Friday, July 29, 2005


I finished knitting up Soul the other day, and gave it a preliminary seaming. Alas, it needs adjustment. The dimensions are fine, but the ribbed center sections (as opposed to the cabled side sections) are too stretchy, so it sags almost immediately, since the garment is supported at the bust, and the ribs are a weak spot. All that negative ease goes right out the window, and the fit goes to hell. Plus, the stretched-out ribs aren't very attractive:

Options I'm considering:

- redesigning with fewer ribs. This would make the ease more negative, but would still have the ugly stretched-out rib problem.

- redesigning with a stiffer center section (i.e., cables). I really liked the verticals up the center, though. Sniff, sniff.

- redesigning with twisted-stitch ribs. I started reading Knitting Without Tears the day after I finished knitting Soul, and EZ mentioned that twisting the stitches in a rib will tighten it up. It sounds like a particularly elegant solution, if it will stiffen it enough. AND, if I go super-secret-ninja, I could drop one stitch, let it fall all the way down, and then pick it back up, twisted. It would take a while, but I wouldn't actually have to frog...
*Not that I don't enjoy frogging...*
Then again, all the other options involve frogging completely, so maybe I should try this option first, and see how it goes...

Friday, July 22, 2005

Must... Resist... Buying... More... Yarn...!

Ugh. Yarn is tempting me. I ordered some Shine from Knitpicks last week, which is in the mail now. I will be using it for a Soleil, and I got some extra to make a matching cardigan and perhaps some kind of striped tank top. Yay, more projects!

And then, I stumbled upon Tivoli, a pattern for a great cap-sleeved tee by Grumperina. And the lovely example that CMEKnits made in Shine... In that lovely Orchid color that would look so great on me...

Sigh. I should not spend any more money on yarn right now, d*mn it!

Luckily, the reasons I'm leaning towards frugality are very happy: I've just signed up for classes at the School of Fashion Design. I am very very psyched about this; I've always been interested in design, but figured that, of all the things I was interested in, engineering was the hardest to do as a hobby, so that's what I studied. Lately, though, I've been having ideas that I don't have the skills to execute to my satisfaction. So formal education it is! I'll be taking Clothing Construction I and Patternmaking I. SOFD's classes are all for credit, rather than adult ed. This means that, if I happen to feel like taking all the required classes, I could end up with a certificate. (Not that I actually intend to work in the fashion industry, but recognition is always nice, and it does mean I could get a third degree without all those bothersome qualifiers...) The downside of that is that you don't get a nice "not for credit" discount. And let me tell you, tuition, supplies and fees add up to a LOT of yarn!

Then again, I do need some summer tops, and Shine is so cheap that it wouldn't cost any more than buying it...

Maybe I'll be good and wait until I've had a chance to swatch up the Shine I've already ordered. That sounds like a good compromise to me. :)

Monday, July 18, 2005

Visions of surfaces dance in my head

So, every once in a while, something happens to you that profoundly changes your understanding of a topic. The last time this happened to me was in the summer of 2000. I was an advanced beginner bellydancing student at the time, and bought Serious Belly Dance, an instructional video by Tamalyn Dallal. This video was too hard for me at the time, but just watching it opened my eyes to a more three-dimensional way to move the hip.

I had a similar experience in knitting this weekend. As I posted recently, I'm working on Soul from Rowan's Calmer Collection by Kim Hargreaves. It's my first time using cables and they're really cool. But it was a different pattern that gave me that lightbulb moment, Whisper:

The ripple effect on the collar, cuffs, and hem are created by picking up stitches several rows below the current one, creating a tuck. This completely blew my mind. I have worked with (and adore) short rows, but even then, you're still working on one row at a time (although inserting new ones), and creating one continuous surface at a time. In Whisper, you're working in two rows at once to pinch different parts of a surface together.

Wow. Must contemplate this for a while. Preferably with 11 more balls of Calmer in my stash...

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Harry Potter Progress

I am one lucky knitter: I have a (brand new) husband who reads to me. This rocks, since it means that I get to knit, and read a book, and spend quality time with my husband all at once. Mmm-mmm.

We got our copy of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince at midnight on Friday (the official release date, in our area), went home, and he read me the first three chapters that night, while I cast on for Soul, and did the first ribbed sections. We spent the whole weekend reading, and finished around 6pm today (Sunday). In that time, I made about 2" of Soul, and (figuring that it was too big), frogged it. (WOOHOO!) Then I made about 5" of Soul in a smaller size, before realizing that cables cinch in the fabric, so I was right the first time, and frogged again. (WOOHOO!) Then I got through two and a half pattern repeats, to form about 1/2 of the front of Soul, now (appearing to be) beautifully sized.

This is my first foray into cables, and I have to say, I LOVE them! They take some getting used to, but they keep the brain occupied wiithout too much frustration, at least when using a pattern as regular as this one. Plus, what a sense of accomplishment!

Here are some pics;

Harry Potter Progres (frogged sections not shown)

Lovely Cables

Closeup of lovely cables

Tasty, tasty yarn.

And now, the pics of Paris Loop that I promised:

For posterity, before I frog back to the halfway point to fix it. See what I mean about it being too loose in the upper sections?

Closeup of purl-to-knit transition.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Loops and Una

So, I went to my very first MIT Stitch & Bitch at lunch today. Here are some highlights:

- I got some input on the Paris Loop. In fact, Katie had already made one. The consensus was that it was worth re-knitting. I have decided to knit it in 4 sections, so I'm going to try: size 15, size 11, size 10, size 8 (rather than 15, 11, 11, 9).

- Several of the women were working with the Magic Loop technique. I used this on Sitcom Chic's sleeves, and I liked it very much, but found that I got some laddering at the loop point. Katy suggested changing the location of the loop every round (i.e., having the loop come from between a different pair of stitches each time). Lightbulb!

- I saw, for the first time in-person, KnitPicks Shine I am in LOVE! It's incredibly soft, has a gorgeous sheen, and it's CHEAP. You can actually make a full-sized garment at a reasonable price. I've been meaning to give design another try, and I think this will make a good medium.

And now, for no reason, some eye candy:

Una, sleeping and shedding simultaneously (she's very talented) on a wedding gift.

Paris Loop, found a knitting group!

(That rhymes, Marge, and you know it does!)

I just finished Paris Loop by Glampyre.

The Yarn: Rowan Cotton Braid in Matisse (4 balls, with less than 5 yards remaining)

Needles: Circulars in 15, 11, 9 (using my Denise set). I had some trouble measuring gauge accurately on this yarn, which resulted in a couple of frogging sessions (at the 5" and 10" points).

Pattern: available for free at Magknits This is a pretty easy pattern. If you can make rectangles and are willing to try circular knitting, you can do this.

Alterations: Since I was using a totally different yarn, I had to reengineer it a bit. I cast on 75 stitches, and made each section 5" instead of making the middle two 7".

Notes: The yarn is a bit tricky to work with, since it's easy to snag the ric-rac loops by accident. Once you get used to it, it's not bad. It makes a nice, terrycloth-feeling fabric, which keeps me warm in air conditioning, but is very light and breathable (yay, natural fibers). It will frog, but does suffer a teensy bit. The ric-rac loops can get pulled out of shape. I found that it works best if you hold onto the central (linen) strands firmly, and close to the stitch you're undoing. Also, be sure to pull slowly and gently.

Results: I didn't get as strong an a-line shape as Stephanie (the designer), so it's a little clingier at the lower edge, and a little looser at the upper edge than I'd like. The whole thing is also a bit long, although it may just be lacking support at the shoulder, because it's too loose at the top. Still, it is cute, and it does keep me warm. Pictures coming soon.

Dilemma: Do I keep this it as-is, or do I frog half-way, and try it with smaller needes for the middle and top sections?

This was an "I want to wear that" project, and it is wearable, but not exactly the way I want. However, I'm getting bored with this pattern, especially after having frogged significant amounts twice, so if I frog now, I'm not sure I'd get around to redoing it for a while. And I kind of need to wear it now, with the insanely chilly air conditioning in my office... Sigh.

On a brighter note, I discovered a Stitch & Bitch on campus, which is meeting today, so I can ask them for their opinion on the frogging issue. That's:

Friday, July 08, 2005

New pictures of Asana, and new yarn!

I have some brand-new pictures of Asana, which I wore on my wedding day, along with Sitcom Chic. Here's one:

That's Sitcom Chic on the table behind me.

You can find the more in our gallery on James' web site
Also featured in the Asana shots are my bridesmaids and stepmother. They were taken by my good friend, brilliant photographer, and PhD student, James W. Anderson. James was not the official photographer; he was there as a guest. The gallery is just stuff he snapped throughout the day!

If you're looking for a photographer (knitwear designers, I'm talking to you!), I highly, HIGHLY recommend James:
Wedding Photography
Fashion Photography
He works in Southern California, but will travel.

I also took a trip to Woolcott & Co in Harvard Square, to spend the gift certificate that was a birthday present from my lovely mother:

I haven't taken my own pics yet, but here's what I got:

1-Rowan Calmer (mostly cotton, some microfiber, nice and elastic):

(note: the next four images are copied from The Knitting Garden's web site. They have a nice online store. I bought my GGH Soft Kid and Rebecca #29 from them.)

I got color 482, "powder puff":

I'm going to use it to make Soul from the Rowan Calmer Collection:

This will be my first foray into cables, and I'm very excited. I'm probably not going to use sheer fabric for the yoke. I'd rather have something that hides bra straps.
Besides, chiffon + pink = just a little too frou-frou for me.

2- Rowan Cotton Braid (Cotton/Viscose/Linen)

This is color 352, Matisse. I didn't care for it on the ball, but Woolcott's had a nice swatch, and it made a nice, bouncy, fluffy and BREATHABLE fabric.

I'm going to use it for the Paris Loop capelet by Glampyre:

(pattern free online at Magknits)

I swatched it and cast-on last night. The ric-rac-style loops make it tricky to work with (and especially cast-on with), but I'm getting used to it. I have to go at a slower pace, but since it's so fluffy, it actually works up pretty quickly.

Paris Loop is part of Project Keep Jessica From Dying of Hypothermia at Work. My desk is in the coldest part of the building, and I'm always FREEZING. I'm looking forward to this one because it should be fluffy and warm, but breathe well enough for summer wear. My pink Clapotis capelet was the first part of PKJFDHW, but since my wardrobe is dominated by red and turquoise, it's not particularly versatile.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Pictures! Rebecca Wrap! Clapotis capelet!

Woohoo! My (brand new) husband just bought a new digital camera (although I _still_ haven't replaced mine), so I finally have pictures to share of all the projects I've been describing these six+ months. I've inserted them into the relevant entries.

Recently Finished:


The Yarn:

Shimmer from Over the Rainbow
This is NOT the lace-weight Shimmer from Knit Pics that people have been talking about on the Clapotis 2005 knit-along. ( Shimmer is a hand-painted Rayon/Silk blend, that knits more-or-less worsted. The colorway is called Shell. I bought two skeins of it (8oz each) with the intention of making a full-sized Clapotis wrap. Since it was an auction, the price varies. I think bidding started at $18 per skein, and I won it at $21.33 per skein. That's INSANELY cheap, compared to Lion & Lamb or Silk Garden. I think I used size 8's, but I could be misremembering. I'll check on that (and on my gauge) and report back.

A Problem:
The colorways on the two skeins were actually quite different. The first (the one in the ebay picture) was predominantly peach with pink and raspberry tones and a touch of delicate yellow. The pinks in the second were much paler, and almost white in sections. Furthermore, yellow was the most predominant color. I figured I'd be able to tone it down by doing two rows from one ball, and then two from another, but I just didn't like the bolder yellow. Here are some swatches I made with the overly-yellow ball:

Don't like the colors, but look at that sheen!

The swatch, by the way, is stockinette followed by garter rib, since I was thinking about making another Asana.

Love my Denise set!

NOTE: I like to complain. This should not be interpretted as a bad review of the vendor. This is a gorgeous yarn, and variations among hand-painted skeins are to be expected. I could have asked the vendor to exchange it, but I only decided that I didn't want it after working with it, so I didn't feel comfortable asking them to take it back. I will definitely use this vendor (and this yarn) again. I will just pay better attention before I start swatching. :)

The Solution:
I frogged. WooHoo! Then I knit up as much as I could, making it shorter and narrower than the pattern called for. The result was big enough to wrap around my shoulders, but had no "tail", and had to be tucked in to be secured. Still, it had a lovely drape, so I tried a bunch of different wrapping variations. My favorite looked quite a lot like a capelet, so I decided to seam it up. IMHO, it looks fabulous. Now I just need more pink clothing...


Laid flat

Close-up (this is the truest shot of the color I could get)

Clapotis on, point in front/side

Clapotis on, point in back and off-center

Leftover Yarn Needs a Home:
As I mentioned, I didn't care for the second skein of yarn, which had much bolder yellows in it. If you like it, I'd be happy to part with it. You would get 8oz. of yarn, which the vendor says is about 500 yds. It is enough to make my capelet or a Clapotis in a "typical" scarf size (as opposed to the big, wrap-sized scarf the pattern produces). If you're interested, make me an offer. I paid $21.33 for each skein; tell me you think is fair. I'd also consider a yarn swap! Send me comments, or email me at (the six letters preceeding in my URL)

On the Needles:

Rebecca #12 Wrap With Sleeves - available online for FREE

The Yarn:
GGH Soft Kid in white. I just love this yarn. It's the first luxurious yarn I ever bought in quantity (and my first triple-digit yarn purchase), and I am really pleased. It's very fine and takes some getting used to, but it feels wonderful in your hands and against your face. Sigh.

This gorgeous yarn posing on my handiwork

The yarn tag, just in case you're interested

My Progress:
I've got one sleeve done (although I forgot to photograph it), and about a foot and a half of the wrap. The sleeves are done in stockinette, and the wrap is Fisherman's Rib. I had a lot of trouble interpretting the instructions for the rib, and am still not sure I got it right. I really like how my version looks, though, and I'm getting the right gauge, so I don't really care. :) I'll post my interpretation of the instructions in a later post. I need some lunch!

Some Pics:

My handiwork

Fisherman's Rib close-up