Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bam Bam A-Ree Bam A-Ram Bamboo

A request for a pair of birthday socks sent me to my cedar chest. That's where my yarn waits to be used.

This photo represents about a third of the chest, the part where I keep the sock yarns.

I keep them in three different bags: the brown and cream yarn is in the eh-it-was-a-bargain-so-I-bought-it bag, the flowered bag is the excuse-me-but-this-is-hand-dyed bag, the blue yarns you see are a heavier fingering weight for maybe socks or maybe baby garments. The arrow? It's pointing to the yarn I needed for the birthday socks, the bamboo sock yarns.

We are big fans of bamboo yarn in this house, especially for socks.
"The fiber contains an antibacterial and bacteriostasis bioagent that stays in the fiber even after the garment has been washed fifty times... The fiber's cell structure is made of microscopic holes that provide for extremely rapid moisture absorption and evaporation, giving it an excellent ability to breathe." -Clara Parkes in The Knitter's Book of Yarn

No wonder I have a nice stash of the stuff. Want a closer look? You can click any photo to make bigger.

The orange variegated is a 400-yard skein of Sugar Bunny Boulevard's Emeline (55% bamboo, 24$ cotton, 21% elastic)in the Spice colorway. It's sprongy to the touch, thanks to all that elastic. One of the blues in there is Regia Bamboo Color (45% bamboo, 40% wool, 15% polyamid and the other is Pandal Wool (51% bamboo, 39% wool, 10% nylon). The white is Panda Cotton (59% bamboo, 25% cotton, 16% elastic nylon.

It being a February birthday these socks are for, I decided on a hefty mix of wool and bamboo, Boo Fly Sock (60% superwash merino, 30% bamboo, 10% nylon) in the Woodland colorway. More about that tomorrow.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Heart to Heart Scarf

I started this project with the laceweight called for in the pattern. Sadly, my lace-knitting mojo had temporarily deserted me. Everytime I frogged or tinked back, the laceweight was looking shabbier and shabbier.

This had nothing to do with the quality of Sivia Harding’s instructions. They are flawless and easy to understand. It was totally me.

I cast on with some DK-weight Malabrigo Silky Merino I had in my stash but kept the #3 needles. The idea was to practice until I understood the pattern. The heavier yarn could be frogged and tinked until Kingdom Come. Later, I would begin over with the laceweight.

After one repeat of the pattern in the DK-weight, my lace-knitting mojo had returned after one repeat of the pattern in the DK. Instead of setting it aside and casting on with the laceweight, I was liking the way it looked in the heavier yarn.

So, I kept on knitting, no beads. And here you have the result. I love it.
Since January is for Selfish Knitting, the scarf is for me. Thanks to my daughter Cleo for modeling it for the camera.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I've Got Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

Talkin' about my yarn (my yarn, my yarn). Another wonderful package from the Knit Purl Sock Club came in the mail today. They even sent chocolates and caramels, too! (Click on any of these photos to make them bigger.)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Unintended Knitting

When I started on Sivia Harding's long crescent-shaped shawlette Heart to Heart with the correct lace-weight yarn and the little silver-lined crystal round 8/0 beads, my lace-knitting mojo abandoned me. Pretty soon, that beautiful lace-weight yarn began to look tatty from all the knitting and unknitting.

So I cast on with a stronger DK-weight yarn, Malabrigo Silky Merino (51% silk, 49% merino). I kept the #3 needles only because they've got really sharp points on 'em, which is terrific for knitting lace.

The thing was, I liked the way the Heart to Heart was looking in that thicker yarn on needles smaller than you'd normally use. See how texturelicious the garter stitch part is?

And how about that edging, eh? You can really see why it's called "Heart to Heart".

Monday, January 11, 2010

My cousin Mitzi found this blog through facebook. Hi Mitzi and do
you know that our granny taught me how to knit? I was five or six years old. We knit a pair of stockings and garters for the front legs of my cat.

Yes, we actually put them on her. They stayed on for a little while, too, because of the garters.

It was a nothing project, a bagatelle. It still makes me laugh 45+ years later.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Angularity Vest

Do you know Knitcircus Magazine? It's out of Madison, Wisconsin and a bit difficult to find in shops. No longer a problem! They're going to publish online as of February this year.

Let me show you something I knit from a Knitcircus pattern. This is the Angularity Vest by Elizabeth Morrison. I made it for Tom's Christmas present in Jo Sharp Classic DK Wool in a deep teal called China.

It's a classic v-neck updated with a zigzag twisted stitch, very simple, very vertical, very clean.

This was fun to knit and had very clear and concise directions. It's just a great pattern that deserves to be popular. With digital publication next month, my guess is it's going to be.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Practice Lace

January is for Selfish Knitting. I'm knitting for myself this month.

To that end, I have Sivia Harding's Heart to Heart scarf pattern, the right lace needles, and the right yarn
The pattern takes 400 yards. That translates to one skein Mama Llama Cashmere in Blush Pink.

So soft. So pretty.

I sneered at the Real Old-Fashioned Winter outside the window and sat down in my chair. I:
- read the pattern notes
-cast on the ten stitches that begin the pattern
- went through the set-up rows.

Uh oh. It wasn't right. A better description than "went through" would be "muddled through". Now, please know that there is nothing wrong with Sivia Harding's directions. They are just fine.

It was me. I:
- frogged the set-up rows
- and tried again.

It was a little better until I continued on to the actual body of the scarf.

Ugh, no good. I frogged again.

Temporary missing lace-knitting mojo + lace-weight cashmere = bad idea. Instead and for the third time, I:
- cast on the ten stitches that begin the pattern.

The difference was that, this time, I put aside the lace-weight cashmere for a more robust yarn from my stash, Mmmmmmmalabrigo Silky Merino. It's 51% silk and 49% merino in a DK weight. The color is Green Gray; I'd say more muted turquoise than either green or gray.

- wrestled that lace into submission!

The scarf is divided into three sections: a tubular edge (orange arrow), a garter-stitch center (purple arrow), and a border of heart lace (pink arrow). The pattern has 16 rows and is really simple, once it's clear which direction you're knitting in. The garter-stitch center will gradually grow from its original 3 stitches to 31 stitches, then narrow again.

It's one of Sivia Harding's most beautiful designs. And yes, because it's designed by Sivia Harding, it's intended to be beaded. For the eventual blush-pink cashmere version, I have silver-lined crystal beads. The orange dots show how they'll be placed. (You can click any photo to make bigger.)

Working lace in dk-weight put in mind something Jared Flood wrote in Made in Brooklyn:
Oh how I love working up lace in dk and worsted weight yanrs - I love seeing the construction of the work, direction of stitches and the 'pop' of a lace pattern in these heavier-than-traditional yarns.

I'm a little obsessed by the prettiness of the Heart to Heart Scarf in the Malabrigo. Back to knitting so I have some more to show you tomorrow!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

The Science of Socks: Vinifera

The Christmas knitting done, did I cast on for something lacey and luscious like an Estonian shawl?

Okay, I did.

Did I cast on for something practical yet challenging like a Bohus cap in handspun and carefully-dyed angora and wool?

Yeppers on that one, too. I'll show them to you in the next couple of days.

And yet the knitting decks were not perfectly clear when I cast on for the Estonian thing and the Bohus thing. One small, unfinished project still needed my attention: the November installment of the Knit Purl Sock Club.

The yarn is Abstract Fiber Super Sock in the exclusive colorway Pinot Noir. If you like sock yarn, you'll enjoy the Abstract Fiber site. It's nice stuff, 100% superwash merino, 380 yards per skein.

The colorway for the sock club, a combination of black, merlot, and olive doesn't really say "Socks to wear to a wine tasting!" to me. It says more "Socks to wear to watch the movie 'Nightmare before Christmas'!".

There's no doubt that wine inspired the pattern, though. Vinifera by Miriam Felton runs twisted ribs the length of the sock. The interesting vineyard detail is at the top of the leg: grapes. Each grape is a m5 in one stitch followed by a few rows of k, then finished up with a sl2 k3tog p2sso. I've drawn an arrow to one of the grapes. They are staggered over the first five inches.

Can you spot a few more grapes? It's not easy in the photo or in person. I count four and a half grapes in this photo. I think.

I absolutely love this sock club. It's one big stretching exercise, something that never hurts when you're talking about knitting.