Where were we? Oh, right… Knitting

After an unintentional week off, I’m back at the blog. No real reason why there wasn’t a post last week, unless you count a terribly busy week and a half. What have I been up to?

The week after Canadian Thanksgiving saw two days in the office (co-leading education programs both days), one day at a conference, and Friday the 13th co-ordinating a paranormal investigation on site.  The conference was amazing, for so many different reasons. It was a conference for other Museum professionals in Ontario, and conferences are always great for connecting with colleagues and friends you don’t always get to see because of geography. There are always inspiring sessions and workshops, also making conferences fantastic opportunities. Personally, this conference was remarkable because my co-workers nominated me for an award of excellence, which I received that evening. It was amazing, overwhelming, humbling, nerve-wracking, and truly a gratifying experience.  I feel like I have a lot to live up to, but I’m up for the challenge with my career.

The paranormal investigation was a lot of fun as well.  My museum works exclusively with a local group, and I’d considered many of the team members as my friends; really a great group of guys. We sold a small amount of tickets and increased the time allowed in the museum so the guests really could make the most of the experience. There were some strange bangs and knocks heard, but nothing to really change my septic mind. I’m not completely closed minded on the subject, and I know we’d be happy to have these investigators back. Maybe I’ll be convinced next time.

The following day, my best friend and I were on our way to Kingston to see the Barenaked Ladies as part of their Canada One-Five-Oh tour. Oh my goodness. It was a phenomenal show.  We’ve seen BNL so many times through the years (three this year alone), and this ranks up there as one of the best shows we’ve been to.  Small, intimate theatre, phenomenal set list, great music. There’s a reason they are my favourite band. We ended up meeting three of the four band members after the show, who remembered us because we were the girls in the front row dancing to every song. This was just a great girls weekend away.

New Picture

Last week, why I didn’t blog (as if the week before wasn’t busy enough), I worked most weeknights, and Monday evening I went into Toronto to hear Alan Doyle talk about his new book.  My sister and I ended up getting a picture with him as well.

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Whenever I was able, I had yarn in my hands.  I finished the Dodging Rain Drops Cowl I cast on in early October. It’s a paid pattern in Ravelry, and I’d recommend spending the money and supporting the designer of this beautiful cowl.

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I’ve been working on socks which will be a Christmas gift, which I’ve just picked up again after frogging them and putting them into a time out. Turns out my gauge isn’t what it typically is with a lacework sock pattern… we’re on better terms now after I went down a needle size. There were some hard feelings right after the frogging, let me tell you…

And I’ve been very happily working on my Bigger on the Inside shawl, using yarn I dyed myself earlier this summer.  Once I got used to the ‘Time Vortex Lace’ pattern that Kate Atherley designed, it’s easy to memorize and quite fun to knit.

And with this update, I’m back to knitting. The socks are calling my name.

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Judging a Pattern by its Rav Picture

This is totally the knitting equivalent of judging a book by its cover, I realize, but it is a sin I am guilty of.

During my lunch hours, it’s not uncommon to find me at my desk reading, perhaps watching a safe-for-work episode of a TV show, all the while keeping my hands busy by knitting.  I’m also frequently browsing Ravelry’s ‘Hot Right Now’ patterns.  A few days ago, as I was mindlessly clicking through the patterns, I realized how the featured picture of the pattern completely impacts whether I’ll click on the pattern or not. Artistic, engaging image with the lovely yarn shown off in an aesthetic fashion? You bet I’ll click on! Poor quality, dark shades, hard to make out the stitches, and I find myself even questioning how this pattern is currently ‘Hot.’ The same goes for overly artistic photos where you can’t even tell what the project is – if it’s hard to discern the pattern, I have zero interest in the project.

While knitting is very much a tactile art form, the feel of the yarn, the movement of the stitches, it is also extremely visual. Even though you likely shouldn’t judge a pattern by its Ravelry picture, it’s a sin I’ll continue to commit.

Finding the Right Pattern

Sometimes, you just want a big, cozy, wooly sweater.


This Briggs and Little Yarn has been in my stash for well over two years, gifted to me by a friend who knows I’m a knitter. It sat in my stash because even though four skeins is a lot of yardage, it isn’t quite enough to make a sweater. A little over a year later, I bought this yarn from a craft fair, the fleece from a local farm.


The natural brown would compliment the natural grey of the Briggs and Little quite well. But still the yarns sat, unsure of how to take these two yarns and make a sweater. I could have alternated the colours of the sleeves and edging, but I wasn’t so keen on that. However, I had a stroke of inspiration.

If you’re in the ‘knitting world,’ you’ve of course heard all about Andrea Mowry’s Find Your Fade, a beautiful shawl made from five different colours of yarn.  It’s stunning for its size, construction, and originality.   Well, why couldn’t I find my fade with these complimentary yarns?  The basic idea is that you knit continuously with one colour, and when you’re ready to introduce the next, you knit a few rows of stripes, helping the colours ‘fade’ into each other. Find the right sweater pattern and fade the colours into each other.  Simple enough in theory.

Enter Fezziwig: a warm, cozy sweater designed by Melissa Schaschwary.  I have the yarn, I have the pattern, I have the general idea for how I’ll fade the two colours into each other.  And if it doesn’t work, I can always rip back, re-wind and it can keep my other stashed yarn company awaiting new inspiration.


Stay tuned.

The Mixed Wave Cowl, or the ongoing ramblings of how it was made

February 14, 2017

Made my way to LYS and purchased the Yarn Challenge kit. The yarns are lovely: red, taupe and beige. Now comes the hard part, what to make with it.

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February 15, 2017
4:30pm

Awesome! I’m so glad I found the Mixed Wave Cowl pattern on Ravelry. It’s perfect for this yarn, a fantastic way to truly highlight the three yarns of the Yarn Challenge.  I have the yarn, the needles, the pattern; I’m ready to cast on!

4:45pm

Okay, we’re cast on! Let me just read the pattern… oh… huh. Well, this is… huh. Okay, so it’s not written like other patterns. This designer’s put a lot of thought (and math) in this pattern. I’m impressed. Cool. I can do this… I think…

4:55pm

Gah, so that didn’t go as planned. Here’s a tip, Lisa. Read the whole pattern. Like, all details.  Let the frogging commence.

5:12pm

Frogging complete. Cast on complete. First row knit. Now onto short rows… wait… huh… I still can’t visualize what to do here. I get the general idea – you’re using short rows and alternate colours to create this really interesting and unique striped pattern. That I get. These instructions, though… Maybe it’s just because I’m not comfortable with the wrap and turn method. Yeah that’s it.

5:14pm

I still don’t get it. There are over 100 people who have this in their Ravelry projects. What do their notes say…

5:18pm

So many of these project notes say “Just do it.” “Trust the designer.” “It all makes sense once you get going.” Yeah, I’m not buying it… Maybe this will be clearer after dinner… mmm… food…

6:03pm

Just do it, huh… okay, here goes… Wrap and turn abandoned, going with German Short Row method instead, a tried, tested and understood method. Maybe that will help…

7:54pm

Well whaddya know? Those Ravelers and the designer were right… just do it. I’m doing it, and a few repeats in and it looks like it’s supposed to look! Maybe all that math the designer did actually makes sense… almost foiled by math once again, but not this time!

February 17, 2017

A day off work and four hour car ride = lots of knitting time. Mixed Wave Cowl, let’s do this. I’m actually feeling so confident with this pattern, a pattern that only a few short days ago I had no faith in, that I’m now able to work it without referring to the written directions. Lesson learned: read all instructions. Trust the designer. Trust other Ravelers.

February 20, 2017

Mixed Wave Cowl grows, both in length and in my overall love for it.

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March 6, 2017

And grows…

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March 7, 2017

4:40pm

Couch, knitting, Law and Order. I see you, Mixed Wave Cowl.

6:35pm

Break out the measuring tape. 55cm! I’m at the right place in my pattern to justify casting off. It is 5cm shorter than the recommended length but it’ll stretch.

6:42pm

Stupid provisional cast on. Grumble grumble.

7:55pm

So this happened:

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Why yes, that is the cowl, grafted, ends woven, and blocking!

I’m sorry I ever doubted you, designer. The initial frustrations I felt three weeks ago was worth pushing through to get this as the final result.

March 8, 2017

4:34pm

Just trying it on for good measure. Yup, still in love with the final result. So much cowl love.

Garterlac Baby Blanket

I love entrelac.  One of my first posts on this humble little blog was all about my love for this technique. It may SEEM daunting, challenging even, but oh, it’s not. The small squares knit up fairly quickly making it a very satisfying technique because you feel like you’re making quick progress. Long story short, entrelac is fun. Give it a try.

A number of months ago, I was lurking on the Ravelry forums, and I added my two cents* regarding making a ‘garterlac’ baby blanket.  I put my needles to work with making such a blanket in early 2015. I didn’t really re-invent any wheels when I improvised this project, but someone encouraged me to write the pattern out, so here is my pattern.  Please note, it has NOT been test knit or edited or anything else fancy. These are my ramblings of a pattern I ad-libbed two years ago.

Credit must be passed along to Criminy Jickets as I followed his basic garterlac construction from his Garterlac Dishcloth, a wonderful intro to the Entrelac technique, and one can never have too many dishcloths. When I’ve used the wording from the Garterlac Dishcloth, it is denoted with the text in italics.

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Materials
Bernat Baby Blanket, 10 skeins (or 800m of super bulky yarn)
Size 9mm needles (US 13) – I used a circular needle of 80cm because the blanket gets BIG

Finished measurements
(approx): 4’ x 3’

Construction
The construction of this blanket consists of:

(1) Bottom row of triangles (blue yarn)
(2) Row of two side triangles and nine middle squares (white yarn)
(3) Row of 10 squares (blue yarn)
(4) Top row of triangles (blue yarn)

And in between (1) and (4) is a varying number of (2) and (3) repeated, ending with a (2)

 

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On my example, photo above, I repeated row (2) SEVEN times, and I repeated row (3) SIX times.

My example resulted in the cast on and cast off edges being the sides. Once you understand the basic construction of entrelac, you can adjust this structure for your purposes (i.e., if you cast on a smaller amount of stitches, you could work more rows (2) and (3) and essentially get a blanket with the same dimensions).

Each square is made with 8 stitches being worked.

Directions:
Cast on 80 stitches

Row (1)

Bottom Triangle:
K 1, turn, K 1, turn.
K 2, turn, K 2, turn.
K 3, turn, K 3, turn.
K 4, turn, K 4, turn.
K 5, turn, K 5, turn.
K 6, turn, K 6, turn.
K 7, turn, K 7, turn.
K 8, do not turn

Repeat the steps for ‘Bottom Triangle’ 9 more times (10 triangles created total). Turn.

Row (2)

Increasing Side Triangle:
K 1, turn, K-FB, turn.
K 1, SKP, turn, K-FB, K 1, turn.
K 2, SKP, turn, K 1, K-FB, K 1, turn.
K 3, SKP, turn, K 2, K-FB, K 1, turn.
K 4, SKP, turn, K 3, K-FB, K 1, turn.
K 5, SKP, turn, K 4, K-FB, K 1, turn.
K 6, SKP, turn, K 5, K-FB, K 1, turn.
K 7, SKP, do not turn.

You will now knit 9 squares

Square directions:
Pick up 8 stitches along the side of the previous row, turn. 
* K 8, turn, K 7, SKP, turn. *
Repeat between the *s another seven times, but do not turn at the end of the eighth repeat.

Decreasing Side Triangle:
Pick up 8 stitches along the side of the previous row, turn, K 8, turn.
K 6, K2tog, turn, K 7, turn.
K 5, K2tog, turn, K 6, turn.
K 4, K2tog, turn, K 5, turn.
K 3, K2tog, turn, K 4, turn.
K 2, K2tog, turn, K 3, turn.
K 1, K2tog, turn, K 2, turn.
K2tog, turn.

You are left with one stitch on the left hand needle.

Row (3)

Transfer the one stitch to the right-hand needle. Pick up a further 7 stitches down the side of the previous row so you have 8 stitches in total, turn, and continue with the directions for Square.  Make 10 squares.

Repeat Row (2) SEVEN times and Row (3) SIX times, or until you’ve reached your desired width, ending with a Row (2)

Row (4)

Top Triangle:
Pick up 7 stitches along the side of the previous row, turn.
K 6, K2tog, turn, K 6, SKP, turn.
K 5, K2tog, turn, K 5, SKP, turn.
K 4, K2tog, turn, K 4, SKP, turn.
K 3, K2tog, turn, K 3, SKP, turn.
K 2, K2tog, turn, K 2, SKP, turn.
K 1, K2tog, turn, K 1, SKP, turn.
K2tog, turn, SKP. K 1 and pass the second stitch on the right-hand needle over the first

Repeat the directions for Top Triangle 9 more times, until all stitches have been bound off.

Weave in ends.

Block if appropriate for the yarn.


*hmmm… we no longer have pennies in Canada that I could have contributed…. I added my five cent piece, then?

On How I Grew to Love Charts

A number of years back, I was very intimidated by knitting charts. My first introduction to charts was when I downloaded the afghan pattern for my travel afghan.  It was a pattern provided by Rowan yarns, and there are eight different squares which comprise the completed blanket. Half the patterns were available as written and charts, and half were charts only.  At the time, I saved only the written patterns when they were given and begrudgingly saved the charts when there was no alternative provided. This afghan is a project I pick up every so often, and now that time has passed and I’ve learned how easy it is to follow a chart, I’ve gone back and added the charts to the patterns where they are missing.

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The trick with charts is learning how to read them.  When you’re first shown a chart with lots of little symbols and repeats, it can admittedly be intimidating.  There is no need to be scared of charts! Your fear and hesitation is something all knitters go through, before they learn how to read them.

Let’s break charts down.

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The above is a charted lace pattern that I have improvised.

Each square on the chart represents a stitch on your needle, and there is usually a key which explains what each symbol means.  Many of these symbols are universal.

When reading a chart, it’s opposite to how we would read a page of written words.  Charts are designed to be read from the bottom up, and you read them from right to left for the right side and left to right for the wrong side.

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Charts make the most intricate lace pattern simpler, can add ease to a pattern with lots of cables, and for the visual person that I am, they are much simpler for working a row of any pattern because you can see what the stitches are going to be, rather than reading through them.  A tip that I’ll pass along from the Yarn Harlot: Have sticky notes as a staple in your knitter’s bag. Having a sticky note marking your progress through a chart is a lifesaver for me.

These tips may be well known to seasoned knitters, but hopefully they will come in handy if you’re faced with your first charted pattern.

Happy knitting!

Like learning to knit, all over again

Best friend sent me a message last week, asking if I could knit something for her daughter. The project request:

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Azul Pullover – photo © Heidi May

If you’ve spent any time on Ravelry recently, I’m sure the Azel Pullover by Velvet Acorn Designs is familiar as it spends a lot of time high up on the Hot Right Now pages.  Of course I would make this stylish sweater for one of my favourite mini-humans!

Demonstrating the popularity of this pattern, when I stopped in at one of my favourite LYSs, the owner said she couldn’t keep the recommended yarn on the shelves long enough!  I bought six lovely squishy balls of Bernat Softee Chunky, and knowing that I already had the required 9mm needle, I happily headed home to start this new project.

I cast on the required stitches and started with the pattern, and right away, it became painfully evident that I’m out of practice knitting with super bulky yarn! I was unsure of how I was holding the needles, the yarn feeling foreign wrapped around my index finger for tension.  Recently, the heaviest yarn I’m using is the worsted weight Cascade 220, and my usual travel projects are two pairs of socks.  Going from 2.5mm to 9mm, it’s no wonder why everything was feeling so unfamiliar!

One thing I will say about this project is that it is a very fast knit!  After a few dedicated evenings, my pullover is taking great shape:

The quarter gives you an idea of how big these stitches are! I’ll be sure to share pictures of this lovely pullover once it’s finished, and if I keep at the rate I’ve been going, it’ll be finished in less than a week’s time.