29 May 2007

In between projects project

Star Decrease, originally uploaded by bunnieprops.

After finishing up the Icarus Shawl, I needed a bit of a mental break. Especially before starting the Fair Isle knee socks from Meg Swansen's Knitting for my brother. I had come across Knit and Tonic's Le' Slouch pattern after seeing it on another knitting blog and was compelled to make one. Just so happened I had a few skeins of cotton on hand that I thought would lend themselves nicely to the moss stitch and got knitting. I inherited the yarn from my brother who buys pretty things from the sales bin from time to time and can't figure out what to make with it. But the green isn't so much my colour.

As I was knitting it, I thought it would be a great way to get rid of some of my odds and ends from my stash. Leftovers from sweaters, my own sale bin finds with no inspiration. So Le' Slouch is going to be my in-between-projects project. One for each of my girls. This will make me feel less guilty about coveting those two luscious balls of whatever catches my eye in the sale bin in the future. Another Le' Slouch. I enjoyed knitting it so much, that I made two.

The Ribbing, originally uploaded by bunnieprops.

I also started on my brother's socks, despite the draw of knitting another Le' Slouch. I began with my favourite K1 P1 rib cast on, Italian Tubular, but after a couple of rows, the Fair Isle changed the nature of the ribbing to be not quite as elastic. So I started over with a more standard cast on (which I also enjoy). Now that I've started them, I'm super excited to work on them. The Tongue River Sock Yarn that I'm using seemed king of scratchy when I wound the skeins into cakes (is that the proper term?) but now that I've started working with it, the yarn is much softer to work with. And it already feels super strong. I'm already having fun and I've barely started them.

27 May 2007

Jane's Icarus Shawl

On the couch, originally uploaded by bunnieprops.

It's done. It's blocked. And it's fabulous!

What better thing to do on a cool rainy day in Montreal but to block the newly finished Icarus shawl?

The pattern is from Interweave Knits - Summer 2006. The yarn is Riversong Cashmere hand dyed by Virginia van Santen as Painted Yarns French Lilacs. Virginia passed away earlier this year, so this shawl has become a tribute to her wonderful work as a knitter, yarn painter and knitting mentor. She was very kind to my brother and I, letting us take over her yarn dyeing studio one week so we could learn her craft.

I started with this beautiful yarn to make a Print 'o' the Wave stole but reknitting it several times, I realised that I just didn't have enough yarn for it. I am happy that Eunny's pattern taught me a new cast on method, grafting and the knit on border concept, but this yarn was meant to be another shawl. I scrounged through the internet and my stash of Interweave Knits until I found this most lovely shawl pattern. I hoped and crossed my fingers that I'd have enough yarn to complete it. Sure enough I lucked out.

Yes this isn't the most complex of lace knit shawls, but I really like the way that the body of the shawl has a simple pattern that leads the eye to the much more detailed border. And as it happened with how the ball was wound, the most colourful part would be in the border where the colours could dance the most. And the monotony of the knitting was a nice break from Eunny's pattern.

I kind of got tired of knitting one row and then having to go unknit three. Counting the stitches at the end of each row is a necessity for lace knitting (I learn by doing, not so much from reading and/or following directions). Not to say that I didn't make any mistakes. I do that from time to time. But I was able to memorise the chart much much quicker, and managed to correct portions a row or two above if necessary. There were a few close calls regarding lack of yarn, but in the end, very little adjustments were required to make it to the end. And it doesn't really seemed to have affected the overall size of the shawl.

This is the first time I did the 'proper' lace blocking with all the pins. This part I did actually read about beforehand. My brother (who worked at a yarn shop, owns lots of knitting books and generally likes to know everything) said that this is usually done on the carpet. I have none. Not even an area rug. I had no idea how I could actually block this shawl. Ironing board? My couch?

Then reading in the back of my newly arrived A Gathering of Lace I got the brilliant idea to use my mattress. Genius! When talking to my non-knitting friend about it, she was appauled. She told me that I should rig up something on my wall, or wrap strings around everthing in my apartment, even to pin it to the curtains rather than use the mattress. All her suggestions made me laugh so much. She kept coming up with these outrageous suggestions that were WAY more complicated than just using the mattress.

I took pictures of my highly sophisticated blocking procedure. Click on the above picture to link to the Flickr set.

I wasn't sure how long the shawl would take to dry, so I got up early in the morning, and put it in the sink to soak. In my pajamas, I prepped the bed with a couple of towels and put the duvet and pillows on the floor. I drained the sink and oh so gently squeezed out as much of the water as I could without disturbing the yarn. Carefully laid out the shawl on the towel and began to put the pins in, using my canvas stretching techniques. There had to be some pinning strategy adjustments as I went. I ended up getting all obsessive when pinning the top of the shawl and placed about a bazillion to make sure it would be straight when it dried. I could see where the pin and string strategy would be a good idea. Next time.

It's amazing how no matter how pretty the yarn is, when it gets wet, it always smells like wet dog. But thankfully it really didn't take long to dry. I was kind of amazed by that actually. I tried it one and it's SO AMAZING! It's so pretty. And it makes me feel really pretty to wear it. So pretty that I did start to think that it looked good with the jeans and gray t-shirt I was wearing. Yeah.

So when/where/with what am I going to wear this shawl? No idea. I need to find a nice dress. I'm thinking a nice classic dress in a dove gray to set off the colours. I intend it for fancy events. Weddings being the only forseeable such event in my future and it's likely a few years until my cousin gets married. So I have some time to procrastinate the shopping for a dress.

7 May 2007

Drowning in my own Drool.

This is the most drool worthy handpainted yarn that I have seen since hanging out with Virginia van Santen. So many great colours. Such beautiful yarns. So nicely photographed and presented. It's like candy. Yummy.

4 May 2007

Time for a Design Change

sigh. Time to frog the shawl once more. I don't think I have enough yarn to make Eunny's Print 'O' the Waves Shawl. If I take out one of the pattern repeats from the body of the shawl, it will be more like a scarf with edging. Not really what I have in mind.

I think it's time for a design change. I shall have to find some kind of nice knitted lace caplet pattern instead. Sigh. Time to search through my Interweave Knits from season's past. My foggy memory makes me think that there was one in one of them. Somewhere...

3 May 2007

Jane’s Endpaper Mitts

Again inspired by a Eunny project, I used her Endpaper Mitts pattern to create my own version. It's spring and fingerless gloves are in order. But mostly I really liked the pattern and could instantly see it arise from some lovely grey brown and barely blue yarn that my brother donated to my recent addiction to Fair Isle. This is my third Fair Isle project.

I ended up reknitting these gloves 3 times. I restarted the first time after completed one whole glove realising I didn't want them to be so long and that I wouldn't have enough of the brown to complete both gloves. The second time was because I realised I was being quite paranoid about wrapping the yarns around each other and it created quite a stiff fabric and made the pattern harder to see. I couldn't quite bring myself to not wrap at all, despite reading that I didn't need to and my brother assuring me that it wasn't necessary. It really boils down to me just not liking the strands of yarn stretching across the inside of my gloves. That's the sort of thing that causes a fingernail to grab and pull when putting on the gloves. I can't have that.

I did modify the pattern a bit. Not so much ribbing. I'm more a fan of shorter ribbing to frame things these days. So to start with I did 10 rows of ribbing. Then along the top of the hand I did 5 rows of ribbing and 3 rows along the top of the thumb. I made the gloves shorter by only repeating Chart A once (instead of three times) and then starting the ribbing right at the end of the shaping Chart B.

I REALLY loved learning another cast on method. Italian tubular cast-on is now my favourite way of casting on for ribbing (as it should) and Kitchener rib bind-off my favourite way of binding off ribbing (as it should). And I was quite impressed with Eunny's clever inclusion of a solid brown knit row before beginning the ribbing at the top of the mitts. I'm sure this is fairly standard in the land of Fair Isle, but it never would have occurred to me.

If I were to make these mitts again, I would reduced the number of stiches before the ribbing at the top of the hand. I like how flexible and expandable the ribbing is, but don't like how there is a big opening at the top now. And they have relaxed a bit to be a little larger, so I would probably make them on smaller needles as well.

Jena’s Argyle Socks

Based on Eunny Jang's Mini-Argyle Stocking and the Lang Sockology pattern for knee socks and sizing ratios, I created a lovely pair of knee high socks for a friend and sock officianado currently doing her Master's in Ireland. They were a belated birthday present.

This was my first foray into Fair Isle knitting. I got the idea to make argyle socks and found Eunny's Unique creation through Google and knew they would be perfect for Jena (with color substitution). I like the idea of pairing a varigated color with a solid so that the very strong patterning of the Argyle would be a little subtler. Really the varigated sock yarn that I found was a perfect match to Jena's personality and so had to be used.

I found out later on my third Fair Isle project that I was a little crazy and paranoid about weaving the colors together which created a much stiffer fabric. I have fixed this but still can't stand leaving much more than 2 stitches in between weaving like a crazy person. Those strands of yarns that get left on the inside of a piece are a personal pet peeve.

reuse, reduce, recycle or just repurpose.

Right. I haven't posted much of anything on this since I signed up in 2003. I have opted for using other blogging things and have become a fractured person. MySpace is for music events. LiveJournal for keeping up with my real life peeps who are scattered about the world and a blog on my website for keeping my parents and remote family members up to date on my life.

This blog will stay fairly anonymous, a challenge for me. Writing without people already knowing me or at least having met me. The closest you'll get is from my previous posts and the cartoon version of me as my profile picture.

Strangely Blogger hasn't figured into any of this in the 4 years that I've had an account. But now I think I shall use this for my crafty endeavors. I knit. I crochet. And I am rediscovering embroidery. The first and last thing I embroidered was my backpack in grade 8 where it was all free form flowers, suns, and a tree I think. I made up stitches to make it all happen and I'm sure it's more impressive in my memory than in reality. Sadly no pictures have survived and the backpack went back to Eddie Bauer in exchange for one without a broken zipper.

I am currently working on a lovely knitted lace shawl adapted from Eunny Jang's Print 'O' the Waves Shawl to use one skein of very lovely handpainted yarn by Virginia van Santen as that's all that I have. Unfortunately this has meant I am now reworking the border for the third time. I keep running out before getting remotely close to finishing going all the way around. I really hope third times a charm as I really don't feel I can take much more out of the body of the shawl without completely reknitting it. And the cashmere at the beginning of the body can't survive another reknitting.

Finger's crossed.