Monthly Archives: August 2010

Work in progress

Much to-doings at the moment here at Knitting to Sane, on all fronts. I’m finally having to get down to brass tacks on term prep, as well as a move coming up next week. (Not far, and not requiring furniture, but enough to involve a relocation for the next several months). So there’s lots going on in progress let alone adding the knitting in, which means there is sort of a steady-state level of crazy. But I am telling myself everything will get done and that means it all will get done, right? Right.

On the knitting front, my Lamplight shawl (previous posts) is close to release – it’ll be up at The Sweet Sheep soon, once Michelle has everything back up and running. She’s been a bit delayed coming back from maternity leave but never fear, when the pattern is available you’ll be the first to know!

I am quite excited about the knitting I’m doing at the moment, though, even if it adds more to my to-do list. I’m working on a cardigan with some delicious Merino/Silk DK from Indigodragonfly (don’t worry Kim – the sweater is actually in progress beyond this pile of swatches, I swear), still have the little cashmere sock shawlette for Tanis Fiber Arts, and just finished up another little yet-to-be-revealed thing with llama. I don’t thing regular wool is going to be the same after this. (“What’s the fibre content? Does it have silk or cashmere or llama? Oh no, I couldn’t possibly knit with it then…”)


I tell ya, it’s been a trip realizing that I’ve actually gotten to make friends with the swatching process. You can’t afford not to, while coming up with knitting patterns that other people will end up making. Once the stockinette gauge is nailed down, then it’s a matter of figuring out any stitch patterns and what matches up or feels good with the yarn or with the concept, and that’s led me to situations that I hadn’t anticipated. As for example, the time earlier this week when I’d only gotten half-way through the swatch I was working on, and I already knew at that point that the stitch pattern wasn’t going to do what I wanted it to do, and I had to ask myself “so are you going to finish that swatch anyway?”

I finished the swatch. Most of the time, I finish the swatch. It makes me feel like I’ve gotten a mini accomplishment to work from. Swatches, you’re OK.

Happy knitting this weekend!


Filed under design, swatching

The magical step

Did you know that when you finish knitting your shawl, you can give it a quick bath and then pin it out for blocking, and it changes from being a lump of yarn into being an actual lace shawl?


It’s true. It works every time.


You just can’t make this stuff up.


(Lamplight shawl. Full pattern details coming soon.)


Filed under design, lace


The shawl is now thisclose to being finished. Just a few border rows and a bit of blocking and it’ll be done, and after that a bit more pattern drafting and it’ll be ready to go up for sale over at The Sweet Sheep. I’m happy that it’s almost finished (because then I get to fully show it off, and y’all will get to knit it too, if you should desire), and I can tell that I’m almost there because I’ve started longingly browsing other shawl patterns. Yesterday it was Knitted Lace of Estonia. When I was almost finished knitting my Bridgewater Shawl, I was giving serious contemplation to casting on Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Pi Shawl. (I restrained myself). It’s some strange lace-coloured-classes form of startitis, who can figure it.


On my last post many of you commented on the fact that I am using lifelines. I like lifelines. I’ve often used them while lace knitting because I like the sense of security, and in this instance they have been a great support during the design process. When I’ve gotten to a point in the project when I am happy with it and confident about moving forward from that point at the very least, I string in a lifeline. (Here: some of my Lorna’s Laces shepherd sock remnants. It’s non-grabby, thin, and colourfast, all good qualities in a lifeline). I’ve installed them at several points to support my progress, and it’s also a nice visual reminder of how far I’ve knitted. I like the advantage of knowing that if/when I have to rip something out, I’ll have a secure row of stitches to pick up. This doesn’t mean that my lace knitting is always mistake-free, mind you. I still make mistakes, I just give myself the option of a re-do if it gets to be that bad.


However, I know that there are knitters that don’t use them, and Erin reminded me that this is actually a subject of debate. (I know – a facet of knitting with multiple opinions about it. Shocking, isn’t it? (DPNs vs. Magic Loop. Aaaaand…go!)) So I’m piqued, dear knitting friends, do you use lifelines? Whether you do or don’t, know that I have 100% respect for you either way. But I am curious to know more about what goes into that decision or non-decision.

And in the mean time, I’m looking ahead to the next knitting projects and I think a return to cables, lots more teal green, and more sweaters are on the horizon. Even if fall does bring a return to “real” work for me, I’m happy about cold weather knitting also returning.

Happy knitting!


Filed under design, lace

Process Stories

I am having one of those weeks where, despite devoting a fairly consistent and dedicated level of effort to my knitting, the actual apparent progress is minimal. I am in one of those very necessary phases of design work where I am either doing lots of pre-work (conceptualizing in my head, making notes, flagging stitch patterns in my dictionaries, putting out yarn for the next projects “on deck”, etc), or a lot of process work involving ripping-out and re-knitting and fine tuning. And I’m not exactly a patient person, so this is the most challenging part for me, particularly when it leaves me wringing my hands thinking “but what will I tell the BLOG about? WOE.”


This glove, for example, may look a lot like a cuff instead of an actual glove. But in my head, it is a glove. The design concept is actually pretty simple, and I’m very tickled with it, and I love the yarn (Indigodragonfly MCN Sport, which is actually more like a DK). In material reality, it has been knitted up to the hand once already and then ripped out again while I fine-tune stitch counts and things. Which is good, it’s what needs to happen, but it does wear at one’s patience a bit, particularly when the other main project on my needles has gone through the same thing about three times.

This shawl has done this to me too. It’s going to be great, I am sure of it now – there was a while where I was a bit nervous/terrified that I was going to let Michelle down and I would have to tell her that I was so sorry she had given me some of this beautiful yarn to knit a beautiful shawl with because I am actually secretly just a hack who can’t manage to come up with a triangular shawl pattern despite the fact that zillions (or at the very least dozens) of human beings have done this before me. But no, it’s going to be good now. Plus, she’s got a brand new little kidlet that just arrived a couple of weeks ago who’s now been given an extra dose of hospital care due to illness, so if I can soak up some karmic frustration on her behalf, then well, I am all on that for Michelle.


It’s been a matter of tweaking stitch charts to do what I want them to do (with triangular shawls there is, I have learned through this process, a rise-over-run factor of needing the increase rate to match up with the # of repeating stitches in the chart, but that’s the sort of thing that you don’t necessarily need to care about, because the designer gets to care about it on your behalf, so moving on…), and making sure it looks defined enough and pleasing enough to match up with whatever hairbrained idea I had when I started the project in the first place. Also, let me tell you about how much I adore lifelines. Those lifelines are my rocks. They are the line of cavalry ready to charge down the hill like an unstoppable force of security. I have used them to their full value and I love them and may consider writing poems about them.

Because I think, in the end, the most challenging part of design isn’t the technical aspects (but those really help a lot), or the conceptual work (but I really like having that too); It’s that there is always this x-factor of not being entirely sure what it is that is going to trip you up. There are moments of frustration and even sheer terror that you might, in fact, have gotten it completely wrong and that the design is not going to work or that it might even be terribly uninteresting in the end. But at some point, you just have to suck it up, feel the fear and frustration, and finish it anyway.

Now if I could just manage to successfully apply this wisdom to my real life, I’d be good to go.

Happy knitting, my blog friends! Knit fearlessly this weekend.


Filed under design

What direction was I going again

The good news is, I am back on track with my Royale. I did in fact, rip it back to fix the mistake (The bad news is that in fact, I had to rip back twice, because after ripping back the first time and after resuming knitting it, I realized I hadn’t ripped back far enough the first time, and therefore had to rip out the re-knitted inch or so AND the original mistake, HAH what a fun time that was), and I believe it is all in the clear now. I did debate about it, since – as many of you pointed out last time – the mistake wasn’t as obvious to some people as it was to others. But I want to wear this sweater to Rhinebeck this year, and I realized I would be happier wearing it if I could say “hey, I really like my sweater, I designed it and everything!” instead of “I really like my design, but just pay no attention to the goof-up right over the middle of the front of it, that doesn’t count, lalalallaaa…”


So I ripped it back. And now I think I am in the clear, and am almost back to the point I was at on about Monday or so. Two steps forward, two steps back, some days. Clearly, the fact that the design sample and pattern construction for this sweater was all pleasurable, efficient, and relatively mistake-free, has now come back to bite me on the ass. Let’s hope I’ve appeased the knitting gods for the time being.

Everything else is in a state of being in progress around here. Knitting, writing, the fact that I have to prep lectures and course materials for the coming term (a good thing in that I get to do it in exchange for money, it just requires a bit of mental sucking-it-up to actually get back into the swing of doing it), and it all adds up to me furiously wishing I had something actually done. I miss having finished objects. I’ve had so few of them this summer, despite having many things on the go, and many more design ideas brewing.


Speaking of designs, I’m chugging away on a bit of lace to round out the end of the summer, including finishing up that yellow lacy thing for The Sweet Sheep (still lacy and yellowy, getting bigger), and a new red cashmere thingy which will be for Tanis Fiber Arts for September. (Which, isn’t the fact that it is red and cashmere pretty much all you need to know? I figure, anyway).

And, thankfully, after a 6 month (!) period of neglect, my spinning wheel is still speaking to me.


I’m so glad spinning wheels don’t hold grudges.

Happy knitting to you for the coming weekend! Until next time.


Filed under cables, design, spinning

On deciding how much to care about that

I am moving merrily along on my Royale, and really enjoying it. I had a lot of fun when I knitted it the first time, and even though a second go-around always has a bit less excitement, I’m still really happy to be making one for me. And I like the colour.

And then I looked down at it the other night and realized that apparently I cannot, in fact, get away with neglecting reading my own charts, as much as I thought I could. Somehow I added some extra rows in the second repeat of the middle chart motif. Where the outside rows of the twisty twisty lattice bit should have completely woven towards each other, for some reason I decided to make them go along for a while in the middle for some extra rows.


So now, I am left to consider exactly how much I care about that mistake. I woke up this morning suddenly thinking about it (as one does), and thought “yeah, definitely have to rip it out and knit it over again. I mean, I’ve ripped up more knitting than that before, in the name of mistake-fixing. It can be done. And then I pulled it out and looked at the 3 inches of knitting I would have to undo in order to redo it…and I started bargaining with it. Maybe it will be a unique design feature. Maybe nobody will notice it anyway unless they are looking very hard. I mean, given the scoopneck, people should really be looking at my chest rather than my belly button. Hmm.

Maybe I’ll just go back to knitting a bit of lace while I think about that.


Filed under cables, fearless knitting