Sunday, November 30, 2008

Project Update and darn it, I just like yarn.

The chenille scarf found a home, and the purse is on track for the next class. I started some more contract knitting. It is Jeanne Abel's Turn Again Tote that is two bags knitted in one, with the stitches of each interlaced to form pockets all the way around. Very cool. I'm finding that I like test and sample knitting. Sometimes I don't want to make it up as I go and really enjoy knitting other designs, especially if they are really good designs. So, I'm hopeful that more of that will come my way.

Class went well on Tuesday, with 8 students in attendance and everyone game for the challenge of the first bit of the pattern. It is knit in the round and is one of those shifting patterns. Those patterns are challenging the first time around because they are so counter-intuitive.

This week, with some time off school and a break in the routine, I pulled out an entire closet full of yarn and projects. Oh. My. It was tempting to just give up, acknowledge that perhaps I'm mentally ill, and box it all up for the Salvation Army. Then I started looking through it and fell in love all over again. I just really like yarn, okay? In the end, what I did was give away about two smallish boxes worth (they'll head to the prison project in SD) and got rid of a whole bunch of bags. More yarn will fit on the shelves without the bags there taking up space. I felt very clever when I figured that out. So, I fit everything back in, made it beautiful to look at, and in the end felt quite sane, and even virtuous, thank you very much. My yarn is much prettier than any old coin collection, any day of the week.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Week of Projects

The stash is mocking me, even as I get new yarn as gifts and actually buy stuff at Stitches. What is up with me??? It's time to get busy. So here we have one quick finished project and two in process, all with a story.

Circular Mistake Stitch Cowl
This is made from gorgeous mystery yarn purchased for me by Chris in Argentina a couple of years ago. It is silky and has a wonderful halo, like mohair, but has a thin binder thread that could be cotton or tightly spun wool. It feels good on the skin and was a very quick knit. I used 7 mm needles and got about 3 sts to the inch.

Mistake Stitch is one of my favorites. When knitted flat, it has the elegance of only one pattern row: Cast on a multiple of 4+1. (Knit 2, purl 2) across, end knit 1. Repeat. It morphs from plain jane 2x2 ribbing into a wonderfully squishy single rib with seed stitch panels in between. Yummy.
I read somewhere (that I can't remember) that it can't be done circularly. Well, not with one pattern round, but of course it can be done in two. The way I do it, I cast on an even multiple of 4 and work the following two rounds. First: (Knit 2, purl 2) around, then the second: Purl 1, (knit 2, purl 2) around, end purl 1. It looks and acts exactly the same unless you look very closely and notice there is a bit of confusion at the beginning and end of the round.

It ended up about 15 inches long with the one, precious skein that I had, and I've already worn it a couple of times under my winter coat. It was a wonderful foil to the highs of 30 and 40 degrees we've been having this week. If I were to do it over, I'd make it with less circumference and more length so I could also use it as a hood. It will go up onto my head, but there is not enough collar left round the neck to be warm. I can flip it up to cover my ears though and it looks quite nice. I used a long tail cast on and my unvented version of the sewn bind-off:

Kellie's Sewn Bind-off
1. Cut a tail about 3 times the length of edge to be bound off.
2. Thread tail onto tapestry needle
3. Go into second stitch on left needle knitwise, making sure to go only through one stitch and to the back, not through two.
4. Go into first stitch on left needle purlwise and take it off. (If working in the round, on this first stitch ONLY, place it on the right needle so you'll work into it again at the end, fusing your edge into an endless circle. )

Repeat steps 3 and 4, ignoring the parenthetical note from here on out.

I know, I need to put up some photos. I would have while the above was in process, but the yarn and needles did not lend themselves to clear demonstration.

Next we have...
The Double Take Sac in Williamsburg Wool

This is for class on Tuesday, so I don't have to have it all done, but I've gotten through the first two charts in good time. Actually I had started this months ago, when the class was first proposed, and now that the class actually looms, it's time to get serious. The yarn was purchased two years ago in Williamsburg and comes from those charming sheep that wander around the grounds down there. They have it commercially spun and it is quite nice. A bit hairy and hard to go next to the skin unless one is living in Revolutionary times, but I think it will make a nice purse. I'll line it to offset the stretchiness of the wool, but knitted on size 2's, it is actually quite nice and firm. The pattern is from the Spring 2001 Interweave knits and sadly, is not up as a pattern to purchase yet, because naturally that issue is sold out. It is a great study in textured stitches and bag architecture. The designer is Mary Nickol. Interweave couldn't find her when I contacted them for permission to use the pattern, so if you know her, let me know-I'd love to get in touch with her.

Lastly, we have...

Blue Heron Chunky Chenille Scarf
Not much explanation needed here-my dead simple, next to the bed project, going quite quickly in seed stitch on size 7 needles and 31 sts. I'll have plenty of length when I'm done. Several friends have exclaimed over it when they've seen me working on it in public, so I think it is destined to be gifted to one of its admirers. This is yummy yarn in yummy colors-pure knitting for its own sake for a tactile person like me. I have several other scarves in this same yarn and they are favorites.