Thursday, January 31, 2008

Tofutsies Tried

Here is my D.B., sporting socks finished in mid-August, 2007. I used Tofutsies by Southwest Trading Company and #1 needles, using a pattern I designed for her very own legs and feet! And, she loved the cheerful colorway.

I wish the socks looked as good now. In just four months of wearing they've become rather drab. Luckily my D.B. still likes how they feel and doesn't seem perturbed by the change. I did not enjoy knitting with this yarn at all. Not only did it smell of shrimp peels during the humid summer when I was knitting with it, but it split more than any yarn I've ever used. I grew to loathe it. Unfortunately, I have two more skeins.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Present For My Sister

Materials: Ritratto by Filatura Di Crossa, color red #44 dye lot 2091. 3 balls, each 198 yds/1.75 oz.; fiber content: 28% mohair; 53% viscose (rayon); 10% polyamide and 9% p0lyester. I'm not certain which of these fibers adds the subtle metallic glittery element. Knit on #2 needles (wooden), 70 sts in k1p1 rib to give it structure. It's about 60" long and about 10" wide.

Above you can see my sister A. , sitting in the architecturally exciting lobby of the building in which she works. There is so much light and space, both luxuries in the middle of Manhattan Island. I love the way she looks in the scarf and was so pleased that she likes it.

I worked with a number of sizes of needles before deciding that the rich yarn needed the simple structure of k1p1 to show off the beauty of this yarn. It took a long time, actually, to knit it, and confess that I almost kept it for myself.

A few years ago I'd knit a scarf for my aunt, using the now discontinued and impossible to find -- and perfectly lovely -- lavender shade of Ritratto. However, because it was knit in stockingette with only a few stitches on either side on garter, it did curl. Even though I'm an experienced knitter, I failed to avoid the dreaded stockingette curled-up scarf.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Neck Hugger

Last year my sister Angela gave me a very generous gift certificate to String, my favorite yarn store -- at least before it moved. (Now it's up a flight of brownstone steps which are very hard for me to manouevre on all but my best days. ) Anyway, I treated myself to some qiviuk yarn. Lydia, the brilliant knitter at String, had created a wonderful pattern for a neck hugger I fell in love with. Rather than experimenting with the expensive qiviuk, I made a trial version with some KPPPM Koigu I had in my copious stash. [Color 435 dye lot 34; 100% merino wool, 50 g/ 175 yds.] KPPPM is a tightly plied 2ply and can make a stiff fabric.

This is double knitting at its best and I was eager to try Lydia's beautiful pattern. Because I believe this might be a proprietary pattern, despite it's not having any copyright on it, I will only tell you about the changes I made.

With the recommended #3 needles I used a provisional cast-on to start which made a very clean tubular beginning. The pattern promised a dimension of 5.5" x 27" but no gauge was mentioned. The dimensions after washing, which relaxed the yarn, are 4.75" x 29". This is better for me. Instead of 11 ridges noted in the pattern, to achieve almost the desired width I had to make 14 ridges. I decided not to use Lydia's cast off of * ssk, pass 1st st over* . I painstakingly divided the two sides of the tubular knitting onto two #1 needles and kitchener-stitched the entire 118 sts on each side -- yes a vast total of 236. I wanted to match the tubular cast-on edge. It worked out beautifully, actually. For the side borders, I picked up what worked, not the recommended 42 sts.

To finish I stitched the two layered button hole together.

Because I really like both sides and can't really decide which is the right and which is the wrong side, I decided to make it reversible and bought special buttons for each side. My favorite is the darker silver rounded one which reminds me of the buttons on loden felted coats, jackets and capes I'd had as a child.

The side border is thick so I made certain to buy buttons with posts and sewed them on firmly with a little extra height, wrapping the thread around the extra height. The button is probably supposed to be at the edge of the opposite side border but I didn't quite understand the directions. It works quite nicely with the button in the middle.

So, now I'm ready for the qiviuk.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Afghan for Jeanne: A Work In Progress

The 8 colors in the afghan

The very first square, about 16" x 16". You can see the vestige of the original log cabin plan, although to be consistent, the lavender and olive green would be switched.

The current and 2nd sqare, a variation on the first. Thus far I really like this one as the greens really complement the lavender. But, you never know how the whole will look until it's all put together.

Jeanne knows only too well that I don' t happily take to process, preferring definite decisions or, ideally, solutions. This afghan will be an opportunity to engage in process as I make this afghan for my dear friend. Jeanne is always so supportive of my knitting and most appreciative of anything I make.

Again, I'm being inspired by the techniques in Mason Dixon Knitting (see earlier blog entries for further details). First I began to make a classic log cabin, with the large lavender center as the center of the entire afghan. I chose the llog cabin design as a metaphor for Jeanne's newly-built house in the wild, wild West (brave soul that she is!). That's why the center much bigger than the usual center of a log cabin block. I now think of the llarge centers as evoking the wide open space and large sky of her new home. And, her large heart.

As I knit the first block, I had three thoughts about my original plan. Cotton yarn is quite heavy, doesn't hold its shape well and would benefit greatly from the structure provided by smaller blocks. Secondly, the variation in the size and color of strips around the center of each block would add great visual interest. And, finally, the large centers could be a unifying element depending on how I arrange them.

Planned: 16 blocks. The center four will be blocks with purple and lavender centers. Because Jeanne's feng shui calls for purples and greens, these colors will predominate. I'll see what happens and if I have enough to make four each of the dark purple and lavender center blocks. I have a lot of this yarn and part of the challenge (and fun) is working within the constraints of what there is in the stash.

Next installment: Yarn brand and colors, needle size and progress.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

One More Afghan by the Stettenheim Stitchers

The Stettenheim Stitchers finished their third afghan since 2005 for the Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services' Sanctuary Stitchers Project. This worthy organization gives these blankets to children entering the foster care system. At the moment, a fourth afghan is being put together and we have enough completed blocks for one more. I've ordered 15 skeins from Yarn Forward, in Canada, which offers a wide variety of Paton's Canadiana acrylic yarn. On January 16 the JBFCS will hold its blanket ceremony where I work so we'll be able to attend.

From left to right in the photo above: L.S., D.M., and W.H.; D.M. and W.H., along with H, who is D.M.'s sister and W.H.'s aunt, made many of the blocks that make up this afghan. Look for their interesting stitch and color patterns. H.L. is our designer who decides how the blocks will be assembled into an afghan. She also does a a big share of the knitting. R.L. cheerfully and efficiently crochets the blocks into strips and then joins the strips to create a whole new afghan, as though by magic. To finish off the project, L.S. sews in the yarn ends and crochets the border. See previous posts for H.L.'s andR.L.'s photos and that of J.R., who'd made a few blocks when she had time in the past. Photo credit: R.W., another Stettenheim Volunteer!

Favorite Washcloth Pattern

Eeek!!! I can't remember which knitting book this came from but I do have several photocopies I made. If anyone recognizes the pattern, please let me know so I can ascribe it properly. My notes say it came from a sock pattern book but the fabric doesn't seem right for socks.

After trying lacy and loose washcloths, I finally realized that because cotton stretches out when its wet, a firm fabric that has texture and is fairly thick makes the best washcloths.

Pattern name: III.10 -- a slipped stitch pattern.
Special stitches: C4 (Cross 4) plus slipped stitches.
Pattern is knitted in multiples of 7 plus one.
Better not to have a garter border for this pattern.
Materials: various but at least one with an old skein that's been in the stash for at least 20 years. Bernat "Gloucester Sport", 100% cotton, 1.75 oz / 50 yards; #4 needles. This was finished in June, 2007. I've made several others, including one from a white mystery yarn -- probably acrylic or worse. The D.B. is happy to use it as a dishcloth.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Felted Flower Pin

A couple of years ago I bought two of these kits, one in pinks & purples and this one in earthier tones. Made by KnitWhits, the kit includes directions, about 1 oz total of 4 colors of alpaca / angora yarn and a flimsy pin back. I knit it with #7 needles and felted it by hand, using a glass washboard. To sew it together I tacked down all the loose bits so gravity wouldn't make the petals and leaves flop down. After felting the dimensions are c. 6" wide by 5.25" high. ( 'spose I could have felted it even more but the alpaca/angora blend was a little fragile.

The colors are perfect for M., my friend, mentor and yes, boss. I admire her sense of style and was so pleased she put it right on her coat! I made it to thank her for asking my D.B. and me to a special birthday celebratory lunch -- twol months ago, I'm afraid.