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bits and pieces

So many projects.  So many techniques.  I move from knit to crochet to quilting to Zentangles to embroidery and embellishments.  Why am I not crazy?

Because of the One Great Commonality:  They all are done in bits and pieces.

Now with patchwork quilting, this is obvious.  Embroidery and embellishments are add-ons, so they easily fit this hypothesis.  Zentangles?  This is a meditative doodling technique where you randomly section off a square and then fill in each with a pattern.  Sort of patchwork with a pen.

Crochet?  For me, it’s usually freeform.  Make a bunch of pieces; arrange them in the shape you need; join them; fill in the holes with more pieces.  It’s a building process, and it is similar to quilting.  You can also embellish it, even with embroidery.

Knitters can also do freeform work, but my bits and pieces is more than that.

When I make a sweater, I build it.  I think of the parts as I work.  One neckline, one back, one -two fronts, etc.  And any of these parts can be more than one piece; think color blocking.

So, my latest project shouldn’t surprise me, but it did.

I want to make some very openwork,  let a breeze blow through vests.  These are for those of us who really want to cover our arms in the summer.  However, those of us who really want to cover our arms do not need anything to help us be warmer—not in the sunny South.

I started by looking for someone else’s pattern.  I found a modular shrug by Iris Schreier in  her Lacy Little Knits.  Now I know ladies with big “girls” do not look good in shrugs.  I also know that a bunch of triangles (as in this pattern) will not fit a curvy body.  Still, I started the pattern.  When I don’t really know what to do, I just do something and hope I don’t hurt myself.

I knit the back triangle of the pattern.  I looked at it.  It looked familiar.  I fiddled and folded and realized it looked like a sleeve.  A sleeve that falls in a point.

A fluttery point.  If I put it across my shoulder, the pointy end draped down my arm and covered the wobbly bits.  The straight section of the triangle that was knit to build height looked like an underarm seam.  Hmmmmmmmmmm.

I knit another one.

Then I knit a rectangle to join them and named it “Back.”  I just guessed at a size.  If it is too wide, I’ll gather it.  Summer vests need to be roomy to let in the cool air.  I basted them together and tried it on.

Then I drew.  I needed to discover what shapes would be necessary to make the other parts of the vest.  I didn’t bind off anything.  Just cut the yarn 6 inches long and added waste yarn to hold the stitches.  Makes it easier to add on (or take out) to continue.

I like V necks and the “sleeve” has some sloped sides to accommodate, so I lay out a triangle for the bodice.  I proceeded confidently even though I had no idea what I was doing.  Sometimes confidence is rewarded.  I measured gauge and computed how many sts I needed.  Five rows in, I knew I was wrong, so I pulled out and cast on a larger number.  I did the increases every four rows because that usually works, and it did.  When it was long enough, I stopped knitting.

Basted it to the shoulder and sleeve and tried it on.  This is crucial.  You have to temporarily assemble and try on in order to really know what you have.  Measurements lie.

I know I need some extra inches in the underarm so I continued the back with a cast on of 6 sts at the end of the next two rows.  I chose 6 because of gauge and trying not to screw up the st pattern.  If it isn’t enough, I’ll know when I try it on before  I start the fronts.  I’ll just add more there.

I’m a little worried about the pointy sleeves.  I can use a ribbon and cinch them up for a frill effect.

This is it so far.  How will I finish the back? Fronts? Sleeves? etc.

No idea, but I’ll let you know when I do.  And you thought designing was hard.

More later–

Update on some explorations

Funky Artyarn Spinning

Coffee cup cozy

Put a button on the ugly cozy.  Couched some of the blue stuff on my practice embroidery piece.  Used Perle cotton and made two couch sts at each point.  Used the embroidery hoop as a guide for the placement.  Good idea for leftover yarn you love.

EmbroideryI may have Unvented this stitch.  I’ve seen Bullion st flowers, but here I forgot what I was doing and made Buttonhole st petals.  I like this mistake.  I just took a big st and then filled it in with Buttonhole st like you do when you make a buttonloop.  I’ll take some pics of the process and post later.

I’m still embellishing the wet felt silk scarf.  I sewed seed beads in a leaf shape and embroidered the center vein.  Above right is a buttonhole spiral just improvised.  To the left is an outline of something??  Note the different colored threads.The big thing is done in two colors of perle cotton.  I did some lazy daisy st in the blue and then just started running st and then just ran the sts in a spiral.  It looked plain and unfocused, so I tried to fix it with the lovely chartreuse.  I couched each side of the chain and then ran sts between the running sts.  Better, but not great.

The patch of burgundy at the bottom shows some running sts in a green sewing thread.  I wanted to secure those fibers.  Would have been better had I used thicker thread or even beads.  Of course, that can still be done.I love these ferny, feather stitches.  Using the green yarn made me think of fiddlehead ferns.  I’m enjoying this activity as much as I enjoyed the felting class.  Wonder what else I’ll sew on this thing.  I think I have some feathers somewhere in just these colors.

Jake got a haircut

Jake didn't like getting a haircut, and . . .

he doesn't want his picture taken.

What have you been exploring?  It is spring–well, almost; time to try a new thing.

Yoke Sweater Sleeves

The top down yoke sweater, my first ever yoke sweater, is almost finished.  Nothing like going from 80 degree weather to 17 degree and having no coat to give you the push you need to finish knitting a sweater.  Yes, I plan to wear it home.

What have I learned?

First, that Amy Herzog was right.  My body type can wear this style.

Yokes are fun because you can do some fancy stuff there and then keep it simple and non-chunky around your my chunky body.

The armcye.  Well, that’s the place I am still experimenting.  I took my basic design from a general plain pattern.  I knit one size for the back based on my shoulder measurements and a size larger for the front.  The yoke was short rowed for the front in order to cover the girls like I wanted while keeping the shoulder seams equal.  This means the front of the armscye is a bit longer than the back.

Well tailored jackets do not create fronts and backs the same as do most knit patterns.  That is because—I’m preaching here—fronts and backs are the same size only on prepubescent children.

I am doing top down sleeves starting with picking up around the armscye and short rowing for a cap, etc.

I think this first sleeve used too many short rows.  After all the cap part of this sleeve is very small because much of the over shoulder onto the arm is done by the yoke.  Also picked up a few more stitches on the front than the back.  It seems to buckled a bit, just a bit, there.  Remember that I’m making these judgments about an unblocked sweater.

Looking at it again, I think that the short rows should start wider than I did.  I just used the same ratio I always use and that was the error.  I think!

Second sleeve will differ from the first in to correct these things.  No!  I will not frog the first sleeve.  I’ll wear it and remember what I learned.

Do you keep a knitting journal?  You know, with pictures of your projects, the data about needles and yarn and gauge.  If you do, good on ya.  We all should.  Another thing you should add to this journal is a reflection on what you learned from the project, what you wish you had done differently, what you will try next time.  You think you will remember and you won’t.

You could add that to your ravelry notes.  Then the rest of us could learn from you.

More later—

Home in a week.

Jane Goes Walkabout

I know I promised to update on some knit projects, but first — big news.  Steve’s job is taking us to Australia for a couple of months.  Sudden?  Oh, yeah!  He found out yesterday and he leaves probably Thurs of next week.  I follow ASAP.  Only downer–Jake can’t go; he has to stay with Meghan.  At least he will have Evan and the big dog, Thor.

I have seached for yarn shops and knit groups.  Isn’t that always the first step?  We will be in Brisbane, big city with beaches and lots of stuff to see.  I am stunned–just stunned.

Now the knitting—Ah, yes, a bathroom shot.  This is my Seven Circle in Silk Garden Sock by Noro.  Used a size 4 needle.  Easy, easy knit and really a cute way to keep the neck warm.  Or at least the chest.  I did make it a bit bigger than called for because I hate things against my throat.  I do recommend this if you have a bunch of gifts to knit.

The Seduce project that has been 5 or 6 things–

it is finally a vest.  I know this is a strange view, but at least it is in focus, unlike . . .

I still love this yarn.  Talk about strong.  First I knit a vest, then a cardigan, then began a yoke sweater and now this—all with the same yarn and it still looks great.  I love the closure I came up with.  I hate buttons.

Did a chemo hat for a friend of Erica’s.  I used Panda Silk doubled on a size 4 needle.  It felt great.  What is it about doubled yarn that I love so much?  I should experiment more because everything I have knit doubled so far has had a lovely hand.  Lace weight doubled is really drapey.

Anyway, I did put an easily detachable pumpkin greenery on top and Erica called to tell me Roger wore it to chemo with an orange shirt and cracked up the entire place with his Great Pumpkin interpretation.  Glad to bring some joy in his life.

New pattern sent to Knitcircus and some other secret knitting that I can’t show.

I have finally finished the first part of the Daybreak Shawl Adaptation and can begin the ruffle and trim.  The size is perfect and I can write the pattern shape based on the second side.  See, I knit the first side, went to school on what I didn’t like, rewrote for the second side and liked it.  Once it is on my body, no one will know they are not alike.  Sometimes it pays to lower your standards.

What do you take for a 15 hour plan ride?

More later–

Leading a Knitalong

How is leading a knitalong different from teaching a class.  It’s more fun for me!  I get to just knit for long periods.  I answer questions, I clarify the instructions, I will help with the blocking—if any of us ever finish, and I enjoy the people.  And they pay me a bit for doing this.  Life don’t get no better.  Don’t tell anyone; I don’t want to share this gig.

We meet about every 10 days or so.  At the shop.  Bringing dinner or drinks if we wish.

We like to share how far along we are—or explain why we just haven’t had time to complete that much.

Actually these pics are of our meeting several weeks ago, but it doesn’t matter.  We are all wallowing in a sea of garter stitch that we know will be worth it once we have this gorgeous Zephyr creation designed by Jane Sowerby.  We have Natalie’s shawl to inspire us.  (can’t find pic)

We seem to have different attitudes about the process.  Some are happy . . .and are pleasantly progressing with the purple.

Others are pensive . . .or intent and determined.One has lost her mind.

It’s all good.  We are planning to add a few sessions in order to avoid the shame of no one finishing.  Only one of use has passed the halfway mark of part 1 (and there are 3 parts) and begun the decreasing.  Shamefully, it isn’t the instructor.

Must go knit burgundy Zephyr.

More later–

On the Needles

I got the laptop back when Steve came home last week, but haven’t gotten my writing mojo in gear until tonight.  Here’s an on the needle update:

Leaf and Nupp Shawl from Nancy Bush’s Lace Knitting in Estonia.  I’ve done enough for you to get the idea.  It really may be more large scarf size when finished, but I’m fine with that.  I love any leaf pattern I have ever seen, especially this one.  I’m so proud of those Nupps.  Yes, a few will need some secret repair, but most are whole and perfect.  That’s a big step forward for me.  Dorothy who is in the Daybreak Gold Knitalong has recently been to Estonia–covet, covet– and said yarn was very lovely and inexpensive.  That’s reason enough to go.  This won’t get much work in the near future, but more on that later.

Nope, that’s not a black and white photo.  It’s in full color–only there isn’t much.  I finally finished–don’t you love that word?–my Puffy Squares from the Zauberball black and white fingering yarn.  Yes, I fiddled with the colors a bit at the end to prevent a solid black piece.  Now to decide what to do with them.  I envision a scarf with four of these on each end.  Maybe all eight on one end and a plain finish at the other.  The problem is finding a yarn with a similar luster to the Zauberball.  This too goes to the back burner.

The knitting is finished.  The yarn was from Kate and I’ve lost the band.  But it is thick and thin and even the thin is pretty thick.  I knit seed stitch on a size 13 needle–just a 17″ square.Then I embellished with a smooth cotton DK yarn.  The “bow” or “flower” is a rectangle woven on a 4×6 Weavette.  Then there is backstitch.  I have an old remnant of upholstery material which will compliment the neutral embroidery.  I have an old pillow that needs a new cover.  No excuse for not finishing this and adding it to my den immediately.  Don’t hold your breath.  But I love it.

Here’s my Daybreak Gold shawl variation.  I stuck to the pattern for at least three inches and then remembered that I hate unshaped triangles.  So I decided to add short rows and shape it.  Just made up a plan and did it.  I don’t love what I did, but what I wrote down was what I should have done and I will test that on the other end.  The Knitalong started at the shop last Sunday.  We had a blast, all 13 of us.  It’s not to late to join us;  check the Charlotte Yarn website.  Next time I’ll take the camera.

Could not resist starting a sev[en] circle after seeing BJ’s last week.  This is a pleasure to knit.  No brains are really needed.  Love that about it

Zachary’s gansey is graphed and I’ve knit one inch of the back.  I’ve been doodling on a sweater for Steve.  The green linen skirt still just lies there.  And the Seduce jacket has taken an interesting turn.

Still other projects which I cannot show yet.  Obviously I have a problem.

Today I shook myself by the throat and yelled, “Get a grip!”  I need to FOCUS before I self destruct.  So–I have packed away some of the projects.  I will continue to work on the Knitalong–that’s my job and the group is great.  I will keep the Seduce jacket available.  I will finish the new socks on the needles.  Then I will look at the others.  Ah-h-h.  That feels better.

Aren’t you glad you aren’t ADHD?

More later–

Catching Up; Free class

I’ve been busy enjoying my friends.  I’ve also been indulging myself in mindless knitting–well, sort of.

Recently a very good friend has been bringing me flowers from her yard–her husband is a master gardener.  Over the past month I’ve had lilies, daisies, gerber daisies and now gladiola and the best ever, Stargazer Lily.

I’d never heard of a Stargazer Lily before but I want one.  It has the sweetest, most delicate aroma.  (If you have an old dog, “aroma” is an important issue in your life.)  It’s beautiful in a million ways; it looks modern, vintage, unearthly, Art Deco.  The buds have been opening on the branch for over a week, so the cutting lasts.  Must call Andrew about adding one to my yard.

The Seduce yarn has entered is 5th transformation.  The top down yoke sweater proved to be a bad ideas for such a squirrelly yarn.  This time it actually seems to be working.  It’s simply a top down, half-raglan shaped cardigan.  It’s all stockinette and will have some kind of border–a slightly flaired ruffle, I think.  The yarn seems to like this project, at least it is knitting effortlessly.  Well–there was the part where I twisted the left shoulder when joining everything under the arm.

I know to be meticulous when joining to knit in the round, but don’t think it even occurred to me I could twist parts of a sweater.  Fortunately I caught it when I had only knit an inch—thanks to my habit of trying things on a million times while in process.  Quick frog and a start again.  Added short rows and the rest is just straight knitting—I think.

My July socks are going great.  I love the Plymouth Sockotta and the long repeats.  I’m using an easy twisted st rib for the cuff and have developed a slightly different way (for me) of doing the Left Twist.  I’m also working on simplifying the directions for the arched foot that I have grown to love.  The arch clasps the foot nicely and it is fun to knit; makes the foot knitting more interesting so it seems to go faster.  I’ll share when it is worked out to my liking.

Speaking of sharing—I’m teaching a free class this coming Sunday at Charlotte Yarn.  It is part of Remi’s Customer Appreciation Weekend.  I’m sharing some pattern reading tips and tricks and will, of course, be available to answer questions and play with yarn.  Call the shop and reserve a place–Think of it as a play date.  It will be way too hot to do anything else that day.

More later–

How many times can you knit the same yarn?

This is Seduce from Berroco.  I love the way it looks and the bumpiness of its texture.  I want to wear it near my face.  I want to combine it with a solid color to bring out the purple in it.  I’m having trouble figuring out how to do all that.

It was going to be a vest

then a jacket

now a round yoke sweater.  Maybe.  I’ve never knit one before, so designing with one is iffy.

I read that bodies with narrow shoulder and big bottoms looked good in yoked sweaters with some color interest. The yoke draws the eye up and balances the bottom so the theory goes.  Okay, I’m in.

I got out my construction bibles and began to read.  Worked some of the formulas and began to plan. Started knitting without really doing a swatch.  Hey–I’ve knit this yarn twice already–three times including the swatch I did knit before the vest thing.  Surely I know it’s gauge.  (Words to eventually eat.)

The row gauge is a bit off, but I’ll just add some extra.  I’ll keep you posted.  Some of my students have commented that it is very motivating to know that more experienced knitters make mistakes.  I’m happy to oblige.

I want to make the body of the sweater in a solid color contrasting yarn.  I took some pictures to help me decide which to use.  or

I think I’ll go with the purple.  I already have a swatch.

More later–

Square Project

I’ve always enjoyed modular knitting.  Lots of small projects equal lots of finishing lines.  These fluffy squares are adorable and fun to knit.  And the pattern is free.

Don’t stop with just this pattern though.  Look at all the ingenious things Frankie Brown has created and is sharing with us.  Much of it is kind of mindless and easy, but still very clever.

So what are these squares going to be?  Well, I don’t exactly know.  Maybe a pillow top.  Maybe the ends of a scarf or shawl.  I’ll decide when I finish knitting them.  I have one ball of Zauberball in the black, white, grey colorway.  I’m trying to get at least 3 shades in each square.  (After knitting a solid black one)  I have 5 knitted and lots of yarn left.  If I do a shawl or scarf, I’ll probably use a natural sock yarn as the body.

About the Zauberball.  I have every reason not to like it.  It’s a single ply, but is strong.  The wool in it must be a long wool because it is much stronger than I expected.  It has luster, like mohair, but isn’t fuzzy.  If I had to guess, I’d say Wensleydale, but I don’t know.  The color repeats are very long.  Much longer than Noro.  I may buy another to knit a shawl and just let the colors play.

It’s a size 4 needle—actually it’s 5 size 4 needles.  You can knit this square on magic loop, but it just seems more natural on dpns.  I haven’t knit on dpns in a long time and I am enjoying that also.

I’ll let you know what I do with the squares and how I decide to join them.  Those 10 st circular pieces she designed also look like fun.

More later–

Sad sock story; otn

I am trying to have my own Sock of the Month club this year as suggested by Yarn Harlot.  I cheated and bought yarn—six balls of Sockotta from Discontinued Brand Name Yarns for only about $5 each, but one just makes a new resolution and moves on.  My grandmother always said God would get me for my sins, so check out above.  Steve’s new sock doesn’t fit.

Remember that I knit both on different needles at the same time.  The second one doesn’t fit either.

By now you would expect I could fit him.  I’ve only knitted him a bezillion socks.  The third one I cast on didn’t work either, so I decided to rethink.

I love the Sockotta yarn.  It’s the only Plymouth yarn besides their Galway that I have ever liked.   It’s 45% cotton, 40% wool, and 15% nylon.  The cotton is cooler for summer; the wool is long wearing; and the nylon is strong and softens things.  It comes in 100 gram balls (414 yds) and Webs has it for only $10.99.  It washes in the machine and wears very well.  I knit my first pair of lace socks out of it 100 years ago.

I finally decided that the problem was using my Like Jazz pattern with the cotton blend needed more stitches so the twisted stitch pattern could be accommodated.  Cotton doesn’t stretch the same way all wool yarn does.  I added stitches and cast on again.  Still too small.   I can hear Cristi saying, but didn’t you swatch it to check the size?  No, I thought I was so perfect that I didn’t need to.

Tore out the third one and he is getting a k2,p2 cuff with the occasional twist st.  I may burn this yarn before May is out.  And it’s all my own stubborn fault.  I still like the yarn.

One other error—same socks— dealt with the needle size.  In the US, we fudge a bit on needle sizes.  A size one needle may be a 2.25 mm needle or a 2.5 mm.  I like that Knitpicks sells both in my favorite needle.  I am a loose knitter, so I always buy the 2.25.  But—-the first sock I cast on for Steve was on my lovely Addi lace needle, size 1.  The initial try-on fit Steve quite well.  Just the first few inches of the cuff.  The second sock was knit on the Knitpicks needle.  Yeah!  The Addi is a 2.5.  Another opportunity to screw up was taken.  It’s like these socks aren’t meant to be.  Or maybe it’s the “Keep the Knit Queen humble” work of God.  Anyway, watch out for needle size US1.

I am still knitting on my green skirt.  But only a bit and only when I remember.  It is on track for an August finish when I plan to teach a class is designing and knitting a custom fit A-line skirt.

More later–

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