Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Patriotic Mark

The camera and computer do not give these two bookmarks the justice they deserve. Each was done in exactly the same red, white and blue. The beetle centers vary but that's it. The red on the blue border one appears orange on my computer screen but imagine American Flag red. I wasn't sure I liked the one with the red border much so I tried it with the blue border. They are both OK but I am not in love with them. It may be that I really don't care for these two primary colors.

Using white in taquete is problematic. You can't see it from the photo but the white portion has a pink cast on the blue border bookmark. The white part on the red border bookmark has a slight blue tinge. You might expect the opposite; thinking that the border color will bleed into the white.

The actual result has to do with the order in which I weave the colors. The order impacts which color stacks on top of each other. I am weaving four colors each pass and then packing them in with the beater. Each color finds its natural place based on the order it is woven. I could have achieved either result depending upon the order I wove the thread colors. If the beetle outline color [let's say it's red] follows the white - - it will stacked right under the white. The red then permeates the white to give it a cast of red - hence showing up a slight pink. The blue went first so it's at the bottom and has no impact visually on the white section.

This is why one always must test the colors in taquete since what you think will come out usually doesn't. Something to remember when selecting colors for taquete particularly when using light or translucent colors.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Knitting in Public

Yesterday was the first day I knitted in public. I was attending a tax seminar all day and brought my knitting along. I kept the ball of yarn in my pocket and knitted in my lap. A few people watched...I mean really - which is more interesting - a power point presentation on taxation for 501(c)3 organizations or me knitting. I have no poker each time my yarn slipped or I counted wrong my face said it all.

For my next knitting project, I decided to work on something small and repetitive. The next item in The Sweater Workshop book was a sweater. That was way too much for me. I turned to the very last item in the book - a beaded rib scarf as my choice. The book helpfully points out ways to have good corners and no flare outs at the scarf ends. Once up and running there are only two patterns to memorize.

Slip 1, k2, *k2,p3*
Slip 1, k2, *p2,k1,p1,k1*,p2,k3

I can't say how many times I got all messed up with this seemingly simple pattern. Finally put three markers in so I would know quickly whether I had made an error or not. I have yet to master the undoing of stitches. It usually looks worse after I un-do and re-do than if I had not re-done at all. Hence, I need to catch any mistake as soon as possible.

I also got to try out those cool interchangeable knitting needles. I sampled 5-8 and decided I liked the 6 the best; although many seemed pretty similar. I am using a Cascade yarn called Pima Tencel in a lovely green. It is quite nice to feel; soft and smooth.

Am I still weaving?

Yes, I started up again yesterday. I finished the red, white and blue bookmark with some metallic thread as embellishment. Now I am working on a blue, white and red one with sliver metallic thread. I am interested in seeing how switching the colors alters the mood of the piece. In addition, I want to see how much longer the bookmark will be using sliver metallic vs. regular metallic thread. The sliver is more like a thin ribbon while the regular metallic seems thinner than rayon embroidery thread. I had a tough time weaving with the metallic thread since it kept unspooling. The sliver is heavier and it doesn't slip as much. I'll show a picture next time so everyone can come and contrast the two color permutations.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

My Gold Medal Olympic Memory

3d 23h to go

Hard to believe I started out at the Opening Ceremonies barely able to hold my knitting needles but with the help of this book I am now able to do a reasonable knit and purl as well as a multitude of other knitting techniques that many knitters have never tried. I would encourage any beginning knitter to work through the sampler in The Sweater Workshop to gain some worthwhile insights on the ins and outs of knitting construction.

A quick review of the various 'events' in my Knitting Olympics included:

Garter & stockinette Stiches
Changing yarn of the same or different color
Three types of ribbings
Making stripes
Short rows
Chain selvedges & cardigan borders
Buttonholes [intentional ones!]
Sweatshirt pocket
Bar increases
Three types of stripes
Six types of raglan seamline decreases
Two color knitting & weaving & Swiss darning
Knitted cords as well as knitted belts
Lots of ways to end; using a knitted cord, lacing and ribbing plus a hem with initials
Let's not forget the afterthought pocket with grafting
And finally what to do with all those ends.

My special thanks to two people - -

1. My friend Merna who taught me how to hold my knitting needles and lent me the book The Sweater Workshop by Jacqueline Fee,


2. the Yarnharlot who created the concept of the Knitting Olympics. Without the tight timeframe and pressure of documenting progress in a public way, I doubt I would have ever finished this piece.

I'm done with three days and 23 hours left in the Olympics. Time to turn the TV on and catch some of the remaining events...or I could knit...

The Last Events

Whew! The last three events were tough! Yesterday, I thought there were only two events and they would be quick. The idea of adding a pocket seemed like a simple thing. Well, not exactly. First there was the trepidation I felt when I had to actually cut the yarn; particularly since I was adding the pocket in a lovely section where I had got the purling, knitting and tension just right. Then as I pulled out the yarn on each side of the cut there was that large gaping intentional one...but large.

Then there was the entirely new event of knitting with three double pointed needles. They were metal which was fortunate - - when the stitches were real tight they slid easily from one side to the other. It was not so fortunate when my stitches became looser - - the needles would simply slide out of the stitches onto the floor. Obviously there is a method to using these needles...unfortunately it was not described in the book. At one point, I was ready to simply quit but then realized I would have a huge gaping hole so I preservered.

The next event turned out to be something called Grafting. It is some sort of sewing which is supposed to look like knitting and used to close the bottom of the pocket. I'm not sure I ever got the hang of that but my pocket is now closed at the bottom so actual items can be stored there. Why I would store anything in a sampler is beyond me!

The last event and one that seemed to last forever was to hide all the ends....boy were there a lot of them. I also used my new darning skills to fill a couple of those unintentional holes. I left a few for the memories!

Now all I have to do is to figure out how to memorialize my Olympic accomplishments. How should I photo a 'learn to knit' sampler which increases and decreases and has all sorts of different techniques through out. It needs to make me smile when I think back at the the trials, tribulations and 'ah hah' moments as I worked through the many events. It definately needs to be memorable.


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Knitting Olympics - the end is in sight!

Here is Bunkie modeling the cute belt I just finished as part of my 'learn to knit sampler'. It is supposed to go through the sweatshirt pocket and go around the piece. I made it with a slightly heavier yarn than the rest of the sampler since it looked too messy in the original yarn. Note the from a previous workshop . I think it is just perfect for a chihuahua collar.

I have made great progress since I blogged last on my Sampler for the Knitting Olympics. I have learned to knit with two colors which was quite a feat. It seems similar to playing the piano where each hand has to do different things or rubbing your head and your stomach in different directions. It takes lots of patience and practice.

I also learned to darn and added a touch of green in the blue and white Scandinavian pattern. The most fun was near the top where I learned how to made intentional holes in the piece. Nothing better to plan to make a hole and have a hole appear where you want it. What have I experienced over the past week? I'd have a plan with no hole yet a hole would appear - the unintended hole. Here the plan was to have holes uniformly spaced around the piece so a knitted cord could go through. It worked! You can see the knitted white cord tied in a bow in the picture below.

The sampler has four different types of cast offs on the last round. I learned how to do a knitted cord cast off along with a loop that you can see attached to the door knob. The loop is a good idea to remember for future pieces...then there is a greater chance the piece will be hung up vs. end up laying on the floor somewhere.

The lace cast off is on the right at the top. I can imagine this as a little collar on a chihuahua coat. Please imagine that hole [I am sure you see it!] a bit seems I lost a purl along the way and the hole turned out larger than it should have. There is also a section of cable cast off plus a hem with the initial 'B' knitted in. They don't show up will need to trust me that they are there.

Only two more Olympic events to go...1. adding a pocket after the knitting is off the needles and 2. finishing up all those ends that are inside. I hope to finish tomorrow.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Results of Boxing

These are are the two boxes I made yesterday in a workshop given by Betz Salmont. It was quite an enjoyable day with a bunch of enjoyable people. I found it interesting how scoring would make the matt paper fold into shapes I thought I could not build myself and how the Japanese paper was so forgiving to cover mishaps along the way. I am pleased with the results and will be using one for an upcoming birthday party.

Friday, February 17, 2006

To Knit or To Box

Big mistake! Do not try to have a dog model a knitting sampler without securing the ends of the circular needles. I was looking for an interesting way to display my progress on my 'learn to knit' sampler. It is shaped like a cyclinder and look way bigger than my dog. So I figured 'why not?' I put it on him...remember I only put in one placket so there was only one hole for a dog's foot...bad idea...long nails...squirmy dog...lots of loops came off the needles...ah and learn. I looked around for a more cooperative model and found my wooden Australian platypus ....not exactly the same shape but it does provide a good view of my progress.

So let's see...since starting the sampler I straightened out my knitting and purling; hopefully making the correct way a habit. I have learned the cable cast on, a garter stitch and the stockinette stitch. I have learned to fix a broken piece of yarn and change the color of yarns. I can knit three different types of ribbing and add a stripe. I can do a short row, a cardigan border on a mini placket with a button hole and a very cute sweatshirt pocket. The pocket shows well in white on blue in the photo. In the last couple of days I also learned to increase and four or more ways to decrease plus make three types of stripes; a knit stripe, a purl stripe and a raised stripe.

Phew! That's a lot to learn for a new knitter; particular since the start of the Olympics!

Coming up next -
Two color knitting which looks like fun.
Weaving & darning
Knitted cords, belts, loops and lace
Lots of ways to cast off
An afterthought pocket
Grafting, lacing, hemming and what to do about all those ends.

Although two color knitting looks like fun I could use a break. Fortunately I've got a workshop planned on making boxes. So I am off to box.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Weaving During the Olympics

Can you weave during the Knitting Olympics?

My answer is yes! I made some progress this afternoon on my beetles. I was going for an Indian mudtone look. The photo makes it look a bit more orange than it really is. I am thinking of doing one in red-white & blue colors to celebrate the USA in the Olympics.

Does anyone have any suggestions for future beetle colors? I should have enough warp to do at least a dozen more beetle color permutations. There should be four colors - one for the frame, one for the background, one to outline the beetle and one for the inside of the beetle. Just let me know in the comment section. If I have the colors in my thread collection and my experience says the colors may work well in taquete - then I'll try it out!

All this weaving talk - does this mean I have been ignoring my Knitting? Of course not - two more Events finished [but clearly not mastered] this morning.

Quite a difficult task this Cardigan Border on a mini placket with a button hole, slips, cast offs and more. It took me awhile to figure out what and where the border was since I seemed to be knitting a cylinder. Actually there were two borders - hence many of my early errors. I had never heard the term placket so to knit one was quite a challenge. My first button hole was on the wrong border ...but then that button hole disappeared somehow...the second one was somewhat in the right area and I made sure it did not disappear. Then there was the 'knit flat' vs.' in the round' issue...since I have only knitted in the round on circular needles this added some more difficulties with when to knit or purl and whether to do it from the front or from the back. I would say, the stockinette section just competed has a great deal of 'visual interest', uniqueness ,texture and negative spaces...few would recognize it as stockinette!

I also discovered it is better for me to leave a mistake in than try to take it out and knit it again...I have not had the lesson on how to rip knitting out...although I must admit I am getting better at it. I must continue to mumble my mantra...this is a sampler...this is a sampler...this is a sampler...this is a sampler and I am not in OZ where everything must be perfect. [I know...I'll sew on a really cool button...then everyone will notice the button and not the knitting! My older sister always says that if you want someone not to notice something give them something else to notice. And I did make all those buttons in that workshop last week...]

I just found out I was accepted into the Purling Puppies WebRing. How could I not join...I just love purling and I love puppies! And they have such a cute button!

Good grief!!! Have you seen the clock on YarnHarlot's blog? There is a countdown to the end of the Olympics! Only 10 days and around 20 hours to go...and I have 16 Events to go!

Gotta go knit!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

It Looks Like Knitting!

It certainly grew since the last picture from the end of Day Three ! This sampler in the round is now too big for my chihuahuas to model. I added some K1 P1 ribbing, followed by some twisted ribbing and then some K2 P2 ribbing. And finally, I learned how to change the color! Thank goodness, that green was getting quite boring. It's quite looks like knitting.

I must say, this is quite a learning experience, stitches kept mysteriously appearing and disappearing so I had to add some markers every 20 so I could more easily figure out if I had lost or adopted a stitch by mistake. I had several 'ahh' moments - one was when I read the instructions for the twisted ribbing and discovered I had been doing the knit stitch from the back the entire time.

I do like Sweater Workshop book quite a bit so I ordered one for myself. Yes, Merna you will get your book back soon! It has lots of helpful hints on how to make something without a pattern but without winging it. I already have lots of ideas for the chihuahua sweaters. They should look quite brillant.

The next few Events are quite technical. I read about Chain Selvedges and Cardigan Borders... will need to read them several more times before I move forward. After that there is the ever popular Button Hole and Sweatshirt Pocket Events.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Day 3

Here is where my Knitting Sampler stands at the end of Day 3. As you can see it has gained a couple of inches with the completion of the Stockinette and Making Connections Events. I now move into the Three Ribbings; K1P1, twisted rib and K2P2. This looks to be a long event. Time will tell. As I look back, I see I could have done a better job on the Garter Stitch Event...but that is history and I have another twenty two events to go.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Everyone's Journey is Different

A Day One Perspective on the Knitting Olympics: I was checking out my favorite blogs yesterday and was somewhat floored by Almost Felted. While I had successfully Cast-On my 80 stitches and gone once around my circular needles, she had completed two hats in the Knitting Olympics on Day One and had expectations for more. We are clearly on different roads to a gold medal.

I did make more progress yesterday getting through the Garter Stitch Event and moving on to Stockinette. I was reassured when a fellow knitter told me I was doing my purl correctly. I think I can now get rid of that nagging feeling that my purl is somewhat backwards. No picture update...just look at the previous one [Day One] ...not much different than its current state after Day Two...just a bit more green showing. Once it gets that 'knitting' look, I will show a progress photo.

I have also discovered I really must concentrate when knitting. No distractions. No TV. So this will be the knitting Olympics without actually watching the Olympics. Yesterday at our Guild meeting, I was knitting through a slide presentation and suddenly realized I had heard nothing the speaker had said! I put away the needles and watched the slides.

Here is what I did at an afternoon workshop on Polymer Accessories for your Handwoven Garments taught by Norma Pavely and Laurie Shaffer...I'm not much of bead or jewelry person but it was a fun class and will be useful when I need that special button for something I have woven or knitted. It was fascinating to see how one can mix, roll, cut and shape clays to make different designs.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

It's a 5k

Ever wonder what over three miles of warp look like? Well, here it is. I just finished measuring off the warp for my next weaving; another try at some beetle yardage.

I did the calculation and there is enough sewing thread on that warping board to cover a 5k running course. I used to run 5 and 10k's...this is really hard for me to believe!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Ready Sett Go!

Well the Olympics started today and so I started on my knitting sampler. I had a number of false starts but finally with a change in yarn color I completed my Cable Cast On and the First Round. The cast on stitches were a bit tight but the first round was much looser. The two didn't connect real well but I guess future rounds will make it come together. After I did it over two or three times each time re-reading the directions and it came out looking the same...I figured well, that's the way it's gonna be!

Take a look...not much to look at yet...but a sampler is a sampler and it must start somewhere. The picture of the sampler in the manual is pretty funky looking! Looks a bit like a good sweater for a very lumpy dachshund.

I must admit this is going to be much harder than I envisioned. But it is only the first day and only the first two 'events'.

Future events include the following:

Garter Stitch
Stockinette Stich
Making connections
Three Ribbings
Short Rows
Chain Selvedge
Cardigan Borders
Sweatshirt Pocket
Bar increase
Three Types of Stripes
Raglan Seamline Decreases - 6 ways
Two Color Knitting
Weaving - I should be good at this!
Swiss Darning
Knitted Cord
Lacing Round or Row
Knitted Belt
Knitted Cord Cast Off
Casting Off in Ribbing
The Initiated Hem
An Afterthought Pocket
The Ends

Once I complete this whole list of knitting techniques I should be able to knit anything! Pretty good for a non-knitter!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Night Before

The equipment has been assembled, checked and re-checked for the Knitting Olympics. There is the normal pre-competition jitters. My four coaches have provided their bits of advice. It may be tough to get a good night sleep.

It's almost time - ready, sett...

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

It's Good to be Back

Ah, it is good to be back. Nothing as comforting as all your looms within reach and a working DSL line. Now, just because I was away does not mean I did not accomplish anything.

I spent several days in training for the Knitting Olympics. Hard to believe over 3000 knitters from around the world are participating! My training included learning the Cable Cast On, practicing knitting in a circle and discovering my purl was being knitted consistently backwards. So, I am now ready for the opening ceremonies.

On the weaving front Mr. Clean #2 is complete and ready for GRAND IDEAS in Grand Rapids...well...except for the required labeling and the addition of a hanging strip. The concept of the Vintage Cabinet TV set came out quite nicely. The chenille makes a nice wood and the diamonds reminded my sister of an old TV set we had. I included two small tassels on the weaving in case viewers wish to ignore the admonishment 'do not touch' and open the TV cabinet a bit more for a better view of the TV screen. You can see that Mr. Clean #2 seems a happier fellow with a much whiter shirt than the previous Mr. Clean - clearly a better advertisement for the product!

The dyed warp was twined and braided to form a 'wooden' decorative border on the TV cabinet. The dyed warp also created a bit of an issue since it started breaking around the last couple of inches of weaving. That's what I should expect after dyeing the warp three times!

Hmmm...I feel in the mood for a bookmark...