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I’m loving them. I sort of want to bite them just to sink my teeth into the knitting because that’s how great it feels to hold this up and look at it and know that I can knit crazy shit like this and it is beautiful. Of course, it is entirely possible that I’ll get to the fingers, make a horrible mistake and have to re-do, but even if I do I think I’ll be OK with that. I had to rip back and re-split for the thumb gusset twice, and I’m still loving this. Today I’m working from home and I keep wanting to slip away from my desk just to look at the glove in progress.

And sometimes, that’s what you need from your knitting.
May your knitting be close by today!

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Filed under accessories, fair isle, fearless knitting

Book Review: Continuous Cables

My first book review of 2009 is a selection which has been waiting for me ever so patiently for the last few months of 2008. This is Melissa Leapman’s follow-up to Cables Untangled, Continuous Cables.

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Having read both Continuous Cables and the earlier Cables Untangled, I must admit I have higher praise for this latest effort. While CC had a strong stitch dictionary and no lack of ambition, stylistically I didn’t quite go for the all-over cable pattern effects that the first book tended to emphasize – but then again, you might love it. In this newer volume, Leapman uses cables with more diversity, placing them alone in single panels, in combination with other patterns similar to the aran sweater style, as well as a few all-over patterns thrown in for good measure.

Some good examples of the placed single motif are in the children’s pieces, of which there are many. This may well be a selling point for some knitters – often knitting books concentrate solely on adult garments and toss in one or two children’s pieces as an afterthought, but here there is a fairly equal division between knitting for adults, children, and for the home.

First off, how about some baby blocks? I think these are brilliant. Useful, suitable for an infinite variation of colours, and a nice small canvas to practice single cable patterns as well as toy-making. How often can you say that about a project?

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The children’s sweaters offer similar appeal, using different combinations of cables on a relatively smaller canvas than would be required for an adult piece. This wee baby sweater does have a pretty gnarly cable on the front, but just think…Once you’re done the front, it’s stockinette and straight on until morning. The pink girls’ sweater below is one that caught my eye. I might even be inclined to up-size it…why must the adorable come only in child size?

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I did mention there are some style selections that may or may not agree with you, depending on your preference. For example, this Swirl Pullover almost hits the mark for me but not quite. I love the texture at the sides, but the extra-large centre cable isn’t for me.

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On the other hand, I quite like this tank top sweater, made with the improbable yarn selection of ‘Cornucopia’, a 100% corn yarn. Who says cables need to be wool-only?

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The women’s sweaters fit a bust size of about 34 ins on up to 48 ins or so, depending on the desired amount of negative ease. There are quite a few blankets and throws, as well as two ‘beginner’ cable pieces at the beginning of the book – a hat and a throw pillow. The opening pages devote a lot of attention towards technique and explaining to you Why Cables Are Easier Than They Look. I’m a big fan of that. And the stitch dictionary at the end? Well. You’ll have to read that for yourself, it’s enough to make you drool over all the twists and turns. And I can’t stop thinking about the hooded cardigan sweater on the cover.

All in all I think the stitch dictionary combined with a good diversity of patterns makes this a fun selection to have in a knitting library. Having said that, I’d recommend having a flip through the book in person before making your decision. I think any book which relies on a single stitch technique is going to depend on some stylistic preferences, which may not match your own. And if you want to come over and tell me what colour I should knit the cover hoodie in, please do. I’ll have tea waiting.

Happy cabling! More reviews to come in 2009.

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New Year, New Knits

These corks got all dressed up in their New Year’s finest (remnants of Silk Garden, Manos wool, and sari silk), to wish you a very happy 2009.

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Thank you all for being out there in blog-land in 2008 and being my imaginary friends. I’d like to do a 2008 knitting reckoning and 2009 knitting resolutions post, but mostly, I’m happy with most of what I knitted in 2008, I’d like to knit more in 2009, and at the start of a year that will no doubt be filled with both fun times and challenges, I’m grateful for knitting. The corks say it all.

Happy New Year!

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Filed under korknisse