Wednesday, March 30, 2011

London calls, I knit an answer.

Last Summer, when I was purchasing a Fall Vogue Knitting magazine, the lys owner playfully slapped the issue into my hand, singing out the issue masthead, "London calling!" How prophetic she was! London was not only calling me with the cover shot of the beautiful blue cardigan, it was calling me for a visit. Yipee, I'm going to London next month. I see it's chilly there, so I knitted a little something.

I'm afraid my tolerance for dignified colors had been worn out by the last two shawls I knit. This one is much brighter, using the two different stitch patterns in the Citron pattern to combine two different yarns. I thought I had chosen a sedate burgundy hank of Ultra Alpaca Fine to tone down the Noro Kureyon Sock, but it looks very purple in the clear light of Spring. This is the Noro I recently complained about--it was too inelastic and too muddy in color for the striped knee socks I had planned. I knew it would also be too itchy for a shawl. At least the lack of elasticity gave me confidence that the curling edge would block out.

As it did. Mixing in the alpaca makes for a more wearable shawlette. It's not itchy at all and counteracts the itchiness of the Noro. I worked around the colors a lot, even ripping out and discarding some colors that were a bit too bright. I knew the stripes were inevitable, though. The last rows are around 600 stitches long, since I added a sixth repeat.

What with the pink and green, it's looking much more like a watermelon, rather than a Citron.

I think it will be the right weight to ward off a draft on the plane. It's small enough so that I can wear it inside my jacket, or just stick it in the pocket if it gets warm. It's easy to wear, but could be a little too bright for London.

Maybe it will warm up a bit before I get there. If so, I'll save this for the states next fall.

I'll be spending a couple of days in London, three days in Cambridge and then back to London for a day before my return flight. Please comment if you have suggestions for things I should see or do.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Edited Orange Stripes are burning

My regular readers are probably darned tired of reading about my one sock pattern, Burning Stripes. However, I figure that if I can stand to knit it again, they can stand to see it again. Truth is, I'm a little surprised to find that I still enjoyed knitting the sixth pair in this pattern--6 and one-half would be the accurate count, considering the adventure in skein-splitting last summer that produced three socks from one skein. That I did enjoy them--that's the real story here.
First off, I loved that I used yarn I liked a little to make socks I like a lot.

Knitting these was my kind of fun. Although they might look like the usual striped socks, there's more to them than you'd think. I began with a two-stranded tubular cast-on, mastering that technique and evaluating it. It is stretchier than the twisted German cast-on I've been using. It does look nice with 1x1 ribbing. I've even learned how to adapt it to 2x2 ribbing (nothing complicated there, just switching the stitches around on the needle before you work them). I'll certainly use it again for ribbed cuffs. However, I don't like the look of 1x1 twisted ribbed cuffs on a plain stockinette sock. It just doesn't flow.

I enjoyed mixing in a quieter color and editing out abrupt color changes to calm the loud stripes. I could swap to a solid color when a stripe ended, thereby maintaining that elusive sense of control that I lose when knitting self-striping yarn.

Another technique I tried was reversing the second half of the boomerang heel to put the smooth side of the stockinette against the sole of my foot. That it made the seam line stand out more was just a bonus. In spite of that, I can't feel it when I walk on it. In fact, since the bulk of the seam line yarn is on the outside and not the inside of the sock, it is even less noticeable.

I took extra pains to match the stripe pattern when starting the second sock. After the heel, I wanted to see how the stripes would look unedited--that is, without the plain orange alternating. I don't like the effect as well, even though I still removed the odd bits of pink. I'm glad I tried it, though, because it perfectly illustrates the difference between the separated stripes and non-separated ones, all in the same socks. The difference is more obvious when comparing the knit side of the foot with the leg.

I mean, I think it really makes a difference, but am aware that I might be the only one who appreciates it. On reflection, I now realize that I took a lot of extra time and trouble to make a pair of socks that look very little different than they would have if I had just knit them plain, easily and quickly. If I look at the result, a pair of rather obnoxious orange socks, I can't say it was worth it. However, when I think back to how much I enjoyed working out the issues, controlling the colors and putting my own twist on orange stripes, I realize the fun was in the knitting as much as the wearing. I really enjoy the process more when it includes a problem to solve, even if the only problem is satisfying myself.

Regardless of the effort, the matching stripes in the legs and the cute pink toes tickle me to death. I've been wearing them a lot. They're perfect.

Try these links for the two-stranded tubular cast-on:

Part I

Part II

I'll be working out the directions for reversing the second half of the heel--maybe as a pattern addendum.
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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Knitting the other one and a half shawls

Lambspun alpaca, a local Colorado product available from the fabulous Lambspun yarn shop in Ft. Collins, inspired this shawl. The yarn is available large hanks -- 665 yards of fingering weight alpaca. First I bought the black, straight from the beast, no dye needed. It was so soft and smooth I couldn't resist. Then I became obsessed with the idea of mixing it with a marled twist of gray, white and black that had stuck in my mind during my first visit to Lambspun. My obsession required a second visit to Lambspun, which is about a 5 hour drive from my home. Good thing K had to go to Ft. Collins for business.

I didn't think I wanted an all-black shawl, practical though it might be. Since I was copying the Terhi-Kay modification of the Feather and Fan Triangle Shawl from Folk Shawls, I used the triple-stranded marl for the border ruffle. I didn't double the stitch count, though. The marl is fluffy enough to provide a bit of expansion without the trouble of extra stitches.

I did increase per pattern to make the tails, up until I started the border. They work just like Terhi's and Kay's do, wrapping around my waist or over my shoulders. Most times, I just let them hang or lie in my lap so I can play with them.

I included every eyelet. The black needed a little bit of patterning. Totally plain garter stitch would have left me numb. As it is, it's rather dull, but perfect for home wear. Just perfect.

To make wearable and practical shawls, I risked dullness, first with the gray Domovoi, then with this black and a little gray. Now I need an antidote. For that, there's nothing like Noro.

I'm very afraid that this one is going the wrong way. I keep knitting in very bright colors then ripping them out. Knitting a Citron is a lot of fun, though, at least until the rows get over 500 stitches on them.
For the history of the Terhi-Kay shawl, see the February and March archives of Mason-Dixon knitting.

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Monday, March 7, 2011

Knitting two and a half shawls

This tale begins with detail

The tail, in fact, of a triangular gray shawl. The pattern, the Domovoi Shawl from Folk Shawls, intended for the shawl to be a rectangle. My yarn shortage limited it to a triangle. A little bit of math helped me morph the shape of the Wool Peddler's Shawl, also from Folk Shawls, with the pattern and edging from Domovoi. The result looks like Domovoi and wears like Wool Peddler.

A few years ago, I had no idea how to wear a triangular shawl. Now I have no idea how to do without one. If there's even just a hint of a chill, I wrap one around my shoulders while I have my morning coffee. In the photo above, I was dressed to go out to lunch on a warmish spring day, anticipating a drafty restaurant. I was well prepared.

Even though it's larger that I need, it's so light that I find it easier to wear than a smaller shawl. I just scrunch it up around my neck if I want it shorter.

This shawl took less than four balls of Rowan Kid Classic yarn, knit on size 10 1/2 needles to open up the garter stitch. I found that my Honey Shawl, another garter stitch shawl I knit, quickly reverted to its original close-lying rows of garter ridges, even though I blocked it to open up the ridges. I hope that the larger needles will mean that these ridges will stay open.

As soon as I finished this one, I cast on for yet another garter stitch triangular shawl. Even though I most often wear these shawls at home, I still want them to coordinate with my attire. I'd like to have at least four "at home" shawls. My next post will be up soon and will cover the other completed shawl and one that's halfway done.

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