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Thursday, February 18, 2016

My Guernsey journey (part 3)

I finished the body a few days ago!  Whew.  I've also done the neck edging and completed one sleeve, but I don't have photos yet of that.  Working on it lately has been a little tricky, because my thumb wanted to bother me (tendon issues that come and go) and we have had unseasonably warm weather the past few days.  I love warmer temperatures, but having a wool/silk sweater on my lap creates a bit more than I need at the moment (the junipers have also woken up with our "early spring," which means I'm in sneeze mode, ugh).  

Here's the front:

Close up of the front yoke panel (Tree of Life) which helped me practice my cables (tinking those rows was not fun, so I learned quickly to be more careful).

I have learned a great deal so far and am really looking forward to finishing and blocking this baby.  And you didn't hear me say this, but I might actually want to do another...

Friday, February 5, 2016

My Guernsey journey (part 2)

I messed up.  Yes, all knitters make mistakes, but this one was a doozy--I reached the point in the Guernsey where the chart has to be read back and forth for right and wrong side rows, as I divided it for front and back and was no longer working in the round (where all the symbols are the right side).  This switch was tricky, after doing thousands of stitches right side only...so I found myself undoing and redoing quite a bit, much to my annoyance.

The chart is rather involved (I can't imagine trying to knit a Guernsey without a chart--it is just as important a tool as yarn and needles), so I didn't want to take time redraw it, but I had to have some way to make myself take notice that I should be working on the wrong side.  At first, I had marked the purls in the pattern with an X, leaving the knit squares blank, but habit from working in the round kept sending me off track.  So after tinking another row of 147 stitches (!), I decided to color in the whole square on the graph paper for the purl stitches on the wrong side.  I got out my pencil and set to work.

I'm still making mistakes.  My next option, then, is to color code using red or a highlighter that will definitely get my attention (because I need a neon "hey!"), and I think I will take the time to do that; in the long run, I need to be sure I will know which row I am on (have I mentioned I don't like tinking at all?).  Should I ever have the urge to do another Guernsey, I will take time before beginning to draw out the charts for both rounds and the back and forth work, having learned my lesson!

Here's the progress before dividing--it's going much faster than I expected. Yay!

Friday, January 22, 2016

My Guernsey journey (part 1)

Inspired by my Scottish friend J, who has knitted some remarkable Guernseys (also called Ganseys, if you're searching them out), I have embarked on making one for myself.  I splurged on yarn, a wool/silk blend from Knit Picks, and started a few days ago. I didn't have the proper needle (one was too short and the other too long), but I was impatient, so I started working on the ribbing for the bottom on the longer needle, going back and forth (the dark line at the top of the photo is the split that will be sewn together later):

I've bought a proper needle and made a bit more progress since then, and so far I am happy with the pattern.  That's a good thing, because working with DK yarn and a size 3 US needle means it will be with me for a while--it builds rather slowly as it requires a denser fabric.  I'll be adding a little "zing" to the yokes when I get there as well by changing the design somewhat (the swatch is in progress now).

While doing my research, one thing I read about this kind of sweater is that the knitter personalizes it by choosing designs that "tell the story."  I spent a few days looking at traditional designs, drawing charts, and knitting swatches before I could decide which ones to include.  Here's what I settled on (and I will get a clearer picture soon):

Diamond, because life can (and should) be rich
Tree of Life, which is self-explanatory (and I have children & grandchildren)
Twisted Panel, because whose life isn't full of twists? (and because I have become a little obsessed of late with the look and possibilities of twisted stitches)
Life Lines, my renamed version of Marriage Lines, to represent ups and downs
Ladder, because we hope always to climb upward (also can represent the desire for Heaven)

The back stories of each of these choices is long and involved, so I won't bore you with them, but going through the process of choosing was itself an interesting exercise.  Who would have thought knitting could be so philosophical?  I probably looked at 50 different knit/purl and cable combinations and knitted samples of about a third of them, thinking about what each one represents and whether it applied to me enough to be "part of my story."  I feel sure that this sweater will be with me for many years and that I'll think about its meaning every time I wear it.  I'm working to focus on the positive with the work as well so that I can associate that with it in the future.

As it builds, I'll add photos, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how it takes shape (and learning a new technique--I've not done a pullover from the bottom up yet).  

For more on this type of knitting, check out Gladys Thompson's book.  Wish me luck for the rest!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Yes, I am still here!

Seeing the date of my last post shocked me.  I get so wrapped up in other things...of course knitting and crochet and all the other crafts I do or try, but life sometimes just passes by and suddenly it's weeks, then months, since the last post.

I'm not going to promise to post more often; I know better.  However, I will post today!

Since last fall, I've published a few new patterns (find me on Ravelry).  I'm currently working on toddler pullovers, per request, for my grandchildren.  The girl's pattern is written and knitted and now in the hands of my capable testers, so it should be out soon.  My knitting friend M, from the forum, told me the flower pattern looks like a Banksia (an Australian flower), and that was a happy accident since I drew the chart from scratch but gave the pattern its name!

The boy's pattern is in its third incarnation now--I think the design is going to work out for this one, but with a repeat of six stitches and ten rows, the increases are proving a bit tricky.  I'll get there.  

I'll also make a note on my calendar not to forget about this blog.  Let's hope it works. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Another autumn approaches!

As the weather cools and the year begins to wind down, many of us turn our thoughts to fall projects (it's finally getting cool enough to hold a larger project on the lap, too!).  I've been thinking lately of making something for myself, something I don't often do.  As I look through cardigan patterns, I have yarn in mind:  I've been sitting on a stash of City Tweed from Knit Picks for a while now and wander the web in search of the perfect pattern for it.  My goal?  One of those wear every day around the house and everywhere else cardigans, the kind that are too comfy to take off but that also look great and instill confidence in the wearer.  Although I haven't found The One yet, I feel sure I'll know it when I see it...and maybe I'll even design it.  Over the summer, I've been working on some baby sweaters but after knitting four models and doing a workshop on the same pattern, I want to do a different pattern.  

Baby XO Sweater, now on Ravelry

Maybe I'll practice cables again, though Guernseys also appeal to me, or maybe I'll do a simple lace.  One can find so many choices!  I'm toying with an idea of changing a pullover into a cardigan, too, as I am fond of the trim but not terribly fond of pullovers.  The pattern still needs a little proofing and then I'll post pictures of that (I hope to release it soon).

Mostly right now I'm just wandering in the possibilities, which is sometimes as much fun as knitting an actual project... :)

Friday, October 19, 2012

From heel to head--a stocking-turned-hat

I made my granddaughter's Christmas stocking a few days ago, in two colors and similar to the one I made for her brother last year.  

A couple more scrappy hats along with the stocking

The pattern got made up as I went along...and then I thought the leg of the stocking might make a good hat, and that writing it down might also be a good idea.  So...this hat is worked from the bottom up and is good practice for two color knitting. I used leftovers from the stocking, so you don't need much yarn--you could get even more creative and do each section of blocks in different colors if you like!
The smidge you see in the lower right corner is also a hat done with the same yarns--a crochet version that didn't turn out quite the way I wanted.
The pattern:

Materials:  worsted or light worsted weight yarn, 1 skein each of two colors (Model uses Red Heart Shimmer in Shamrock [color A] and Caron Simply Soft Party in Purple Sparkle [color B]; you will have quite a bit left over as well); 16” size 8 circular needle and dpns OR long circular needle if using Magic Loop, stitch marker

Gauge:  (not crucial but offered here as a guideline):  19 sts = 4” in stockinette stitch, working in round
NOTE:  For smaller hats (infant/child size), use smaller yarn and needles.   


Cast on 76 sts with color B. Being careful not to twist the work, join into a round and place a marker for end of round. Knit one round. At end of round, join color A (you can choose to carry the yarn you are not using up as you go or you can break color B and join it again later).

Using color A, work 5 rounds as follows: *K1, p1. Repeat from * around.
Using color B, knit 3 rounds even.
Next round: *With color B, k2. With color A, k2. Repeat from * around.
Repeat the last round twice more.
With color B, knit 3 rounds even.
With color A, knit 3 rounds even.
Next round: *With color A, k2. With color B, k2. Repeat from * around.
Repeat the last round twice more.
With color A, knit 3 rounds even.
With color B, knit 3 rounds even.
Next round: *With color B, k2. With color A, k2. Repeat from * around.
Repeat the last round twice more.
With color B, knit 3 rounds. Increase twice in the 3rd round as follows: [K37, kfb] twice (78 sts).
Break color B and continue working with color A. Knit 4 rounds even.
Begin decreases for crown:
Round 1: *K11, k2tog. Repeat from * around (72 sts).
Rounds 2 and all even numbered rounds: Knit.
Round 3: *K10, k2tog. Repeat from * around (66 sts).
Round 5: *K9, k2tog. Repeat from * around (60 sts).
Round 7: *K8, k2tog. Repeat from * around (54 sts).
Round 9: *K7, k2tog. Repeat from * around (48 sts).
Round 11: *K6, k2tog. Repeat from * around (42 sts).
Round 13: *K5, k2tog. Repeat from * around (36 sts).
Round 15: *K4, k2tog. Repeat from * around (30 sts).
Round 17: *K3, k2tog. Repeat from * around (24 sts).
Round 19: *K2, k2tog. Repeat from * around (18 sts).
Round 21: *K1, k2tog. Repeat from * around (12 sts).
Round 23: *K2tog. Repeat from * around (6 sts).

Knit one more round; bind off and break yarn. Thread a yarn needle with tail and draw through, pulling tight to close up hole. Weave in ends.

I've uploaded the corrected version--and I apologize for not proofing better!  I'd also love to see pictures of the projects if you make one! 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Yarn in the Kitchen

 Once in a while, I come across something I just have to try.  This time, I couldn't wait to give this a go:  Food Coloring and Yarn!

I can't expand on those directions, as they're terrific, so check out that post.  It took very little time and I loved seeing the colors change.  I waited until all the green got absorbed, then stirred the yarn around a little to find undyed parts, added blue and let the yarn soak it up, then threw in the yellow.  Here's what I ended up with.

This was a great way to get rid of a leftover box of food coloring--and a skein of Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool that I bought a while back (it was half price, and even though I had no clue what to do with it...well, if you're a yarnie, you know how that works).  I have always loved the idea of dyeing my own yarn, but I hate using chemicals and haven't learned enough about natural dyes to do much yet.  This seemed like the perfect medium to work with, since my last attempt (Kool-Aid dyeing) didn't turn out exactly as I would have liked (I think I needed more Kool-Aid and patience that time--I still have the yarn and will probably redo it to make the color more uniform and darker--sometimes, going for variegated doesn't work).

I wonder what this will knit up into?  I hope to find out soon!

Yesterday, I did some yarn inventory, too.  My stash dwindles a bit, but I haven't panicked yet; I have a good bit left and that will likely get me through the winter (two large totes should hold me a while).  I was amazed at how small but heavy a ball one gets from 1600 yards of lace weight (shot put, anyone?!).  I'll have more to say about that later, naturally...once that yarn decides what it wants to be.  :)

Currently, the project design underway is a triangle shawl worked in the round (I know, sounds weird!).  We'll see if and how my charting skills have improved shortly...

Until next time, keep 'em clicking!