Friday, June 27, 2008

Guinevere's Wedding Stockings


Yarn: Panda Silk, soft blue-grey

Needles: Knitpicks DPNs 5-in size 1.5mm

Pattern: My own (soon to be available on Ravelry)


As soon as I saw these socks in my mind's eye, I realized that they had an almost medieval elegance. I could see them in a soft kid shoe strolling across a green castle lawn, or covering a dainty foot as the queen bestowed her ribbons on the knights jousting for her favour. This is the way my mind works - always thinking about legend, symbol, myth, philosophy, the meaning of life and all that...

But perhaps that gives these stockings too much prominence. After all, they are just socks. Just a pair of hand knit hosiery... and yet, and yet....

Aren't all our patterns the children of dreams?

I've also been doodling during meetings. These inevitably lead to designs for knitting and crochet. This particular batch is for some charity projects for children:


I wanted these items to be fast and simple to make and available in either knit or crochet so that a wide variety of people in a Ravelry group I'm in could participate.

As you can see, its a very simple pattern for a small blanket - something to swaddle an infant or to comfort a toddler. On the other side, I'm experimenting with three small stuffed toys that could be included. Simple increases and decreases and then the faces - embroidered - are the hardest parts of these patterns. I hope to get them written up soon with a couple of the completed prototypes, so I can share with the group.

Lately I've been somewhat sad. It's rainy here, and dark, and work has been overwhelming, but it's more than that. It's that I've seen too much of Man's inhumanity to Man lately - people acting in retribution and control, not protecting the innocent but punishing small infractions, wars of words and retaliation, spiteful gossip and condescension. Where the heck have I been hanging out, you ask? Ah, there's the answer - Internet Forums! I wish that I could find a quiet group of gentle people, not without drama but without spite, with whom I could hang out online...a place that's similar to the real life I have here - tea and fibercraft, writing and relationships, charity and nature....

Do you know of such a group?

Friday, June 20, 2008

up to no good

I have been having a great deal of fun trying out new ideas for quick and gratifying projects! I guess when the doldrums of summer come, I need a fix that only knit or crochet can fill. I am trying to work from my stash (though I am seriously craving some yarn coloured like pale pink-white cherry blossoms), so I have a few brilliant choices.

This yarn is Panda Silk, in a light sky blue-grey. It has very little silk in it - 5% - and is mostly bamboo, but its soft and slinky and would make wonderful thigh-high stockings. I have two skeins of it, so we'll see how far I get. Kind of embarrassing - you can see in this photo how skinny my feet are (6.5 AA) that means I usually get good mileage from a skein of sock yarn. That whole solid toe part? Yes - those are where my toes begin and end - super long toes! I can play piano with my toes! (Anybody else know "Swans on the Lake", my favorite first-piano-book song of all time? I practiced playing this song with my toes all the time between the ages of 7 and 9) Enough about toes - back to the socks!


This design is one I'm making up as I go along. I have my own way of doing sock toes and I've named it "Sophietoes". If this pair turns out well, I'll write up my method on Ravelry, in this pattern. As you can see, I'm experimenting with a traveling lace pattern. It got boring fast, being not as challenging as I thought it would be (I love a needlework challenge!) but I'm going to stick with it, as I think the finished pair of stockings with be very nice.


At the same time, I'm crocheting the vest from the Spring Interweave Crochet:


This is from an Alice-blue Corn Fiber yarn! It's as soft as a favorite T-shirt, but is very twisty to work with, so that the whole time I'm crocheting (usually 3 hours at a time through Top Chef reruns) I'm muttering under my breath "this is so not worth it - I'm going to rip this out!" But then I look at the resulting fabric and it's actually pretty nice and I keep going. I will definitely repeat what Amy Singer says in No Sheep For You: work from the outside of the ball, not the inside, even if you have a center pull ball! There is just not enough 'cling' in corn fiber yarn to keep the center pull ball together and it becomes a muddled mess...

I'll leave you with the final image of my lunch today - homemade bento! I have shrimp and celery salad on a little bit of sliced avocado, and teriyaki sesame rice crackers with yogurt-dill dip, and finally a few ripe cherries.


What are you eating today, on the first day of summer?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Candied Apples

The Candy Apple Stockings are finished! This was a long knit, because I knit and crocheted so many other things at the same time!


I used Regia Colour (machine washable sock yarn that is also Soft!), 2 balls, which I got at Patternworks after Christmas. Needles are Knitpicks Harmony double-points, size US 1.5

These were knit toe-up, on 60 stitches for the foot and leg, in a K2 P1 pattern, with occasional 3 stitch increases for shaping, directly in the back. I made two sets of increases about an inch apart on the lower calf, and one set of increases on the upper calf.


As you can see, these increases were made over a set of 4 rows, increasing in the purl stitch with ordinary m1 increases. So, you have p1 k3, p1, k3 going. One the first increase round you p1, k3, kf&b in the purl stitch, k3 according to the regular pattern. Next round, when you get to that place, you p1, k3, p1, kf&b in the stitch made on the previous round, k3, continue in pattern. In the next round when you get to that place, you p1, k3, pl, k1, kf&b in the stitch just made, k3 and continue in regular pattern. Next, p1, k3, p1, k2, kf&b, k3, continue. Next, p1, k3, p1, k3, p1, k3 and there you are back to your regular pattern with a nice little v-shaped increase up the center back of your stocking!


The ribbing at the top is a full 2 inches of K1P1 with a stretchy sewn bind-off. I used every bit of each skein and they came out exactly the same length.

I love this yarn! The colour is a perfect candied apple red. There are accents of grey and gold in there too but they mostly blend into the red to make this very gorgeous sweet red.


I seem to be on a red kick lately, don't I?

Friday, June 13, 2008

accordian pleats

If you're like me, you snatch up the Antropologie catalog as soon as it hits the mat under the mail slot and quickly thumb through looking for gorgeous knits that inspire you. This is the sweater that caught my eye this week:


As usual, the designers took a simple silhouette and made it amazing with the shape, colour palette and stitches used... In this case, knit and purl.... and maybe a few Yarn-overs.

This is my take on the design:

- fingering weight alpaca, or alpaca and wool, or silk and wool. It needs to be a springy yarn - meaning, one that will hold its shape because it relies on stretching and bouncing back for its fit.
Oh, ... and lots and lots of Ribbon! Silky, satiny ribbon - not stiff at all.

Cast On
- I count approximately 160 for the cast on neck edge. This of course would have to be an experiment, subject to change.
Edited to add: I am an idiot who obviously cannot do maths. The cast-on would have to be at least 180 because it must be a multiple of 3. Duh.

First few rows:
Knit 2, Purl 1 across, ending with Knit 2. On wrong side, it would of course be Purl 2, Knit 1. This establishes the accordion pleats that make up the design.

First ribbon row:
Knit 2, Yarn Over, Knit 2. This is the row of eyelets that the ribbon will slip through.

Continue. These first two sections are repeated three times. This forms the yoke and should cover to the crease of the shoulders.

- It is at this point that the sweater would be divided in its stitches - indicated with stitch markers - to divide the front sides from the sleeves and the sleeves from the back. There will be five divisions: Left front, left sleeve, back, right sleeve, right front. Increases for a raglan design will commence now, keeping the Knit 2 Purl 1 stitch pattern all the way.

Continue with regular raglan increases until the armholes are the necessary size (you can see in the photo that they are a bit tight on this model), then set the fronts and back aside on spare needles or spare yarn and - joining the sleeves in the round - complete the sleeves to the desired length. I would do them with no cuff, allowing the accordion pleats to dictate a nice bell.

A note on Front Edges
- it looks like the stitches along the front edges were picked up and knit in a tight stockinette stitch after the sweater was finished, but it would also be possible to start the knitting at the very beginning with 4 or 6 extra stockinette stitches on either front edge. I don't think that this method would be as stabilizing to the design though.

of sweater - When the sleeves are completed, finish the fronts and back in pattern, connecting them under the arms so you can knit in the round. Knit 2 Purl 1 until the sweater is long as you like, and then bind off using the 'sewn cast-off'.

There you have it - a nice little knit with a minimum of fuss and a lot of cute style! I wonder if a person can get a degree in "reverse-engineering"?

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Scarlet Woman needs reformation....

I've heard from the recipient of my newest design, (the Scarlet Woman silk blouse) and there are some reported problems. Sadly, this sometimes happens when you don't have a way to fit the model while working on it. I did try it on myself as I went along, but that didn't have the desired effect...

So, I'll be making another prototype with corrections soon, and will only write up the pattern after I get the glitches tended to. What are the problems, you ask?

The armholes are very tight (may not be the worst thing in the world, as 100% silk stretches a LOT when worn) and the neckline is so wide it goes from armpit to armpit. Kind of weird to imagine isn't it? I am more 'up front' (so to speak) so on me the neckline was pulled forward and didn't seem so wide. But as this version was supposed to be an XS size, its definitely not proportioned correctly and I will correct the design.


I really need one of those adjustable dress-forms to size my knitting designs.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Scarlet Woman


While I have been working studiously on my Sample Knitting for A Stitch in Time, I have had another project in the basket for times when I was in a public setting, etc.

This project is Scarlet Woman, a silk top that I designed to be a vest.

Don't you think the colour looks like American Beauty roses?


I imagined it with a tiny white voile collar and ruffled puff sleeves peeking out around the edges. But when I finished the bodice, I realized that it is a lovely blouse all on its own - a vintage-style design with a low (but fairly modest) neckline and body-conscious fit. It's long, long, long and snug but not too tight. I wish I could show you a photo of it on, but none of the photos I took in front of the mirror came out at all.

Scarlet Woman is now winging its way across the country to its recipient, my beautiful little sister, and I'm hoping to wheedle a photo or two out of her when she tries it on!



I've signed up to be part of Ravelry's download store, and as soon as that happens this pattern will be available there. Right now I plan to charge a small amount for it, to help defray my sister's college fees, but one way or another, it will be available. Non-Ravelers (if there are any in the world) also have access to Ravelry's downloads if the designer makes that happen.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


Those of you who are on Ravelry will have heard that on May 29 one of our favorite companies, Malabrigo, suffered the loss of their mill in a big fire. The good news is that because it happened at night, no one was hurt. The bad news is that they lost the entire stock that they had in the mill at the time, as well as their entire record-keeping system.

You can read more about this HERE and then some details on the Malabrigo Blog.

When I heard this, I felt powerless to help. This is company that, from the beginning, has been very responsive to us, their customers, and treated us like valued friends. Their product is high quality and just gets better and better. The only thing I could think of was that buying their yarn would ensure that when they are able to begin producing again, the demand will be there. Its win-win. At least, it couldn't hurt, right?

A local yarn store, Knit New London, had written in thier recent newsletter that they had just gotten a new shipment of Malabrigo. My closest store had only a couple of skeins. So I headed out to New London for my stash enhancement.

Here is the floor to ceiling stash of Malabrigo that Knit New London carries (the center row of bins right in the middle of the photo):


I chose a new colour, Pearl Ten, which is a brown mauve, and Tuareg, which is a marine-tourqoise blue with shades of light blue. You can see them in the store's stack as the very first top bin on the right and the first blue-ish bin on the top left.


It was a rainy afternoon here in the Northeast, so I spent a nice long cosy time at the store, investigating everything including some new blown-glass buttons and clasps from a local company called Moving Mud, and one somehow ended up in my purchases...


Knit New London likes to carry a lot of locally produced stock and had several bins of a wide variety of fabulous Farmhouse Yarns, including their beautiful sock yarns and gorgeous 100% bamboo. In the end though, I used my yarn budget on Malabrigo. I was there to support them after all. I won't reget it when Fall sweater season comes around.