Yarn along

I’ve discovered the yarn along on the blog Small Things, so I thought I’d join in this week.

Here is my picture of what I am reading and knitting.

The socks are still the stage 1 socks from Tour de Sock, although you can see some progress from the last post. I’m now up to the blue, so the end of the rainbow is in sight. I’ve switched back to two at a time for the last bit so I don’t have to worry about whether the feet are the same length. I’m a little concerned that the yarn will run out before they are long enough, but I think I will be able to use the deep purple yarn from the Calable socks to do the toes if necessary.

The book is Bowling Avenue by Ann Shayne (of Mason-Dixon Knitting), a novel set during the Nashville floods a few years ago. Strictly speaking, I’ve already finished reading this, but it was such a good book that I wanted to recommend it. There is a tremendous sense of place in the novel, and I found the characters, particularly the main character, really interesting. Can’t beat having a knitting sub-plot as well! I’m sure that a picture of the book I am reading would be a lot better if I wasn’t reading it on the kindle. Ah well.

This evening it is a meeting of Deanery Synod. This is one of the meetings where I take my knitting along and actually do knit through it. The trick with knitting two socks at once is to wear a cardigan or jacket with pockets and keep one ball of yarn in each side.

Go to the mattress stitch

I’ve discovered mattress stitch, or as June Hemmons Hiatt (in the enormous brick that is The Principles of Knitting) has it, running thread seam. The main annoying thing about that book is that she refuses to use common parlance, in favour of renaming almost everything. What is worse, is that the index then becomes less than helpful, other than as a general direction to the relevant chapter.

Anyway, I’ve discovered mattress stitch. I may be some time. Despite the main body of my son’s birthday sweater being knit in one piece, there are a lot of seams to sew.

The end of an era and a new start

Yesterday morning, at approximately 5am, a significant milestone was reached: I finished listening to episode 91 of Cast On. When I started listening to Cast On, I downloaded the most recent series at that point, beginning at episode 92. Then after I reached episode 98, there were no more new episodes for a few months so I went back and started to listen from the beginning, as well as catching up with the new ones. Episode 91 was the very last one I had to listen to.

At first I used to listen in the car on the way to meetings, but then for the last four months Cast On began to accompany me through early morning feeding times. I think I will forever associate the mellow tones of Brenda Dayne with being slightly sleep deprived and holding a small, hungry baby in the dark.

I can’t quite express how comforting it has been to hear Brenda chatting away about knitting, this week’s sweater, adventures in natural dying, life in South Wales and many other things.  Brenda, I’ll miss hearing you every day, but I’ll still be downloading the new episodes: thank you. At least there are other knitting-related podcasts to listen to as well. Hey, maybe the baby will get the hint that it might be time to sleep through the night, or maybe not!

So that was the end of an era. The new start was a knitting group. At the farmers’ market last week, I discovered that there is a new weekly knitting group meeting in the King’s Head at Nafferton on a Wednesday afternoon. I won’t be able to go every week, but I drove over there this week and had a lovely time. Kath from Little Houndales Knits was there and there were many people who were happy to entertain the baby while I knit a few rows on my socks. It is just so lovely to chat about knitting with people who understand.

I’ve finished the heels of my Sweet Tomato Socks. Very clever sockitecture, I like it. The only downside is that the heel uses two thirds of the stitches, so it is a bit tricky to adapt other patterns to use this heel. Maybe I’ll just work a few of the patterns in the book. It’s not as if I am short of sock yarn! Anyway, I’m heading up the legs, using the Eskarina leg pattern.

 

Sweet Tomato Eskarina Coriolis

For the first time since last July, I had no socks on the needles, and not even a second sock to do. This state of affairs began at the end of February and continued until yesterday. Of course, there was a scarf being made with sock-weight yarn, but it didn’t have the portability of a sock.

This sad situation has now been remedied. I’m using the March yarn from the Sock Club I am in: When Granny Weatherwax Knits Socks from The Knitting Goddess. The yarn and pattern are both inspired by Terry Pratchett’s book Equal Rites. The yarn is pale blue, with flashes of red and yellow. The pattern (Eskarina) looks nice enough, but I have a hankering to learn a new sock construction.

The sock construction I am using is Cat Bordhi’s Sweet Tomato (I have to remind myself to say Tom-may-to rather than Tom-mar-to) Heel. I love the sweeping curl of the Coriolis design she uses. I’ve knitted the version from New Pathways for my sister and the Sweet Tomato Heel version was released last week. So, there we have it. I could just knit the Sweet Tomato Heel Coriolis, but I want to give at least a mention in the socks to the Eskarina pattern.

In the New Pathways Coriolis, Cat mentions that you can widen the coriolis band – let’s hope the same applies to the Sweet Tomato version! I’m going to attempt to widen it enough to fit one repeat of the Eskarina lace pattern in it. It will take a bit of working out, but I have confidence that it can be done. I’ll start the Coriolis band a bit further up the foot to ensure that it will be in the correct place to avoid the heel.

So far, I have three inches of toe, working two at a time on two circs. Pictures in due course, when something interesting happens. I think we’ve all seen sock toes before.

 

Elektra – part the second

Since I last posted, I have mostly been knitting away on Elektra, which is now completed and sitting on the blocking board.

The pattern starts with a cast-on of just over 100 stitches, increasing to a total of around 450 per row by the end. The yardage in the pattern was slightly more than in the skein I was using, and there was an option of doing one less repeat of chart B if there was any doubt of whether the yarn would be enough.

The question became how to decide whether there would be enough yarn, since the decision needed to be made quite near the beginning of the pattern. I put together a spreadsheet with the stitch count for each row and worked out that at the point of decision I needed 72.76% of the yarn left to do the full number of repeats or 68.65% to do one repeat less. I knew the yarn was around 100g (probably a bit more, but I didn’t weigh it to begin with) and I had 78g left at that point – looked promising, so I did the extra repeat.

The pattern was a real pleasure to knit – mostly garter stitch, but with enough lace sections in the main part to make it interesting, then a lace border.

With four rows to go, it was looking a bit touch and go as to whether there would be enough yarn.
Before bind-off

There wasn’t. Despite all the calculations, there were only 2 yards left when I got to the bind-off row, so I ended up with a contrast bind-off.

I would have liked blue, but didn’t have quite the right one.
Possible bind-offs

The orange looked just fine.
Finished

Lessons:

  • Weigh the yarn before the start of the project.
  • Lace takes up more yarn than garter stitch

Elektra

Having been especially virtuous and finished two long-standing wips (yes, the Paintbox Socks are complete – see right) in February, I had the luxury of casting on for absolutely anything I wanted.

I’ve been considering shawls for a while, and bought the 7 Small Shawls e-book last month, so I decided to pick from my sock yarn stash and go for the shawl that appealed to me the most.

The shawl I picked was Elektra, and the yarn was some German sock yarn found by my Mum. Very long colour changes from darkest blue to palest grey. Gorgeous colours and I thought it would be good in a shawl knit top to bottom or bottom to top, rather than side to side. Sadly, I got through about 5 rows before giving up and ripping back. The yarn is a single ply and is really fuzzy and splitty. I couldn’t get the M1s to work nicely and I think the fuzziness would obscure the lace. Beautiful though it is, I’m not sure I will ever use that yarn for anything.

The second attempt at Elektra is using some Knitting Goddess sock yarn given to me by my sister-in-law for my last birthday (actually so was the yarn used in those socks – she has very good colour-sense) and is a combination of browns, oranges and bright blue called ‘All at Sea’. It is lovely and the shawl is getting on very nicely.

This evening I ended up creating a large spreadsheet to calculate the percentage of stitches completed at various stages of the shawl so I can make sure I’m not going to run out of yarn. If I do the suggested number of repeats, there will be over 29000 stitches in the shawl. If I do one less repeat, there will be 5000 fewer stitches. This decision has to be made at around a third of the way through the shawl, so there will be some precision-weighing in a few days.

The first 50 rows are very straightforward: mostly garter stitch with evenly spaced increases. Very relaxing.

Yesterday I had a training day with work that suggested I should embrace my enthusiasms and work with them rather than trying to fit some generic model of what a priest is meant to be. I’ve ordered a few books on knitting and spirituality to see what I can learn about it. Should be interesting.

Smaller needles

I’ve already mentioned that the Neckdown Wrap Cardigan is my first adult-sized cardigan. I expected that there would be a fairly steep learning curve, but didn’t realise quite how that would manifest itself.

Some people read instructions, others prefer to wing it. Some people treat instructions as a prescriptive method to follow, for others they are mere guidelines to be interpreted or ignored according to whimsy. When it comes to knitting, I read instructions, and almost invariably follow them slavishly. When I started knitting this cardigan I read the instructions, bought the two extra sets of dpns that I would need and went through the pattern circling all the numbers applicable to my size. I also highlighted a couple of other instructions that I thought I might miss. I know. Sorry about that.

Yesterday I picked up, as planned, the 214 stitches for the neckband and merrily knit the two garter ridges. As I put the knitting away at the end of the evening I was happy in the knowledge that this morning I only needed to cast off the stitches and the neckband would be done. When I got it out this morning, the neckband looked a bit rubbish. I checked the pattern numbers. Yes, I had picked up the right number of stitches, I had knit the correct number of rows. Just one small problem – I had ignored the instruction (clearly circled in the pattern by me) ‘using the smaller needles’.

On a not un-related subject, today I have been inserting a lifeline, ripping 4 rows back and re-knitting. It looks much better now, particularly since I made the neckband a bit wider as in the photo on the pattern.

In the next exciting instalment: sleeves.

Etcetera

You’ll never guess what I’ve been knitting.

Yes. More long, long rows of cardigan. Only a few more rows to go, then the sleeves and the edging. The next decision will be how to mask the change in dye-lot for the last two skeins.

There’s a new book on my wishlist: The Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt. I’ve heard that the first edition is a bit of a classic that has been hard to source for ages. The second edition was published yesterday and has been thoroughly updated. I can’t decide whether to get it for the Kindle or as a hardback. It is about 900 pages so would be a bit of a doorstop.

Back to the second of the Pot Pourri Socks now. I’m moving slowly down the leg, thanks to a weekend away where it really wasn’t practical to fit the cardigan in the car, not without leaving one of the children behind anyway.

Four more rows

Knitting activity yesterday and today:

  • I’ve done my daily 4 rows on the Neck Down Wrap Cardigan. Nothing very interesting about that, either in the knitting or the talking about it. 4 inches of the 6 inches at the bottom of the cardigan now done.
  • Yesterday I also cast on the second sock on my Pot Pourri Socks. First sock pictured left. These are lovely to knit, apart from the double figure of eight wraps which take a really long time. Every 7th row you can see the lovely flash of colour that the wraps give: worth it in the end.
  • Listening to old episodes of the Fibre Beat podcast. I’ve been downloading this for a year or so, but never got round to listening to it before. So far, the episodes I’ve been listening to have concentrated on one issue in depth each episode – a nice contrast to the more magazine-like structure of my favourite podcast.

Looking at what I’m knitting at the moment, you might be forgiven for thinking that knitting bores me and is a chore. Far from it, in the last few years I’ve found knitting to be more interesting than I ever thought possible. One of the reasons for writing here is to keep a note of all the new and interesting things I come across. Still, there is no getting away from the fact that I am currently on a drive to finish up old works in progress (WIPs) and there isn’t a whole lot that is thrilling about that.

 

Debut

Welcome to the beginning of this blog.

I’ve been thinking recently that I wanted somewhere to write about knitting in more detail than most of my Facebook friends might appreciate, and at greater length than Twitter allows. The result of this train of thought is this blog, so I hope you enjoy reading.

Here is a brief overview of current knitting activities:

  • A top-down raglan wrap cardigan. This is my first adult-sized sweater. I’m at quite a boring bit, so have a daily ration of at least four rows (they are quite long) before doing any other knitting.
  • The second of a pair of socks is going to be cast on any day now. I knitted the first one in July and August before getting caught up in Sock Sniper and Tour de Sock, so I really ought to get back to it before too long.
  • During night feeds (2 month old daughter) I’m catching up on old episodes of the podcast Cast On. I only started listening regularly at episode 92, so went back to the beginning and I’m now up to episode 64.