Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Laser Sweater is done!

Pictures says it all!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Steeking & Stuff

I finally, after the dust of August had settled, got down to brass tacks. The neck opening has been steeked, stitches picked up and the collar knitted, and the sleeves been seamed to the underarms.The steeking itself, contrary to the old saw that one should never take scissors to knitting, was no sweat, I used the crocheted steek as was discussed in Eunny's blog (http://www.eunnyjang.com/knit/2006/01/the_steeking_chronicles_part_i.html). This particular steek anchors the stitches very nicely and it has some stretch, which is very important for the neck opening.There is one point to keep in mind when doing this steeking ~ use yarn of a contrasting color when crocheting the anchoring chain stitches. This will make it very easy to see the 'ladders' that must be cut and save your eyes from strain. Don't worry about the contrasting yarn showing through on the right side of the finished sweater, because it won't. The nice thing about knitting and designing a sweater from the top down is that you can try on the work-in-progress, take note of issues and come up with some creative solutions. Unfortunately, the solutions bumped the pattern from intermediate to experienced. I apologize to those hoping for an easier pattern, but knitting a fabric from sleeve to sleeve came with its own set of problems when trying to fit it on the human body. I love challenges and will keep working on it.
I've already outlined the pattern and drew up what I want the sweater to look like. There are quite a few techniques involved and if you are unfamiliar with them, I've listed articles from CAST-ON that may help you. These articles can be found on www.TKGA.com.
~On Your Way to the Masters:Tension Problem by Arenda Holladay. This is a good article when dealing with cables.
~On Your Way to the Masters: Picking Up Stitches by Arenda Holladay.
~ On Your Way to the Masters: Ribbing Increases by Vanessa Montileone.
~ On Your Way to the Masters: Seams - Part 1 by Arenda Holladay.
~ On Your Way to the Masters: Seams - Part 2 by Arenda Holladay.
~ On Your Way to the Masters: Keys to Successful Duplicate Stitch by Kathryn Mates.

I most likely will add this list to the sweater pattern.

Happy Holiday and knit on!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sweater is Coming Along....

The sleeves and shoulders of my laser sweater was finished and blocked about three weeks ago. Then the project stalled. It wasn't lack of inspiration or steam, I just basically hit the wall due to over stimulation from outside sources. My house got invaded by Danes, and now that they are gone I am packing for my vacation to the Pacific Northwest. And "NOOOOO-o-o-0", I am not taking my project with me since one of my fears is that airport security would confiscate my knitting needles since they do look like weapons. Those knitting needles of mine comes from an expensive set and I'd die if those neanderthals got their hands on it and chuck it into the trash.

Never fear, when I get back, I will have a friend take pictures of me steeking the collar. I will try to give a detailed step-by-step instructions along with pictures so that you can reproduce how I steek and pick up stitches for the neck opening. Trust me, it will be very painless and almost foolproof (I hope).

So, check back about mid-August. Hopefully I will be back by then and not hopelessly lost somewhere in the San Juan Islands.

Enjoy the summer and keep knitting!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


The sleeves and shoulder are progressing well, far better than I expect it would. Now all I can hope for is that my sailing and racing skills will improve in time to equal my artistry with knitting needles. The Laser is a frightfully powerful sailboat, and I am sure it will take time and practice before I become comfortable with it. Sailing a Laser, like knitting, takes diligence and practice before you can master it.

As you can see, one sleeve and the shoulder is done. Now I am working down the other sleeve. You may notice that I've stopped cabling the central pattern and just knitted it straight. That stockinette portion is my steek ~ where I will cut it open, pick up stitches and knit the neckband. Never fear, I will have someone take pictures of this process so you can see how I do it.

The piece is getting long, floppy and unmanageable, especially when you are knitting it back and forth. My solution to this annoyance is to swaddle the piece.

Swaddling is simply taking a cloth and tying up your work in a nice bundle while leaving the working end free so you can continue knitting. The compact bundle is much easier to maneuver rather than having the work sprawled all over the place. I've swaddled just about everything; the body and sleeves of a sweater while working on the yoke, scarves, lace projects, etc. The bottom line is that if the knitted work starts becoming unwieldy, then swaddle it.

Swaddling your knitting also has the added benefit of keeping it clean while you are working on it. The cloth used for tying up the bundle would protect the knitting from pilling and/or felting as you constantly shift it around while working on it.

All in all, it is a very simple and effective solution! I hope you will consider swaddling in your future projects to keep your work neat and sharp looking.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Laser Sweater WIP

There is a charming little store on the main street of Caledonia called Henny's Yarn Shop (http://www.hennysyarnshop.com/). The proprieter, Henny Stauffer, had talked me into knitting up something masculine for her to display at the shop. I was more than happy to do it, both to show off my knitting prowess and to get the yarns at a discount.
I've decided to design and knit a sweater of an unusual construction. Some parts of it would be a challenge, but I think I can pull it off. I will be charting my progress on this blog along with some technical ideas or hints in case someone gets stuck on the pattern
The sweater will be first knitted from sleeve to sleeve in the flat. This piece will then be lightly blocked to even out the edges for easier seaming. A neckhole will be cut into the piece using a pair of scissors, the stitches picked up and a neckband knitted from that. The sleeves would then be seamed to the underarms, stitches picked up around the chest and back, and the rest of the sweater knitted in the round to the waist. I have heard or read of a sweater made this way before, but can't remember where I got this in formation. So, I will be making everything up as a knit along.
I casted on using a tubular cast-on method. This gives a sharp, professional looking and elastic edge, especially if 1x1 ribbing is involved. I chose this cast-on because it matches with the tubular bind-off. So, both sleeves will have tubular edges.

The tubular cast-on and knitting is exceptionally loose. For one row, only the knit stitches are knitted while the purl stitches are slipped, so it takes 2 rows of tubular knitting to come up with one row of 1x1 rib. For this reason I always do tubular 3 needle size smaller than what the rest of the sweater requires. The tubular portion of the cuff was knitted in US size 4 needles, and I switched to US size 7's for normal 1x1 ribbing. As you can see, the stitches are the same size and everything looks sharp.
The increase between the cuff and sleeve was done in the ribbing portion. Increases were evenly spaced (more or less) using the k1f&b method on the knit stitches. This way the bar to the left would be hidden int he purl gutters of the 1x1 ribbing.
The sleeve, obviously, is heavily cabled. These cable patterns I got from Barbara Walker's treasuries. There aren't any official meanings assigned to the patterns, but I picked them out out because they meant something to me. The four cables reminds me of the sheets and lines in the Laser sailboat, of which there are plenty. Here's hoping that they stay tidy and organized, not all in a tangled mess. The waves or ripples are the waters the Laser sails on and the wind it harnesses. The central gullwing pattern looks to me like the wake made by a speedy Laser. If these pattern don't appeal to you, you can choose your own.
The yarn for the sleeve is a Cascade 220 in light grey. With textural work I favor solid and light colors. Veregations or yarns with colorways would not work since the horizontal color bands would detract from the vertical cables. You can probably get away with yarn that is lightly heathered, and that's about it. Dark colors should be discouraged since it absorbs light and makes it hard to see the cable patterns.
Smooth yarns of 3 or more plies are excellent for cabling work. Save your novelty yarns for a different project where the texture of the cable patterns are not critical. If you want your cables to lie a bit flatter, then use a 2-ply yarn.
There will be more to discuss later as the project progresses. If you have any questions, let me know. I'll try to answer them on my next post.
Keep on knitting.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Home Sweet Homestead

I spent a good part of last Saturday making newspaper pots, filling them with seed-starter mix, and sticking seeds into them. With Spring on the way it was time to get into gear on getting the garden ready. So far I have eggplants, peppers and tomato germinating by a sunny window. I obviously will do more as we draw closer to Memorial weekend. I've also moved all my knitting stuff to the homestead. I don't have a whole lot of free wallspace for storage in the city, but the homestead does. I am pleased that I now can keep all my knitting stuff in one place instead of having them scattered all over the house.
I've finished the shawl I've been working on. The yarn was a natural wool/cashmere blend, very soft and very warm. The pattern was striking with the central rose motif and the 'Olde Shale' pattern radiating from it.
My current knitting projects are bath-puffies (very easy) knitted with "yarn" made from aloo, and a pair of lacy woman's socks of superwash merino yarn. I am knitting the socks in my typical way ~ I just cast on and start knitting the toe and lower foot without worrying too much about gauge. I just stop increasing the toe when I think the sock is at the perfect width and knit the lower foot straight. After I've finished a couple of inches, I then measure gauge and calculate where I would have to begin the instep increases. It is a nutty way to knit socks, but it suits me since I am a nutty person.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


I've finished the third and last level of TKGA's Master Hand Knitting program. I have not yet heard back from the committee on whether I have passed or not. Needless to say, I am sitting on pins and needles around here. It would be nice to get this over with so that I can move on to other projects.
The gansey I was working on IS done! I finished it it before Thanksgiving of last year and it fits like a dream. It was an instant hit at the holiday gatherings. People have been calling it the 'sailing sweater' since it has my boat's logo and number stitched into the back. I love it and I wear it as often as I can.
My knitting project for now is a simple lace shawl using yarn of a wool/cashmere blend. It is a little something to keep me occupied and my mind off of my level III submissions.

I am also taking a writing course. For my next assignment I have to write a short fiction. I already have a good idea of what I am going to write about, which I won't reveal here. What I would like to say is that the story will take place on Beaver Island. It has been ages since I've been to Beaver Island, yet that magical place has constantly been on my mind. I still remember the waves crashing onto a beach full of smooth pebbles. I still remember that dew-covered spider web glistening in the morning sun. And I still remember the circles of stones that predates European arrival to the island. I have a sneaking suspicion that those stones were put up by the original natives in worship of storms.
On my last trip to Beaver Island I found a cairn, and as I added a stone to it I offered up a prayer for a sign that the island is aware and has blessed me. Later that evening a young buck came to within three feet of me, stomping and snorting, in the soft rain. I had to laugh at the incongruity of the situation, which scared the buck off. At that moment the rain stopped and a perfect rainbow appeared in the sky. That buck and the rainbow was the sign I prayed for. That moment I felt I was home.
It has been three years, and yet the island still tugs at my heartstrings. There's something about the landscape that is both beautiful and ethereal. And there is something about the people with their warmth and beliefs in unseen powers.
I've been thinking about all this this lately and how much I would like to design and knit a sweater to commemorate Beaver Island. It would be an Aran sweater, of course, made from a heathered undyed tan wool with bits of blue, green and violet. The patterns would tell a story of the island ~ the ropes of the fishing trade in the 1800's, living in close ties with nature, the otherworldlyness of the island, and so much more. The idea is a bit vague and misty, and I will have to do some experimenting with Aran patterns to find what I am searching for.