Let the past sleep, but let it sleep in the sweet embrace of Christ, and let us go on into the invincible future with Him. (Oswalt Chambers)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I'd Rather Be Knitting

What's even less fun than mattress stitch?

Mattress stitch where rows meet stitches!

When I picked it up to sew the saddles onto the front and back, I was temporarily mystified to realize I had live stitches on the front and back. This problem was solved by picking up stitches along the edge of the saddles, 3 stitches to every 4 rows, and doing a three needle bind-off. I was happily surprised to get good results with that technique and am pleased to have a strong seam there that won't be stretching out when I wear the sweater.

The sleeves are sewn to the front and back sides with mattress stitch, 4 front/back rows to every sleeve stitch.

The list of things needed to do to finish Autumn Song is getting shorter:
  • Under side of sleeve seams - row to row mattress stitch.
  • Side seams - row to row mattress stitch.
  • Neck. I expect this to take two tries. I'll knit it according to the chart, frog it, and then knit it a second time so it fits and doesn't come up too high on me.
  • Knit sleeve cuffs in the round.
  • Weave in ends.
  • Block.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

What's Next?

There was a Knitpicks box in the mail today. It contained a good supply of Options metal sock circulars. I'm hooked on that nice sharp point. Now that I've learned not to prick my finger bloody, I want to use them all the time.

Also in the box, an interesting supply of swatching yarn. There are three pattern candidates for my next sweater. I'm going to swatch and decide which pattern to knit next - but no swatching allowed until Autumn Song is done. (I'm sewing. It's going painfully slow because I'm painfully slow at sewing. Sigh.)

Potential Project 1 - Set-in Sleeve Aran in Janet's Szabo's book Aran Sweater Design.

Swatching Yarns for Set-in Sleeve Aran

Left - Merino Style (100% Merino Wool, DK wieght) in Fog. A few years ago I ordered a swatching ball of red Merino Style and didn't like the scratchy feel of it. This skein is entirely different, very soft and nice. The color is a bit uninspiring, but may look better when it's knit up.

Center - Wool of the Andes (100% Peruvian Highland Wool, worsted weight) in Lake Ice Heather. I love this heathery light blue. Wish the Merino Style came in this color.

Right - Wool of the Andes (100% Peruvian Highland Wool, worsted weight) in Dove Heather. An unlikely choice now that I've seen it. I'll probably strand it with some leftover sock yarn for color and knit a pair of toddler CIC socks.

Potential Project 2 - Hourglass Cables designed by Charlotte Morris. From Knitter's Magazine Fall 2001, #64.

Swatching Yarn for Hour Glass Cables

Cadena (70% wool, 30% superfine alpaca) in Neptune. This is a super soft heavy yarn. I love the feel of it and only wish it came in more interesting colors.

Neptune was the only Cadena color in stock I'd consider for this sweater. At first I was disappointed, but the color is growing on me. I'm very curious to see how it knits up.

Potential Project 3 - She Said Aran designed by Barbara Venishnick. From Knitter's Magazine Winter 1999, #57.

I've been wanting to knit this sweater since I first saw it eight years ago. I love the way the cables turn into diamonds and finally join together at the top.

Swatching Yarns for She Said Aran

Left - Swish (100% superwash wool, worsted weight) in Wisteria. I'd love to knit another sweater in Swish. I'm hoping it works out gauge wise, but I'll only use it if the cables really pop.

Center - Wool of the Andes (100% Peruvian Highland Wool, worsted weight) in Amethyst Heather. I love this color. It's about time Stitches of Violet knit something in purple, don't you think?

Right - Wool of the Andes (100% Peruvian Highland Wool, worsted weight) in Iris Heather. Pretty but way lighter color than I want for this sweater. It's going in my CIC stash.

The pattern shows the She Said Aran knit in Cascade 220. That's what I'll use if I don't get the results I want with the Knitpicks yarn.

All opinions welcome. What should I knit next?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Monday Miscellany for November 26

An unrelated mix of information in response to recent comments and questions.

Fluffy Knitter Deb asked . . .
Couldn't you knit a smaller size in the bigger gauge and still use the yarn of your choice?
Sure I can although it's usually not as simple as that. For the Set-in Sleeve Aran, it's important that the center cable end in an attraction position, but I'm willing and able to plan ahead and do the math.

I haven't found the perfect yarn for this sweater yet. When I do find it, I may surprise everyone and cast on without a gauge swatch. But probably not.

Kathy and Dorothy both made nice comments about the Vesper Sparrow picture.

Dorothy asked . . .
Are you sure you didn't work for National Geographic in another life?
The camera (Canon S3 IS) does it all. I only turn it on, extend the zoom lens the amount I want, point, let the camera focus, and click.

It works better when my windows are cleaner. Need to address that soon.

The bird pictures on my blog are cropped using the software that comes with the camera. Super easy.

Marie asked about this picture . . .
Did you have much waste? And how did you know you would have enough yarn for sock #1 before breaking the wool for sock #2? By weight?

The amount of waste depends on length of the color repeats and where the sock starts in the color sequence. It's usually minimal.

I wind the balls before starting the socks and I know with yarn like Opal I'll have plenty of yarn, even when knitting for my large footed son. Should I ever run out of yarn (which has never happened unless I'm trying to eke out a second pair), I have a small stash of solid color leftover balls to finish the toes.

I divide the balls into equal balls using a kitchen scale I bought cheap at Target. A skein of Opal weights about 3.4 ounces, so each ball is approximately 1.7 ounces.

Another big big benefit of pre-winding the yarn is finding knots and other upsetting flaws before spending hours on knitting and then reaching the unpleasant surprise in the skein.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Three Excuses . . .

. . . for not having Autumn Song sewn together yet.

It's Thanksgiving.

I needed something simple to knit so I can jump up to prepare food and/or eat more food.

I took advantage of the season to get a good start on dog trainer Gail's Christmas socks.

Pattern: Basic socks on 64 stitches with k1p1 cuff and k7p1 leg.

Yarn: ON-line Supersocke, 75% wool 25% polyamide, fingering weight.

Color: Afrika, 992

Needles: 2.50mm circulars

Gauge: 8 stitches/10 rows per inch

It's Sale Time.

Amoung the many emails I've received from companies wanting my holiday dollars was an offer of "$0.00 Standard Shipping On $55 Orders - 4 Days Only" from Patternworks.

I am was considering Bretton, one of their house yarns, for the Set-in Sleeve Aran. In order to make the Sunday night deadline on the shipping offer, I had to stop all other knitting to quickly knit a gauge swatch to see if Bretton would work.

The required gauge for the sweater is 5 stitches/7.5 rows over sand stitch filler. My preliminary swatch, filler stitch only, was perfect gauge on #5 needles after being washed. I got very excited and knit the second, larger swatch over half the front pattern. It was an inch and a half too big.

Just goes to prove that gauge swatches only done on the filler stitch aren't worth a hill of beans. 1.5 inches on 1/4th of the sweater is 6 inches on the whole sweater.

I'm thankful I swatched this before ordering the yarn, but not happy I have one more swatch for this sweater that isn't close to the right size. Maybe I should think about knitting something else?

There will be no Patternworks order from me this weekend.

The birds must be fed.

It took me a while to identiy this unfamiliar visitor to the feeder. It's a Vesper Sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus).

They migrate late in the season. This one was probably just passing through.

The camera makes bird watching so much more fun. I can shoot pictures of the unidentified and compare them to the bird books until I'm sure of the name.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tuesday Tidbits

Autumn Song
Thank you for all the kind and encouraging comments on the Regrets on Missing Cable post.

I'm over my disappointment and looking forward to finishing the sweater soon. Estimated completion is this weekend or early next week.

It's time to sew things together. I'm capable of postponing that task for weeks so I mention a completion time to put some pressure on myself.

Surprise in the Mail
What's a better surprise than unexpected, gorgeous yarn in the mail?

Joanne in Oregon sent this Fancy Image hand dyed sock yarn by Myra at Fancy Image Yarns in Shelton, Washington. Isn't it pretty? It will be fun to try a new yarn. Thanks Joanne.

She also sent a sweet card featuring one of her bearded collies, champion Cee Cee.

The Castle Mouser
Pappy is growing out his winter coat, although so far we haven't had much winter. That's not a complaint. The longer winter takes to get here, the shorter it will be.

Here he is doing some serious rodent hunting in the late autumn weeds. I had no idea the field was full of shrews until Pappy started catching them this summer. I thought they were baby moles until someone straightened me out.

Sydney and Grandma on U Tube
For those who follow the family, there are some Sydney videos on John's Blog. There's one where I'm calling Sydney with a plastic pail over my head so my voice will echo. Yes, I do have fun in Idaho.

Just to prove it, here's a picture John sent. There are more in his latest Picture Trail album Fall Pictures of Sydney.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Lessons From Swatching

I've been wanting to knit this sweater ever since I first saw it on Janet's website. It's the Set-in Sleeve Aran in Janet's book Aran Sweater Design.

Since I want my next project to be written in English and a pattern I can follow with no or minor modifications, it appeared to be time to knit this sweater.

I also wanted to knit another sweater with Knitpicks Andean Treasure, a heathery sport weight baby alpaca. It's soft, cuddly, and a pleasure to wear. Like cashmere only much less pricey.

I assumed this sweater pattern would be perfect for the Alpaca because:
  • The cables aren't intense. (Andean Treasure has mediocre to poor stitch definition.)
  • There is no ribbing (Andean Treasure ribbing is worthless.)
  • The pattern is drapy so I could knit with a loose enough gauge to get pattern gauge, 5 stitches/inch in sand stitch.

One of the lessons from FLAK is that for an Aran sweater (or any sweater with multiple and diverse stitch patterns), it pays to knit a large swatch.

I like to swatch from the center panel back to the side seam. This almost guarantees a perfect fitting sweater. Plus it gives opportunity to become acquainted with the stitches (Do I want to knit this stitch for an entire sweater? Does this stitch look OK in this yarn at this gauge?)and the fabric (Is it too loose? Too tight? Is the color OK for this stitch pattern?)

I got stitch gauge, 5 stitches/inch in sand stitch, with my first swatch on #4 needles. But the row gauge was way off, 9 rows/inch instead of the needed 7.5 rows/inch.

Remember, I want to be lazy and not have to calculate and plan. Row gauge matters in this pattern, so I tried a second swatch with a #5 needle. The stitch gauge remained at 5, but there were still too many rows.

I knit a third swatch on #6 needles. The fabric was too loose, there weren't enough stitches/inch, and there were still too many rows.

Then I noticed what could have spared me knitting the last two swatches if I had been paying attention instead of stubbornly trying to get the Andean Treasure to work with this pattern. To fit, I needed 10 inches from center to side seam. The swatches have 13 inches from center to side seam.

Note to myself: Just because you make gauge on the filler stitch doesn't mean the sweater is going to come out the size you want. Measure the whole swatch! That's why you knit it!

Instead of the cables popping they plopped and spread.

They plopped because the Andean Treasure is sport weight so the fabric was loose and they plopped because alpaca doesn't have good stitch definition. So with two good reasons to plop, the plopping was impressive. Three inches worth of spreading.

Using Andean Treasure for this pattern won't work. Now I need to decide if I'm going to find another pattern for the yarn or find another yarn for the sweater or knit something completely different.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Autumn Song Socks Done

I love my new red socks.

Now I need to get the Autumn Song sweater done to go with them.

Pattern: Stitch pattern B from Herbstlied (Autumn Song) in New Style of Heirloom Knitting.

Yarn: Araucania Ranco fingering weight yarn, 75% wool 25% polyamide, hand dyed in Chile.

Color: Deep, warm rusty red. In the sunlight it looks like a carnelian stone.

Needles: Options 2.50mm circulars

Gauge: 8 stitches/10 rows per inch

You may remember that while I was in Idaho Linda forced me to accompany her to a Coeur d'Alene yarn store. It's not polite to visit a yarn store without buying something, so I picked out several skeins of sock yarn for holiday knitting.

DIL Anne requested dark blue/navy birthday (January 10) socks, so that's her yarn on the left.

Doggy school teacher Gail requested "multicolored socks that will go with a lot of things". She's been wearing browns lately, so that's her yarn on the right.

Both ladies are simple stitch pattern types. Gail even asked for "socks like these", and showed me the ribbed socks I made her two years ago. So I'm settling in for some rather boring sock knitting for two very special women.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Second Sleeve Done and Regrets on Missing Cable

The second sleeve is knit to the point it joins up with the front, back, and first sleeve. But first I need to get it blocked and dried.

Tuesday I received an email from Tenna about my Autumn Song sweater. It started out
Nice work, but apparently you missed the email that said how to do the oak leaves . . .

She went on to point out there's a cable at each oak leaf lobe absent from my interpretation of the pattern.

I didn't miss the email. In my instructions for making the oak leaf lobes written back in May I even wrote about the cabling. Then promptly forget to do it because the cross is not obvious on the chart.

I can see now that the cable would separate the leaf lobe more from the leaf body and make a more realistic oak leaf.

Today I'm a humble knitter.

It's taken me two days to get over wanting to frog the entire sweater and start over. Fortunately, I'm already swatching for my next project and looking forward to moving on to something in English.

I've never been unhappy with the way my leaves look and there is no point in being unhappy about it now. Give me a few more days and I'll be OK with my Autumn Song the way it's knit.

But if I ever knit this stitch pattern again, I'll cable.

Pattern: Herbstlied (Autumn Song) from New Style of Heirloom Knitting.

Yarn: Knitpicks Wool of the Andes, 100% wool.

Color: Firecracker heather

Needles: Options #5.

Gauge: 5.5 stitches/inch, 8.4 rows/inch in pattern

Click on the label Herbstlied at the end of this post to see all posts on this blog mentioning Herbstlied.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Monday Miscellany

An unrelated mix of information in response to recent comments and questions.

While I'm in Idaho, DH Bob takes very good care of the birds and the three dogs. It's a lot of work and he's always happy to see me get home.

Deb mentioned she checks my blog for new patterns. Yikes! It's been a long time since I've written a new pattern. Maybe I'll make a resolution to write a few in 2008.

Stahman's Shawls and Scarves by Myrna Stahman is self published and not available on Amazon except as a used book at over twice the price of a new copy. That's ridiculous! There are new copies to be had for $30 at yarn shops both local and online. I bought the Blogiversary prize copy at Schoolhouse Press.

If you like knitting books, I dare you to browse the books at Schoolhouse Press and not buy anything.

Aran Sweater Design by Janet Szabo is also self published and distributed. You can check out Janet's books, including this one, at Big Sky Knitting.

The FLAK pattern/tutorial is there, also.

I have two holiday recipes on my other blog, Seasons of Violet.

Upjohn Pumpkin Torte Back in the 80s when I worked for The Upjohn Company the cafeteria had a chef who made wonderful things from scratch. The Upjohn Pumpkin Torte is one of those wonderful things. It's a rich, heavenly dessert. Takes a little effort to make but it's not difficult and well worth the effort. For when you want a very special dessert.

Green Dream I've been making Green Dream for over thirty years. I guess it's a family tradition. It's the perfect holiday side dish for adding a slightly tangy accent with roast turkey. Wonderful to eat with cold turkey leftovers. It's very mid-American, very 70s, and very lime green. People either love it or hate it.

Would love to hear about your results if you make either or both of them.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Start of Acorn Second Sleeve

First goal for post-trip knitting is to get the sleeves knit for the Acorn Sweater.

I had to shorten the sleeves from the pattern's eight oak leaf length. In order to follow the chart for the neckline, I needed an even number of leaves, but wasn't sure six would make the sleeve long enough.

My FLAK fits perfectly, so I laid FLAK out on the table with the Acorn sweater on top. I was pleased and a little surprised to see my sleeve calculations are going to result in a sleeve that fits.

The cuffs will need to be about four inches long. Since they're an attractive, lacy ribbing, I'm not unhappy about that.

It was a cold, rainy day yesterday. I sat down to knit in the afternoon and actually thought I could produce a sleeve before bedtime.

How could I forget? Sleeves are the black hole of knitting. They possess the supernatural ability to stay the same size after hours of knitting.

The second sleeve is about one third done. I'll knit some more this afternoon, but no longer expect it to be done before the middle of the week.

Pattern: Herbstlied (Autumn Song) from New Style of Heirloom Knitting.

Yarn: Knitpicks Wool of the Andes, 100% wool.

Color: Firecracker heather

Needles: Options #5.

Gauge: 5.5 stitches/inch, 8.4 rows/inch in pattern

Click on the label Herbstlied at the end of this post to see all posts on this blog mentioning Herbstlied.

Friday, November 09, 2007

What I Did On My Idaho Vacation

I went Trick or Treating with Sydney the Bunny and her mom and dad.

Anne's sister Marta stayed home to pass out candy.

I played in the leaves.

(Thank you Anne for coming out and taking the picture.)

I played Hide and Seek.

I laughed at Son John.

(The shirt reads, "My Mom Says I'm Special.")

Also, I met Linda who blogs at The Bead Knitter Gallery for lunch at Michael D's in Coeur d'Alene. After lunch she took me to Harmony Yarn, the Coeur d'Alene yarn shop, where we both bought sock yarn.

We had cameras but were so busy yakking we forgot to take pictures. Guess we'll have to do that next time I'm in Idaho. I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Blogiversary Book Winners

For the third trip in a row Northwest Airlines delivered my body home a day late and completely exhausted. I hope to feel like a functional human being by tomorrow.

I loved reading all the Blogiversary comments while I was gone. The random number generator has had its say and the winners have been picked . . .

Knitting Ganseys by Beth Brown-Reinsel goes to Sheila who blogs at Knitting in the Desert.

Stahman's Shawls and Scarves by Myrna Stahman goes to Grace who blogs at Lovin Comfort Knits.

Aran Sweater Design by Janet Szabo goes to Joanne (luvbeardies). Joanne didn't leave a blog URL.

I've emailed the winners asking for their snail mail address. All three books arrived while I was away and are waiting to be mailed.

Congratulations to the winners and thank you, thank you for all the sweet comments.